Back and forth

Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place. ~Susan Sontag



My aunt was only sick a few weeks.
Her sons couldn't bear the sharpness of spaded dirt falling on her in the grave.
They dug with their hands instead,
leaning deep in the hole to drop gently on the beloved.


It's a different world, a different part of me whispered in the flat hushed land of the reservation. I think these men do intuitive better than most. Rules matter less here.




I remember them both...lovers in old age, uncle with the chaotic overgrown eyebrows and curly hair and twinkly eyes that I thought maybe my grandfather had also, though I never met him. Aunt with the quick laugh and the tiny, tight body and the curling linoleum kitchen.



At her funeral, my pacemaker went crazy and I fought for peace of mind on the long drive back to a hospital after the luncheon. Then let pill after pill of nitroglycerin burn the space under my tongue on the ambulance ride to a bigger hospital, as my heart flip-flopped in and out of a dangerous rhythm that had the paramedic silent and sweating.

Long ago, before children, I came to terms with this kind of thing.
But the terms have changed.

Four children and a husband later, the pacemaker is still not working right, and I bit my lip and stalled back tears of pain as my chest ached yesterday. The doctor tells me I have to come to the hospital every time that pain comes. But I can't live at the hospital. So I hide pain and try hard, and fail often. Last night, to the hospital I went at 1 a.m. with my mother and aunt as "someone nice for company". Slept peaceful with the pain gone once they gave me the nitroglycerin they refuse to send home with me (wouldn't it be easier without the I.V. and the million questions and the night on the uncomfortable cot?). Tomorrow I go back to the cardiologist with Aaron's presence to try again to sort out this mess. 

I need protection. (my heart flutters dangerous sometimes)
I need strength. (I have never been so tired)
I need peace. (so I can give peace to these precious children)

Pray for me?