In my household, our daily end-of-work ritual involves sitting side by side, feet propped up, glasses of cold liquid in our hands, talking about our days over a bowl of freshly-made guacamole and things to dip in it. It’s our time to stop and think about what’s happening in our lives, and make sure we communicate about the news of our days, along with any worries, rants, joys, and such.
Tonight, after we clinked glasses, my cold filtered tap water against Richard’s red wine, my mind was on tomorrow, when we drive over the mountains to Denver for his monthly visit to the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center.
It snowed in the northern half of Colorado today, so the highways are likely to be slithery, which makes the drive a lot less fun. (I might not mind the road conditions if it had snowed on our part of the state too, but no such luck in this La Niña winter: it’s perilously dry here, with no change in sight.)
This isn’t just any monthly visit: It’s Richard’s three-month checkup after his most recent brain surgery, when the neurosurgeons removed much of his right temporal lobe along with the aggressive tumors growing there. Thus, Wednesday noon he goes in for a brain MRI, a loud and unpleasant look-see to check on what’s happening inside his skull. On Thursday, we’ll meet with his oncologist to learn what the brain scans showed. (I am not entirely sure I want to know.)
As if that weren’t enough, before his brain MRI he goes in for his quarterly cystoscopy to check on the bladder cancer successfully treated in 2008.
Since we’ll be in Denver, we’re also planning to visit my folks to sort out some financial issues my dad is concerned about, and see what we can do to help him as he cares for my mom. Despite her Alzheimer’s diagnosis earlier this fall, she’s still intellectually “there,” in her words. Physically though, not so much. Six months ago, she was taking short hikes; now she can barely muster the energy to walk down the hall.
So when Richard and I clinked glasses tonight, we had a lot on our minds. When we got quiet, we just sat together, the fire Richard had lit earlier crackling in the woodstove, our feet snuggled together (thanks to Cathy, for the gift of the beautiful hand-dyed, hand-spun, hand-knit wool socks I’m wearing in that photo!).
“I don’t want to be a burden on you,” Richard said after a while.
I took his hand.
“I want to go with you wherever the journey takes us.”
“I know,” he said. “But I need to know if it becomes too much for you.”
“I’ll tell you,” I said. “Believe me, I’ll tell you.”
We fell silent, still holding hands, feet snuggled together, the fire crackling and throwing out heat.
Then I got up to make dinner while he finished his wine. I looked out the window at the night. The half-moon rode high in the sky, Jupiter hanging bright nearby. The stove creaked.
I looked over at Richard and he smiled.
Please keep us in your thoughts this week. And thanks for walking with us on this wild journey.