A lot to process

I wrote this earlier today in a beat-up old notebook while waiting for my flight home. I’ll get back to recipes soon, but I wanted to push myself to share this first. I think it’ll be good for me.

I’m sitting in an airport terminal. It’s mid-afternoon, and hazy, with the sun just starting to send sharp bright beams through the windows. My flight doesn’t leave for another two hours, but I have nowhere better to be.

The news is still coming down from the boil of the Boston bombings. The two men behind the killings have been stopped–one dead, one badly hurt, possibly by his own hand. Four unrelated innocents lost their lives last week, and many more lost limbs. I have so many dear friends in Boston. They’re all unharmed–rattled and unhappy, but safe. I’ve spent many hours this week thinking of them, and of those who weren’t so fortunate. There’s a lot of emotion there, fizzing uncomfortably, and I don’t know what to do with it.

I sit, and I think of Boston, and my father. My father who went to the same college as me, who has similar connections to the state of Massachusetts. My father, who’s going in for another surgery tomorrow. The doctors had tried their best to avoid this, but there’s a tumor still inside him that won’t respond to radiation. Tomorrow he will be cut open, again, and very carefully maimed, as they cut through the healthy parts of him to get to the sick parts underneath. Once the tumor has been scooped away, they’ll stitch him meticulously back together and hope they haven’t damaged him too much. We’ve done this dance before, but not so intensely. He’s been quieter this week than usual, more contemplative, a little hollow, as he waits for his appointment. With any luck, he’ll be fine–just uncomfortable, with a long convalescence. That’s what I keep telling myself.

I won’t see my father before his surgery, because I’ve spent the weekend visiting my grandmother. She’s increasingly frail, and speeding towards 90. As she gets weaker and more exhausted, she despairs more, moans more, makes sadder faces. Her hearing aids sing and whine in the other room all day, because she hates wearing them and can’t turn them off. She has family nearby, and hired help, but sometimes I think the only thing that animates her is watching the hummingbirds tease each other at the feeder in her backyard. I’ve stayed the weekend, and help her with the small chores she can’t do anymore, and now I’m going home and won’t see her for weeks.

I sit in the terminal. My phone battery is dying. I think of Boston, and my father, and grandmother. There’s a lot to process.

A little girl, maybe four years old, climbs up into the empty seat next to me. She’s giggling and panting with the exertion. Her face is streaked with dried tears, but she’s grinning wickedly, as if she’s abandoning a tantrum in favor of some new and particularly excellent mischief. She pulls herself up close to my shoulder.

“Hi,” I say.

Her father calls her name from the other end of the row of seats. She giggles and sticks out her tongue, as if contemplating her next move. Then she wraps her arms around my neck and hugs me.

“Thank you,” I say.

Her mother comes over and nudges her away, apologizing sheepishly. She’s smiling too, as she leads her little one by the hand back to their seats. I laugh and wave goodbye.

For a few minutes, at least, the fizzing in my stomach and chest has quieted. My flight will board soon, and I’ll go home, and tomorrow we’ll go about the business of getting things done. As usual.

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