KILL YOU OR CURE YOU, INSURANCE WON’T COVER IT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Symptoms! 

I almost palpitated with excitement. Symptoms? I have so many of them. Oh joy!

Then I realized I don’t actually want to talk about them. I want everyone to know about them, after which please pretend they don’t exist. Don’t ask me to do things you know I can’t do and let’s just move on. If you have the same problem, you are welcome to ask me about doctors, which medications work, what costs too much or doesn’t anything … but unless you have a genuine reason to know the icky details of a particular ailment you are asking about, don’t ask.

I promise not to tell you.

However, if you pepper me with questions and refuse to accept a bland “I’m okay” or “So far so good” as an answer, be ready to get every tedious detail. I used to be a technical writer and tedious details are my specialty.

I will tell you the truth. All of it. I might even include a PowerPoint Presentation and a manual. So unless you really care, don’t ask and I swear not to tell you anything.

I will leave you with the one annoying current symptom which has caused a great deal of fuss and a lot of doctor visits. Which has ended being exactly what I thought it was at the beginning. Remember, you regular readers, how I said I can’t see properly because I have these bright web works of color where vision ought to be?

I thought it was probably complicated migraine.

It is complicated migraine. In theory, there’s stuff they can (maybe) give me for it, but all the medication has side effects more serious than the disease it supposedly cures.

I’ll live with the problem. It’s easier than any of the solutions which might or might not work AND are expensive. And in a lot of cases, are potentially dangerous.

That’s modern medicine for you.

We probably don’t have a cure, but if we do, it might kill you AND you can’t afford it.

STRAWBERRY JAM – Marilyn Armstrong

I was 46 years old when my homemade strawberry preserves jelled properly.

Probably what broke the barrier was overcoming a longstanding aversion to putting sufficient sugar in the mix. Alternatively, I could have solved the problem by adding tapioca starch or pectin, but I’m a bit of a food snob.

I wanted my preserves made of just fruit and sugar.

The day the preserves came out perfectly was the day my first husband finally died. He had been dying for a long time. It was a Friday, a rare brilliant spring day in New England.

Jeff had been sick for almost a year in what we politely called a coma, but which was actually a vegetative state. Now gone. I had not come to terms with it though I’d had plenty of time. Probably no amount of time would have been enough.

Other than Jeff’s dying, it was a good time for us. Garry and I were happy. We were good together, busy with career and friends.

Yet there was an underlying sadness we could not avoid, the knowledge that death was near.  Happiness and sadness don’t cancel each other out. The good things are not a balance against pain. Feelings aren’t an equation. You can’t add columns of positive and negatives in your life and come up with a number in the middle. In the real world, joy and misery cohabit. We live with both.

Emotions are messy.

My head was a wheel of memories, a slide show carousel. Faces, places, good years, bad. Bittersweet, sad, joyous, funny. Strawberry jam that never jelled.

I married Jeffrey at 18 and thought myself very mature. He was almost 30, but he thought me very mature too. Both of us were wrong.  We muddled through. We were hard triers. When we had no idea what to do, we faked it.

Eventually, we became the people we pretended to be and it turned out, not the people we needed to be.

1965 in the WVHC office

Though we went in different directions, we stayed friends. No matter where on Earth I was, I knew Jeffrey was there for me. We had a better divorce than most marriages.

Decades passed.

Jeff’s health deteriorated. He survived things that should have killed him, so what a shock he should die of the thing that was supposed to extend his life. The heart surgery should have given him years, maybe decades.  When Sue called late on an August evening it upended reality.  His body wasn’t dead, but his brain was. The future world would be without Jeff.

I would never call to tell him something funny that happened, hear his sarcastic, drawling response. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Someone rewrote the script when our backs were turned.

Fall passed and winter too. Jeff remained in a vegetative state. Someone who looked just like him was wearing his body and that shell remained alive through the seasons. We visited. I stayed for weeks to help care for him. Finally, as spring was nearly summer, the piper played. Now, the ashes were scattered.

Just the other day, Garry glimpsed someone in a crowd who looked exactly like Jeff.

PROVOCATIVE QUESTION: WHAT ABOUT PREDESTINATION? – Marilyn Armstrong

This week’s provocative question is a spinoff of a question that Melanie (Sparks From a Combustible Mind) asked in her last Share Your World post.

That question from Melanie got me thinking about fate and predestination. So here’s this week’s provocative question.

I’m not entirely sure what “predestination” means. By this do you mean a rigid “ending” that you can’t change, no matter what? Because I don’t believe in that.

I think we end up where we are supposed to be. I don’t think it’s a rigid, unchanging finish. I think it is flexible and will change depending on the choices we make. But there’s a likely place we will probably land.

I don’t believe in a frozen, unbending future. More like a conclusion based on our intelligence, status, birthplace, education … and the things to which we are attracted and choose along our path as well as the kind of people to whom we are attracted.

This is how I like to describe it.

Life is like a bus trip, except you don’t know where you are going and you can’t drive the bus. No ticket, no map.

You will meet other travelers on the bus. Some will be your friends and maybe lovers and mates. They enter the bus at various stops and get off where they must. You may not be happy about it.

The bus will sometimes stop and give you the chance to visit and enjoy the scenery, but eventually, you’ll have to get back on the bus.

You still won’t have any idea where the bus is going and you still can’t drive. Sometimes, the road will be very rough and treacherous. Other times, the road will be smooth and the scenery beautiful. When all is smooth and lovely, you may think you’ve got everything under control.

You will never have everything under control. You never know when the bus will take a sudden turn or for that matter, drive off a bridge.

Life will take you where it takes you.

I don’t know what, if anything, God has to do with it. Maybe something. Maybe nothing. I have no idea. But if prayer makes you feel better, I say go for it. Because whatever makes you feel better — especially if it costs nothing — is worth doing.

SPIKY, POKY, POINTY, SQUARE PHOTOGRAPHS OF A CARDINAL IN THE WOODS – Marilyn Armstrong

Square, poky, pointy, spiky Cardinals in the woods

This time of year, the woods are definitely poky, pointy, and spiky. Before the leaves are out, everything has a sharp edge. It isn’t as lush as it will be later in the season, but it’s much easier to take pictures.

Later, the leaves will be soft and lovely… and it will be very hard to get a clear shot of anything except the leaves.

Summer. Good news and not so good news. Kind of like life.

Square, poky, pointy, spiky Cardinal in the woods

Not only spiky squares. Jagged, barbed, bristly, serrated, prickly, spiny, and pointy things and this is one.