So many question, so little time …

Bonnie watches the storm - Marilyn Armstrong

Why oh why …

How come I never notice that my glass is empty until I’ve gone and gotten my medications and settled down in front of the television?

Why don’t I realize I have to go to the bathroom until after I settle into the sofa with the dogs? For that matter, how come you don’t notice you have to go until you’ve just passed the last rest stop for the next 40 miles?

Why doesn’t the GPS work in the middle of town or in mall parking lots where you really need it most?

BonnieAndSue

Why don’t I realize I forgot something I want to take on vacation until we are just far enough away from home to make it really inconvenient to go back and get it?

Why don’t I remember why I’m standing in the kitchen at all?

How come the dogs need to sing the hallelujah chorus on the only morning all week I can sleep late?

Why can I only think of a good witticism the day after the party?

Bishop on guard

Why don’t I check to make sure I have enough eggs before I mix the rest of the cake batter? Why didn’t my granddaughter mention she’d used all the eggs? And most of the milk? And the sugar?

Why doesn’t anyone but me ever wash the measuring spoons?

Why do you always find that thing you were looking for after you’ve replaced it?

Why does everyone’s back go out at the same time?

Why are all the bills due on the first of the month?

Life is full of questions without answers.

So many questions, so little time …

When I Could Fly

Do you remember flying? I do.

When I was very young, before I was five, I could fly. I remember clearly. I could close my eyes, think “up in the air” and fly. I never doubted that I could. After I started school, I couldn’t fly any more. The magic went away.

Free Bird

These memories go back at more than 60 years. That’s a lot of years. Memories usually fade, become dim and gauzy over long decades, yet these remain clear. I remember where I was, how I felt, what I saw. How I flew. I have no idea of the physics or the scientific probabilities involved. I just know it happened and have never made an effort to apply scientific analysis to what clearly won’t lend itself to that kind of scrutiny. I could never prove the veracity of my memories.

The Flying Baby
Flying Baby

Normally I’m very logical. If anything, I tend to be overly analytical but I recognize when something defies logic.

I have been touched by the inexplicable several times, leaving our Pastor to ask me if I required a picture ID before accepting that I had been “God-touched.”

Thing is, I never doubted I had been touched, though lacking a picture ID, I can’t say which entity was involved. I have been twice restored to life and issued an explicit (and apparently one-time only)  invitation to dedicate my life to a particular path. At the time of the invitation I was nine months pregnant and could not accept … and no further invitation ever came my way. I wish I could have said yes.

EverOn-MultiLayer-ARTO-300-72

I am not ungrateful to have gotten my life back. I am extremely grateful. I acknowledge were it not for timely intercessions, I would be dead twice-over. When something with the power of life or death pops into your psyche, tells you to go forth and live, asks nothing of you, then departs, it doesn’t allow time for a post-intercession Q & A period.

You couldn’t anyhow because “struck dumb” sums up your verbal abilities of the moment. Anyway, I would have had just one question: “Why me? I’m not so special … so why me?” But you don’t get to ask so you may never have an answer. Maybe there is no answer or none we could understand.

I am far from ungrateful. It’s just that I want to ask for my magic back, even if for only a few minutes. I want to fly, to feel that swoosh of wind as I take off, feel those moments of freedom, of being unbound from the earth.

Do you have memories of flying? I know others remember similar things. Most of us don’t talk about it lest people think we are nuts. I don’t care what anyone thinks, because I remember flying until one day I couldn’t.

And for all these years, I’ve been wondering why the magic went away.

Surviving: It beats the hell out of the alternative

postaday 2013 - long

In 2010, I discovered I had cancer in both breasts. Two tumors, unrelated to each other. Just twice lucky. They removed the tumors and the associated breasts, gave me very attractive fake replacements — much perkier than the old ones in an artificial implant sort of way. I actually have a little ID card for my breasts, like they have their own personae. Maybe they do. Thus, a little more than two years after the siege began, I’m almost me again. Almost but not quite.

75-DecSnowHP-17

My mother died of metastasized breast cancer. My brother died of pancreatic cancer about 5 years ago, having never gotten as old as I am now. This is not a reassuring family history.

All chronic illnesses make you paranoid. The thing that’s so insidious about cancer is its absence of symptoms. The possibility that it’s growing somewhere in your body and you won’t know it’s there until it’s too late to do anything about it is about as scary as disease gets. Nor is it a baseless fear. I had no idea I had cancer, much less in both breasts, until it was diagnosed twice during a two-week period. One diagnosis of cancer is hard to handle. A second diagnoses a week later is like getting whacked over the head with a bat. It leaves you stunned, scrambling to find someplace to stand where the earth isn’t falling out from under you.

I don’t think most of us are afraid of dying per se. We are afraid of the journey we will have taken to get there. We’re afraid of pain, suffering, the humiliation of dependence and gradual loss of control of our own bodies. After having one or more close encounters with the dark angel, no one is eager to feel the brush of those wings again.

We are called survivors, which means that we aren’t dead yet. The term is meaningless. Put into perspective, we are all survivors. Anyone could be felled by a heart attack or run over by an out-of-control beer truck tomorrow. The end of the road is identical for all living creatures; it’s only a matter of when it will be and what cause will be assigned. Everyone is in the same boat. If you’ve been very sick, you are more aware of your mortality than those who who’ve been blessed with uneventful health, but no one gets a free pass. The odds of death are 100% for everyone.

Recovering from serious illness is a bumpy road. Each of us has a particular “thing” we find especially bothersome. For me, it’s dealing with well-wishers who ask “How are you?” If they wanted an answer, it might not be so aggravating, but they don’t want to hear about my health or my feelings about my health — which are often as much an issue as anything else. They are simply being polite. So, I give them what they want. I smile brightly and say “Just fine thank you.”

December Sunrise

I have no idea how I am. All I know — and all I can possibly know — is that for the time being, I am here. To the best of my knowledge, nothing is growing anywhere it’s not supposed to be.  Two years after a double mastectomy, I cannot be considered cancer-free … and really, if you’ve had cancer, you are in remission and that’s as good as it gets. So the answer for those of us who have had cancer, heart attacks and other potentially lethal and chronic ailments is “So far, so good.”

That is not what folks want to hear. People want you to be positive and upbeat. You cannot suffer physical or mental discomfort. Why not? Because if you aren’t fine, maybe they aren’t either. They have a bizarre and annoying need for you to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed no matter how you actually feel.

As I enter this New Year, I’m glad to be alive. With a little bit of luck, I’ll continue to remain that way. God willing and assuming life stays more or less on an even keel, I’ll be here in the cyber world, writing my little stories, taking pretty pictures of waterfalls and sunrises and you’ll still come and visit me from time to time.

Welcome to survivorship. It’s imperfect, but it beats the hell out the alternative.

My world in white — Happy New Year!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It started snowing yesterday afternoon. I first knew because the dogs came in covered with snow. It had looked like snow would be coming … white snow sky … but it seemed too warm for it to really stick. But, as snow so often does here in the valley, it just kept coming and as evening approached, the temperature dropped.

Straight across into the woods.

The snow continued after dark and when I got up this morning, there was quite a bit on the ground, perhaps 6 or 7 inches. Real snow, the kind that hangs around until it melts or is dug away.

First Snow - Deck 1

My back is still treacherously bad, but I had to at least take a few pictures. It wasn’t so deep that I couldn’t get out onto the back deck, so I provided a round of biscuits to my frantic pups, then grabbed the camera and my new wide-angle lens and took pictures. This is the first real snow of this winter, though it is likely last snow of 2012.

Woods and chairs

Last year, the snowless year, was a glitch in the weather. I hoped we might get another snowless year, but obviously that isn’t happening. Welcome to my world in winter. Fresh snow, so white, so pretty, so … cold.

Facing east

Early light on a dusting of snow …

The early light just after dawn always has a special quality. Its color varies from season to season, more golden or amber in Autumn, deep yellow in summer, pale, almost pink in springtime.  This time of year, full winter, there’s slate bluish light.

Just after sunrise, it’s pale yellow … but after that, for a brief few minutes, it blushes to a pink that paints the whole woods in its light.

This morning, there was a light powdering of snow across the ground and on the deck. It was gone by mid morning … but thanks to the magic of digital photography, the memories linger on.

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

All months are not equal and many of the most important things that happen are never documented. Hospital stays and medical procedures are life and death but never show up in photo albums. Some months are more crowded than others: summer vacations, holidays and almost all of the month of December, with Christmas at its apex, usually feature unique and photogenic activities, so these tend to be a heavily documented months.

Morning, Dec 30, 2012 ... a real snow blankets our world. Happy New Year!
Morning, Dec 30, 2012 … a real snow blankets our world. Happy New Year!

Then, there are those months that are beautiful.  Autumn in New England … specifically, October … gets more attention almost the rest of the year combined. November, a visually dull month unless we have an early snow or storm, is not a natural lure to photographers. I have no pictures from March because I was in the hospital for most of it and not in the mood for photography the rest of it.

Spring flowers and gardens are magnificent, but late summer gardens can be lackluster, the best of the color having passed. Vacati0ns are documented end to end, but ordinary weeks and months pass without much notice.

So this is … and isn’t … my year. It is my photographic year, but not necessarily my real year.