The woods felt like a steam bath late yesterday afternoon when I went walking. The ground was still damp from the long, heavy downpour on Sunday, when we lost power for five hours. (A good thing, sometimes, when the power goes out on a Sunday afternoon. One stops, jumps the tracks, finds a chair with a little light and reads, or stretches out in the bed in the middle of the day.)
I saw the fly on vivid green needles and thought: reviled as flies are, how beautiful his segmented body; how gossamer his wings.
I thought, too, about my younger brother, Steve, and how lying in a hospital bed for days, for weeks, is a particular trial of the human spirit. I am learning to communicate over the phone, to be present with him, when there is nothing to ask, little to say.
Steve has a PICC line to deliver TPN (total parenteral nutrition), antibiotics and to take blood samples. He is in isolation right now because of an acquired VRE infection. Sometimes when I talk with him, he speaks in an almost-whisper, and apologizes. He is trying to lie totally still because when the belly pain is at its worst, that is the only thing that seems to make it bearable. When possible, right after pain meds are delivered, he struggles out of bed, puts on the barrier protection gown (like a haz-mat suit), and pushes his i-v cart down the hall for a little exercise. He took a shower yesterday, with help. This is a big undertaking, time-consuming and awkward, but critical for body, mind, and spirit.
We talked about hope yesterday: hope that he will be strong enough to endure the June 14 fistula repair surgery; hope that it will be successful; hope that he will be walking on a beautiful beach by mid-summer; hope that he will be able to meet his college son, Taylor, at the airport when he returns from his semester in Moscow.
By the time I got back home from my walk yesterday, I was hot and sweaty. I stuck a toe in the swimming pool. It was so "refreshing" with all the cold rainwater that had filled it to the brim the day before, that I yanked my toe back out and settled for a cool indoor shower instead.