Walking up the block away from the East River, it’s hard to see through the soup…fog drifting in and out, clinging to things invisible with wispy wet tendrils. It reminds me of my husband’s brain tumor, and also the endless days of gray near the shore at certain times of the year. You just start to think the sun will burn through and the next thing you know, it’s pea soup again!
We have to get through the soup first before we’ll know where we’re going. My father, a private pilot, was right in life as in flying. We have to get through that creepy uncertainty of not knowing what might be just ahead, if anything. If anything…yes, let’s hope there’s something there and we’re not lost in nothingness. Fog can make you feel so absent, even when you know where you were when it first rolled in.
Straining to catch the change in atmosphere, every little gradation, imagined or otherwise, that might indicate a marker to hold onto, I can just make out a painted sign high over my head identifying what seems to be a restaurant, from the look of a bar and tables inside the amber glow from its window. ‘The Recovery Room’; bright red letters on the sign identify with strong intent. How clever! A few blocks from some of the best hospitals in the city, the irony of this suggested oasis of comfort cannot be missed. Did its proprietors intend all the nuances coming to mind? The bar dispensing pain medication, momentarily dulling the senses, while patron strangers ask if you’re all right—if they can get you anything to make you more comfortable.
They seem caring so you reach out and smile at them, knowing full well the connection won’t last long. Diners inside the restaurant who’ve left the bar for their tables shake off the stupor, initially welcomed, of their drinks’ anesthetizing properties. Are you ready now? A waitress in uniform tries to assess your level of preparedness to move to the next stage of recovery. But sitting alone at a table it becomes obvious that one doesn’t recover in one of those rooms. It is perhaps a beginning of consciousness, but by no means a recovery. I slip back to a semi-conscious state, maybe a dream of the last few months.
Writing through my husband’s crisis hasn’t been as hard for me as expected. I’ve become more trusting of the writing voice, more comfortable with talking to it. I also know it seems to help others, so I can fulfill my writing goal and also help myself; a win-win situation if there ever was one. Keep talking. They expect that in a recovery room. Keep Talking…my husband couldn’t find the strength so he played with my hair like a kitten batting at a piece of yarn swinging above it, but could find no words. Not a good sign when you can’t find words.
I’ve had enough, so I leave ‘The Recovery Room’, slipping back into the fog. What’s ahead of me? What’s behind, or around me? I’m afraid to take a step, fear I’ll run into something or fall. It’s worse if you’re afraid, my Swiss friend once told me. They used to make us go every day to ski in the fog, he said. It teaches you to feel and trust your natural instincts, your inner voice. That sounded claustrophobic to me, so I never tried it myself.
But now when I write, I can go every day to explore in the fog. It’s a way to hone in on my own natural instincts. A way to keep talking, and learn how to trust. I don’t want to go out in the mist but I can’t just stay here. I want to leave the recovery room . I have no instinct for it yet, feel anxious almost all the time and admit to only the flight part of that habitual syndrome. But knowing that to stay here is a semi-conscious, numb beginning only, I must go. If only the pain medication worked better. If only it hadn’t worn off so soon. If only I didn’t need it at all. If only…