I write things that never get posted. Here are some things I found in a few files from several months ago.
We got up at 5 in the morning to see the lunar eclipse. Wrapped up in blankets and a sleeping bag on the deck with the moon hanging perfectly far away above the sea and us getting all dewy damp.
The mystic way to the back garden lies down a narrow stairway with patterned textiles and warm golden light and a couple of turns and through a workroom – now through a narrow hallway, turn right, then left and down four steps into Jean’s studio with high ceiling, the big work table, the sewing machines, journals, materials and mystic masks on the wall – wolf, goat, crows, spirit animals all – through the door onto the covered back porch, past a chaise on the left and on the right, chairs and two big work tables, and now the back yard.
The back yard is small. A path curves off the back porch/deck. Step down 1 – 2 – 3, with chamomile growing between the steps and mint on either side and the path curving past a low stone wall on the right with the large flax plant and earlier in the year there were tomato and pepper plants, and basil, lettuce, and chard. On the left succulents, day lilies, hydrangeas, a bush with purple flowers, calla lilies, and a stone Buddha statue. There is a bamboo grove and a patio where I’m building two raised bed grow boxes.
Streams of consciousness…
The past, running through me alive, beautiful, love not lost love alive and within, reborn, 73 years, death not too far away and how can I lose? Love behind, Love now, Love beyond. Reborn into this!
This endless summer, this endless summer of love.
Jean drove me to the ER at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. I had been short of breath for several days, waiting to go like any other dodgy patient. (I asked myself, what would I say to a friend or patient with sob – go to the ER, of course. So I did.) They took me back right away while Jean waited out front. They took vitals, drew blood, EKG and put me in a room. I went out to the waiting room. “Go home.” “No.” “Go, I’m fine.” “I’ll wait.” But finally she went. CXR, chest CT. Out of cell phone touch.
The past, Love; the now, Love; the beyond, Love. In the room, thinking of Leslie, David, Jean, David, Jean, Leslie, Jean, Leslie, David, life, love. It won’t be, but what if this is the last thing I write? I’ve lived, I’ve loved, I’ve been loved. My epitaph.
And I will never grow so old again. Close to three years ago I was so old. I was dark and dying and now I’m reborn.
The things I will leave.
I imagine when it happens – when I die – I’ll feel a pulse of fear.
Finally, they cut me loose, with some abnormal findings and instructions to follow-up. More on that in a moment.
We flew to New Orleans with Bill and Lisa to celebrate Bill’s 70th. In a club in the Treme, sitting in the back (kind of the senior section). Rock & Roll will live forever.
I am happy. It’s 12/1, 2017, 747 pm.
And we’ll walk down the avenue in style,
And we’ll walk down the avenue and we’ll smile,
And we’ll say, “Baby, ain’t it all worthwhile.”
When you hear the music ringing in your soul,
And the feeling in your heart just grows and grows…
The moon was shining bright when we awoke in the alive night. We made love in the dawning light.
Reading Chops WanderWeird’s book, Remember: “I’ll tell you of many things, but the first and most important is that you already know all of this” (one of the hippest things I’ve ever read), and you, Jean already know all of this. I don’t think Chops was trying to tell us anything we don’t already know; he wants to help us Remember.
Three days in New Orleans with Bill and Lisa. We stayed in a 2 bedroom, 2 bath house a block off Magazine Street and a few blocks from St. Charles. Gumbo, fried oysters, hush puppies, beignets, all of that. We went to Frenchman’s Street and had a good time bar-hopping (no drinking, no problem). The second night we (Lisa, that is) tracked down a really good singer (Myschia Lake) we’d heard the first night. Hanging out at Chickie Wah-Wah bar. The third night we went to a bar that Jean had been to a few years ago. There we were in the Bullet Sports Bar in the Treme’ – Rock and roll, black and white, young and old, good and good.
I went to my internist today. At the beginning of the visit I said this to her:
I’m 73. I’ve lived longer than anyone ever in my family – partly because of the way I live and partly by luck.
I was married for 45 years to my high school sweetheart. She passed away almost three years ago. The grief was terrible. “It never occurred to me that you could love someone the same way after he was gone, that I would continue to feel such love and gratitude alongside the terrible sorrow, the grief so heavy that at times I shiver
and moan under the weight of it” (from When Breath Becomes Air). I know about this.
For the past year and a half I’ve been in a relationship with a remarkable woman in Berkeley, so I’m there more than here. I have a ticket to return to California next week. And we have tickets to India in January.
All this to say, I have a strong sense of my mortality and I’m intent on living as well as possible.
The internist responded to my situation and got a hurry
-up echocardiogram scheduled. The echo showed a need for further assessment, specifically a cardiac catheterization.
On Friday morning at 0900, the cardiac clinic called to ask if I was coming to my appointment at 0920. This was the first I’d heard of the appointment. I said I could be there in about 40 minutes, but they were unwilling to do this (to my great irritation) and so scheduled me for an afternoon appointment, which was okay with me. When I got to the appointment, I learned
that the doctor’s name was Aslan ___.
About 15 years ago in a wilderness area of Big Bend National Park I had a very close encounter with a mountain lion. I had walked away from my campsite to pee and as I started to unzip, I heard a sound and looked up to see the cougar standing about 40 feet away looking at me with those great golden eyes (later, I paced it off; the animal really was that close). Feeling that I should be cool about the situation, I went ahead and unzipped and urinated, all the while talking to the cougar in what I hoped was a reassuring voice. It sat down and began licking its chest, but still looking at me. I zipped back up and turned and walked away – later to learn that you’re not supposed to turn your back on a mountain lion. This encounter had great significance to me. I
realized that this was my spirit animal.
And now, a doctor named lion (Aslan) was going to perform a cardiac catheterization on me. Talk about a feeling of confidence and synchronicity – glad I didn’t make it to the earlier appointment!
Jean flew in to be with me through the process. Jean and John and I went to UTSW.
On the day of the procedure they took me into the cath room (not quite an OR, but not your average procedure room, either). Everybody is gowned and
masked and it seems serious. I was looking around wondering if this would be the last thing I saw. Someone asked me if there was any music I’d like to listen to. I said no, whatever the doctor liked was what I wanted. They said, oh, never mind, what do you like? I said I’d been listening to the Ramones, I Wanna be Well. They didn’t think they had any Ramones and then someone said, don’t they have a song called I Wanna be Sedated. So I sang part of Sedated to them – “20-20-24 hours to go, I wanna be sedated. Nothin’ to do, nowhere to go, I wanna be sedated.” We had a good time with that, though I can’t really sing like Joey. Then someone walked up to me and said, “I heard you want to be sedated.” I said, “Oh yeah.” And so she started the versed or fentanyl, whichever goes first. I woke up however long later – all was well – Jean was there – they had not needed to put in a stent. “Oh yeah, I wanna be well.”
The endless summer: an endless summer is not something that just happens. It needs intention and focus and a high consciousness (like “I embrace your anger.”), and above all, Love.
John and Sherry gave me a copy of Devotions (Patti Smith), one of a series of books on “Why I Write.” The first paragraph of this book sparked this…
When I was about 10 I had a vision of the suffering of the world (embodied in my own small suffering – though it didn’t seem small at the time).
When I was 21, home from the war in Vietnam, I made a commitment to myself to never waste my life (though I believe that nothing is something worth doing – Shpongle). And I had a vision that we all are one and took the bodhisattva vow. What was I to do? Leslie was already doing service. I had a groovy little store, The New Store, where I sold waterbeds, waterbed frames, shelves, tables – the store motto was “The New Store is a Wooden Ship.” Then I saw a way to integrate
the visions and commitments. I went back to school for a year of prerequisites and then on to nursing school, worked as an RN, then graduate school, then hospice, refugees, education, nurse practitioner, primary care. I started writing in 1984 as a way to expand on the vision – healing the sick, relieving suffering (going back to the bodhisattva vow), working toward one world, and so on. Following are titles (pasted from c.v.) of some of what I wrote:
Books: Infectious and Tropical Diseases: A Handbook for Primary Care, Refugee and Immigrant Health, Terminal Illness: A Guide to Nursing Care.
Book chapters: Promoting Healthy Partnerships with Refugees and Immigrants, Culture and Spiritual Care at the End-of-Life, Spiritual Care in Terminal Illness, Anorexia and Cachexia, Six Stories, Promoting Healthy Partnerships with Refugees and Immigrants, Grief and Loss, Refugee and Immigrant Health, The Baylor Community Care Program, Grief, Refugee Health and Community Nursing, Cambodian Refugee Health Project.
Articles (in peer-reviewed journals such as the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Cancer Nursing, etc. – with thanks to co-authors): Living as a refugee, Cultural issues in palliative care, Community health nursing: Where we are going and how to get there, Culture and the end of life: Major world religions, Culture and the end of life: Chinese, Infectious diseases of refugees and immigrants: Hookworm, Culture and the end of life: Nigerians, Infectious diseases of refugees and immigrants: Viral hemorrhagic fevers, Culture and the end of life: (Asian) Indian health beliefs and practices related to the end of life, Culture and the end of life: East African cultures-Part II, Sudan, Infectious diseases of refugees and immigrants: Giardiasis, Culture and the end of life: East African cultures-Part I, Somalia, Bioterrorism: Introduction and major agents, Infectious diseases of refugees and immigrants: Filariasis, Infectious diseases of refugees and immigrants: Echinococcosis (hydatid disease), Culture and the end of life: East African cultures-Part I, Sudan, Infectious diseases of refugees and immigrants: Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers, Infectious diseases of refugees and immigrants: Dengue fever, Infectious diseases of refugees and immigrants: Chagas’ disease, Infectious diseases of refugees and immigrants: Brucellosis, Culture and the end of life: East African cultures-Part I, Somali, Infectious diseases of refugees and immigrants: Ascaraisis, Infectious diseases of refugees and immigrants: Amebiasis, Infectious diseases of refugees and immigrants: Introduction, Culture and the end of life: Hispanic cultures (Mexican-Americans), Culture and the end of life: Cambodians and Laotians, Culture and the end of life: Introduction (to a series), Vietnamese health beliefs and practices related to the end of life, Metastatic spread and common symptoms: Pancreatic, prostate, stomach, and uterine cancers, Metastatic spread and common symptoms: Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, oral cavity, and ovarian cancers, Metastatic spread and common symptoms: Lung cancer, melanoma, and multiple myeloma, Metastatic spread and common symptoms: Renal cancer, leukemia, and hepatic cancer, Metastatic spread and common symptoms: Breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and esophageal cancer, Laotian health care beliefs and practices, Metastatic spread and common symptoms: Introduction, bladder cancer, and brain cancer, Palliative care for respiratory problems in terminal illness, Cancer detection activities coordinated by nursing students in community health, Managing chronic pain in patients with advanced disease and substance-related disorders, Islamic cultures: Health care beliefs and practices, Palliative care for patients with acquired immunodeficiency disorder, Spiritual care in terminal illness: Practical applications, Community health clinical experiences: The primary care setting, Teaching strategies for operationalizing nursing’s agenda for health care reform, Preparing for death: A Christian guide for individuals and families, Health services for refugees in countries of second asylum, Writing successful grant proposals for services to clients, Addressing the needs of underserved populations, Basic counseling skills: the refugee client. Cambodian refugee health care beliefs and practices, The dying process.