The night is soft and lovely as it settles over “The Hill”—Syracuse University. The freshmen started moving in yesterday. I wheel the Hill and wonder.
These kids—our children—come to the university with long, tan legs and eager faces. Their parents accompany them—ahead, behind or beside, all depending—looking concerned or lost. The kids mostly just want their
parents to be gone so they can set out on this journey alone. The official schedule advises families that
they should leave campus after lunch on Friday.
I am a child of the campus. My father was a college professor and so our
family life resonated to the academic schedule.
I got my first library card at the college library, learned to swim in the
college pool, was taught to drive by college students. I have had a long and mixed relationship with Syracuse University—student, employee, volunteer, lecturer, friend. I’m supposed to be writing “a thing” (what in
heaven’s name to call it?) for one of the professors, but my discipline lags.
A year ago at this time, as the chrysanthemums and
pumpkins appeared in the farmers’ market, I wheeled the Hill and wondered if I’d
survive the winter. I didn’t give it better
than a fifty-fifty chance then but here I am now, a year later. And what do I think about this, the beginning
of another academic year and the end of the harvest?
I am thoughtful and wistful; puzzled and hopeful;
sad and scared.
In the past twelve months, I’ve started two blogs,
both of which have been successful beyond my expectations. I publish my writings and people read them. Damn! That’s the way it’s supposed to work! There are multiple calls for me to produce a book.
Spiritually, I rejoined the church and watched it
abandon me again when I became too sick to cross the threshold, so I continue
on my solitary path. I started a
prayer/bible/religious study group at my apartment building. It was small and steady for many months until
I got too sick to continue to lead it.
Nevertheless, I gained two special friends from the group.
Two young women have become my helpers—I think of
them as granddaughters, and cherish them for their bright spirits, steady
hands, competence at all things electronic and, mostly, just for being young. Such energy!
I have acquired a special friend who is as old and
wise and smart as I am on a good day, and as steady and determined as I fail to
be on a bad day. He has patiently,
kindly, seen me through one disaster after another, accompanying me on a
journey to God knows where. He sings to
me; I grin and figure I can make it through one more day.
And I’ve just come out of the hospital and am still
transitioning. After being discharged, I
told a knowledgeable woman that the medical profession has given up on me. “I know,” she said; “I read the file.”
“What’d it say?” I asked.
“Basically, that you’re on your own,” she answered.
I look around the room now, twisting to
escape this knowledge of being abandoned by America’s great medical industry,
and I see a pot of burgundy lilies, a chorus of bright pink gladiolas, a
cluster of vibrant zinnias, and a bowlful of varied sunflowers, and I think, “Don’t
count me out yet.” I feel good!
And that is because I’ve got this Foley catheter
that lets me sleep. Because of the
kidney damage caused by a physician not monitoring a psych med, I have not
slept more than two hours at a time in the past ten years. You cannot imagine what that did to me. You really cannot imagine.
Now I sleep. This
afternoon I had a nap that was so splendid, so deep and restful, so luxurious
and healing, so—ah! An Ode to
Sleep! And it only cost the taxpayers
$25,000. I spent three weeks in the
hospital and what I got out of it was a Foley catheter. What you got were some interesting essays on
the ways and means of modern American medicine, hospital-style.
So, now that I’m on my own (oh, come on—seriously! You’ve always been on your own and you know
it. Everybody is on their own, they just
don’t acknowledge it. Who said, “We live
by illusion and die by reality?” Reality
is that we are all alone, so let’s get on with it.) So now I’m going on the whole food plant diet, see also “Forks over Knives,” Dr. Esselstyn, Sanjay Gupta, Cleveland
Clinic, and my special friend. He’s been
eating bunny food for about two weeks now and is at the testy stage of the diet.
Maybe it’ll cure his heart problems and my diabetes,
and maybe it won’t. Maybe we’ll be
co-presenters at the conference in April, and maybe we won’t. Maybe I’ll write a book or maybe I’ll get an
infection from the Foley catheter and die.
All I know for sure is that the jazz is smooth; the
night is as soft as it is dark, and I am going to sleep well tonight.
And that is all I need to know.