Mystic Writer

Peeking out to see if there is a real world out there...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Survivor syndrome

It's been a rough week, and there is little time today to write as there is much to do. Many of my co-workers were let go yesterday, including friends I've known for years. I'm sure we'll stay in touch, but I worry that my keeping my job while they've lost theirs may drive a wedge. It was hardest to say goodbye to my assistant - he's been easy to get along with and someone I've always been able to talk to, and I'm feeling his absence in many ways.

I'm not sure I'll have my job much longer, but at the moment, that doesn't seem to be bothering me - in a way I find some odd comfort with the notion.

It's a short post today - I rarely write well from sadness. I'm going to post some pictures from this last year, simply because it makes me happy to remember those days...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Small wonder

I'm working from home today as my son has the day off from school and I didn't find time to arrange for child care. I had been working for a couple hours when he finally woke up and wandered into my bedroom. He stated "I can't see anything", so I got up and turned off the bright lights I use when my bedroom is my office. I asked "How about now?", and he replied "Nope. Still can't see...". I looked at his scrunched up face and queried "... and that is because...?", smiling because I knew what was coming. He held back a giggle "My eyes are closed!", and with that he fumbled forward, bumping into my bed and worming his way under the covers.

I climbed in with him, as I've done for the last seven years, and, as expected, he asked me to tell him a story. When he was little, I used to make up stories about him in fantastical situations. We even created two imaginary books titled "The boy in bed" and "The boy on the road", and I would always pretend to search for the appropriate book when he wanted a story. The bed book was always available, but the road book was only available when we were traveling, which was just a convenient way for me to get him to go on drives with me.

The imaginary stories stopped being of interest a couple of years ago, and now he likes to hear true stories of his life, and this morning he wanted to hear his birth story. It's a story I love as well, though for reasons far beyond the story he likes to hear, and someday I'll have to try to write those reasons, but today I think I'll simply write the story as I've told it so many times to my little boy.

A bit more than five weeks before my sons due date, Elsa was scheduled to spend a long weekend at a cabin with friends, and I was going to drive several hundred miles to go camping with Henry and Reb. Up till then the pregnancy had been completely normal, and so we really didn't think anything about our plans. Elsa called me at work and told me she had an odd feeling, and she was going to go to the hospital with a friend just to be safe, and that she would call me if there was anything to worry about.

News came quickly after that, and all of it was good. There wasn't any sign that there were problems with the pregnancy, and the odd feelings had gone away, and when Elsa asked whether we could pursue our weekend plans, the doctors had said "Probably". Elsa and I discussed it, and just as we decided to go ahead and travel, the odd feeling came again, and she returned to the hospital.

I met her there, and again there wasn't a diagnosable problem, but the staff was worried and so they had her stay overnight for observation. I stayed with her till the wee hours, then went home to sleep. They kept her in the hospital Saturday, and in the evening they told us they thought my wife was going to deliver. The doctor stopped by and told us that if the baby was born so premature, the baby wouldn't have full lung, kidney, or muscle development. The doctor made it sound very dire, and Elsa and I were filled with fear.

Sunday passed without event, and late Sunday night they told me that they would release her Monday if things still looked OK. Elsa encouraged me to go to work Monday morning to get things in order, even though it was a holiday "just in case", and so Monday I drove the 40 minutes to work at 5am.

An hour later, I finished some work on a server and was just reconnecting it when the phone rang. It was Elsa in a panic "The doctor says we have to deliver this baby NOW!". I was scared, but I truly wanted to be there, and so I asked "Can they wait for me to get there", and Elsa said "No - the doctor is saying it's an emergency", and without any more explanation she hung up. I ran out of my office to my car, and hit the road. I made the 40 minute drive to the hospital in 18 minutes - I remember flying through a 35 mph interchange at near 80 mph - the roads were completely empty as it was 6am on a holiday.

When I arrived, the doctor was there and had changed her mind, wanting some additional tests, and so we whiled away the morning watching TV and napping, till suddenly the doctor rushed in and said that we had to induce labor immediately. After that, things went remarkably quickly - labor was short athough extremely intense, and my memory of the time comes in strobe like flashes. I remember Elsa telling the doctor she needed to rest for a bit, and I remember the doctor getting an incredibly frustrated look on her face and saying "This baby is coming out NOW" through gritted teeth, and suddenly I heard a single tone coming from the computer screen that was monitoring my sons vitals, and I looked and saw all the traces flatline. I had this horrible feeling my baby was dead, and the doctor grabbed a suction device and inserted it, and all the sudden there was my tiny little son slithering out.

The doctor held him for a moment, and handed him to a nurse. My son opened his eyes and mouth, let out an incredible yell, kicked the nurse hard, then urinated on her. The doctors tension fell away, and a wondering look came to her face, and with a proud tone said "Well, I think he just proved us wrong about the lungs, kidneys, and muscles".

Amazingly, my son has never had any troubles resulting from being 5 weeks early, and in fact he was at his optimal birth weight when his 'scheduled' birth date finally arrived.

From the moment he was born, to the moment I saw him about 5 minutes ago, when he asked me what we were going to do for lunch, he has been a wonder and a miracle, and with that I'm off with him to a restaurant.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A moment of warmth

Missouri is water, soft blue and green, burbling smooth across white stone. Missouri is blufftop and oak grove and crunchy leaves in low angle light. Missouri is an empty mountain field of feathery golden grass, and discarded clothes a bed for long lazy sun washed daydreams.

Missouri was a handful of days of silence, of motion free in gentle air, of body leading soul leading body...

A week ago I rose at 3am and hit the road south in bitterly cold weather. My goal was to feel ground under my feet, and to have the feel of damp air filling my lungs. I only had four nights free, and I was willing to cross the country just to walk in shirt sleeves.

The world as I drove was ink sketch exact in the frozen air, and the few lights in the empty land were precise pinpoints. I felt an odd tension, all the little unresolved issues in my life knotting inside, joining with the undeniable danger of the untravelled and icy roads I was on. Suddenly, a slash of light painted itself across the sky, and through my windshield I watched a falling star flare, then leave a slowly fading trail of light. It was astounding, and I realized I was grinning ear to ear and suddenly anticipating my upcoming days of roaming.

Later, many, many miles later, at a moment where the sky was showing just the slightest tinge of pink at the edges, another shooting star cut a path across the sky, and this time I burst into delighted laughter.

I found my sought for warmth in southern Missouri, and spent the next several days exploring caves and streams and mountains, all in soft warm air. On the final evening before heading back north, I was lying on a king size bed in a motel room, thinking about calling it an early night, and suddenly I couldn't stand the notion of not having one last moment before heading into the terrible cold of Minnesota, and I hurriedly dressed, got in my car, and set off on a winding country road.

The sun touched the horizon and I stopped, then walked a little ways to the edge of a valley. Molten copper light flowed along the land from the melting sun. A little breeze kicked up, a contrasting chill to the ambient warmth, and I zipped my jacket up, watching traces of cloud turn bronze, and as the last wedge of the sun slipped below the horizon, the clouds turned lemon against the purple sky, then slowly, slowly darkened.

I started to leave, but there was a sense of something that held me in place. Venus emerged as the sky darkened, and I looked around the sky to see if any stars were popping. Across the valley I noticed a brightening along the edges of a tree bristled slope. A sliver of orange light appeared, a tiny round slice cut by the slant of the mountain. The sliver grew as it climbed, and when it reached the peak, a vast full moon shown in glorious splendor, and in that unexpected moment I felt a sense of joyous peace, of connection to a world full of wonder.

I will hold that moment in the months ahead, use it to warm myself in the frozen days till another full moon brings warmth again...