Sunday, February 28, 2010


Sometimes I am unable to find adequate words for what lies in my heart, and yet, I cannot remain silent. At these moments, I borrow the words of others.

If you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

- Kahlil Gibran

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Friendship needs no words - it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness.

- Dag Hammarskjold

Friday, February 26, 2010

In the Kitchen

What is that odd humming noise?

Why, it is Herself, puttering around the kitchen. Lately, she has been spending more time cooking, and it makes her quite cheerful, particularly in view of the several lean years when opportunities for trying new recipes were sparse.

When the Offspring were younger, they were extremely hesitant to try any new foods. The phrase, "Plain Eaters," is most descriptive. No sauce, no oddly shaped nuggets, no unusual textures, no different foods touching one another, thank you very much. Offspring the third was particularly temperamental, diet-wise: as a toddler, he would either nurse or attempt to ingest sandbox sand, but did not deign to put anything else into his mouth.

In addition, her opportunities to prepare regular or interesting meals for her Beloved have been less frequent than she would like. This is directly related to the very long hours which he works - it is nearly impossible (not to mention, quite irritating) for him to attempt to provide an answer to the question, "when will you be home?" Thus, planning a meal in advance is difficult. To avoid frustration and wasted meals, Herself has arranged a compromise with her Beloved: she no longer asks him to indicate when he will be home, and in exchange, she does not prepare a meal in advance unless asked.

You can see that there has not been much interesting cooking to be done. However, as time has passed, there has been a slow evolution in the kitchen.

As the Offspring have aged, they have slowly broadened their narrow food habits, and now will at least taste a new item from time to time. Surprisingly, it is Offspring the third who now is most willing to try new foods. He even enjoys cooking with Herself on occasion. Also, Herself is learning more about simple and quick meals that she can prepare for her Beloved, so she has the satisfaction of providing him dinner even if it is not particularly elaborate.

Plus, the taekwondo gym has afforded her many opportunities: she bakes muffins for the masses, and she has occasions to make a loaf of bread, cookies, or other items for her friends. In addition, she periodically provides a meal for a particular friend who works quite hard and (she hopes) benefits from not having to prepare food after a very long day.

Sometimes she worries that it seems a bit odd, how often she cooks for her friends. She hopes that they realize that it is, in fact, they who do her a favor by accepting what she offers. It makes her quite happy to spend time in her kitchen and to provide food for them. And what the world needs is a little bit more happiness. Plus, a muffin.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hello. Hello? Hello!

Herself is not a fan of the telephone. She loathes making calls. Why? It's a combination of factors: first, there's the fear that she might be inconveniencing or interrupting someone by calling; second, there's the self-conscious concern that she might say something dim-witted or ask an inane question. Oddly, she has much less difficulty answering the telephone. If you've gone to the trouble of calling, she will gladly pick up her end and do her best to maintain the conversation.

Herself's telephone serves multiple purposes, with calls forming only a small part. It is used primarily for text message and e-mail, as well as FaceBook updates on occasion. She carries it with her wherever she goes.

Her current phone equipment, however, appears to have reached the end of its lifespan. It is plagued with mechanical difficulties. So, Herself has ordered a new telephone, and it arrives tomorrow.

Truthfully, it's quite exciting. She very rarely ever purchases something of significance for herself - the needs of everyone else in the family come first. Yet by ensuring her telephone works properly, she ensures that she is always available to the family, and thus, the expense is justified.

I'm looking forward to the new phone myself. I might even place a call or two, just because I can.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Today was the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure, 5K run. Herself valiantly pinned on her number, attached an "In Memory of Aunt Bernice" sign, and lined up with the horde. She oddly felt near tears two minutes before the race began, but once she was up and running, she let go of all thought and listened to her music and ran. She was not anywhere near the fastest - 40th out of 62 in her age bracket - but she ran the whole way, and surpassed her secret goal of covering the distance in under 35 minutes. At 30 minutes and 46 seconds, she crossed the finish line.

Never in any of her dreams did she imagine such a feat would be possible for her. Proof that miracles can happen, and do happen.


Monday, February 15, 2010


Come To My Window

I would dial the numbers just to listen to your breath
I would stand inside my hell and hold the hand of Death
You don't know how far I'd go to ease this precious ache
You don't know how much I'd give or how much I can take

Just to reach you

- Melissa Etheridge

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love On Her Arms

Today is To Write Love On Her Arms day.

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring. - Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Little Gifts

"I made this in art class. It's a square pyramid. Would you like it?" - Offspring the Third

Yes, thank you. I'll keep it on my desk and think of you when I look at it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


"Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it. As busy, active, relevant ministers, we want to earn our bread by making a real contribution. This means first and foremost doing something to show that our presence makes a difference. And so we ignore our greatest gift, which is our ability to enter into solidarity with those who suffer. Those who can sit in silence with their fellowman, not knowing what to say but knowing that they should be there, can bring new life in a dying heart. Those who are not afraid to hold a hand in gratitude, to shed tears in grief and to let a sigh of distress arise straight from the heart can break through paralyzing boundaries and witness the birth of a new fellowship, the fellowship of the broken."

- Henri Nouwen

Friday, February 5, 2010

Freeing The Albatross

As a disembodied Ninja, I am blessedly free of the ravages that illness and time can inflict upon the body.

Not so, Herself.

She does not speak much of the several long years during which she battled a serious, but ultimately unknown, illness. The neurological impact of the condition was difficult: ataxia, paresthesias, difficulties with balance and coordination. Exercise? Impossible: even walking around the block, there was too much danger of falling. The coexistent gastrointestinal problems diminished even the most basic enjoyment of having a good meal, and the neurological pain made it difficult even to perform the beloved task of preparing baked goods – batter could not be stirred, bread could not be kneaded. Hives and raging itch compounded the discomfort, and she was literally uncomfortable within her own skin. What was the cause?

The neurologist investigated various diagnoses: was it multiple sclerosis? Acute intermittent porphyria? Lupus? Tests upon tests. MRIs, spinal tap, GI tract biopsy, seemingly gallons of blood given up in the hopes of identifying the problem, and ultimately finding a solution. Following each bout of illness, a few months’ reprieve, and they would wonder: was this the last of it? When will it return? Like waiting for the other shoe to drop, she listened carefully to her body, wondering if the sounds she heard were merely a quiet breeze, or the first winds of an uncontrollable hurricane.

Ultimately, there was no answer. Ever the scientist, however, she would yearn for a name for this disease. What was it? She and her Beloved took to calling it The Albatross. Hung around her neck, it was her burden to bear. Its shadow hung over her, every day.

Seven years have passed since the first terrible episode, and Herself has improved greatly and has gradually been able to resume her regular activities. Though her balance still suffers on occasion and she is unable to sleep on her left side because of lingering paresthesias, the amelioration has been steady, and the spectre of the illness no longer haunts her as it once did. In the meanwhile, however, other health issues have interwoven themselves. What is that thyroid nodule? Biopsy, benign, medicate. What is that mass appearing on the dental X-ray? Retention cysts in her sinuses, no treatment necessary… yet. A mundane hernia repair was necessary after paying the toll for carrying three successive nine-pound babies. Then there were the months of pain and misdiagnoses, culminating in an unnecessarily delayed, but ultimately correct, determination of a gallbladder gone bad and the blessed relief of cholecystectomy. And ordinary midlife woman woes – is she in danger of becoming anemic, cycling so heavily? Anesthesia, medical intervention; continued and increasing difficulty, finally requiring permanent surgical intervention.

With each twist of the medical path, she has found herself increasingly angered by the breakdown of the physical machinery yet again. Her efforts to nourish properly, to exercise, and to care for her body have been met with small betrayal after small betrayal. Rage and frustration.

When she first began tae kwon do, she did not know whether it even would be possible for her to participate fully, given her physical challenges. She needed to try, though. She wanted so very much to reclaim her physical territory, to control the body whose illnesses had been dictating her activities for so long. And despite the intermittent setbacks – a badly sprained ankle, one of the surgeries – she has persevered. She has tried. She used the elliptical trainer, or even walked, when she could not go to class. She tried again. She resumed class. She occasionally sparred. She tried more.

Now, there are even days when she forgets that each minute she spends on the mat is, in fact, a miracle. She has learned, too, that a setback is no longer an assault, but rather, a trial to overcome. She is hopeful, for the first time in ages. She has come so very far, and she knows at last that she has the willpower to meet the challenges she has faced, or may face in the future, whatever they may be.

She is finally free of her Albatross.

She celebrates her freedom with the challenge of a 5K race. She has never been a runner. She does not run quickly. But she now can run. She may have finally reached a point where a 5K run is within her grasp. Can she do it?

If she can – and even if she is the very last runner to cross the finish line – she wins.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Will you lift me up with tender care?
Will you wash me clean in the palm of your hands?
Will you hold me close so I can thrive?

When you touch me, that's when I know I'm alive.

- Newsboys

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I accompanied Herself on her pilgrimage north to the Home Office. It was a whirlwind. A single day in the office, punctuated on either side by a day's worth of travel by car, bus, plane, tramway, plane, bus, car. With the aid of that miracle substance, Dramamine, she and I were able to sleep comfortably through most of the journey, which was helpful, as the visit to the office would otherwise have been quite draining.

That day went remarkably well. It was a bit odd, as she was treated a bit like a minor celebrity: while most, if not all, of her coworkers have heard of her, many had never actually laid eyes upon her, and several stopped by to make her acquaintance. Others bestowed upon Herself a multitude of compliments on her appearance, commenting in particular on her apparent lack of aging and her svelte appearance. It was gratifying for Herself, although quite a bit alarming, as she is unaccustomed to being even remotely adjacent to the center of attention and is much more comfortable working quietly in the shadows than standing in the spotlight.

Herself had a taste of working in the office instead of at home; she managed to survive presenting to a large group of people her PowerPoint discussion of an interesting case on which she had worked, and received positive feedback for the presentation; she saw all the people with whom she has worked most, and whom she misses considerably. It was enjoyable and bittersweet.

She returned home to a family that was extremely grateful for her presence. The Offspring were quite glad for Herself to resume the preparation of food and the running of the household in the manner to which they are accustomed. Her Beloved looked quite relieved at her return; Herself confided in me later that this was the very first time that she truly realized the depth to which she is relied upon by him. Rather than being irritated by her family's inability to care for the pets and themselves adequately in her absence, instead she looks upon her family with added tenderness, because they need her and are happier with her here. She has been validated.

There was one unique aspect of this trip. Herself had wished for, hoped for, longed for, the event to transpire, and when it indeed occurred, her relief and happiness was palpable: for the very first time, she returned home from her pilgrimage without the weight of sorrow that has always accompanied her in other visits to the Home Office. Now, while she still misses her colleagues, she is not lonely. Her friends are here. There aren't adequate words to express her joy at finally feeling that she is part of a community of people here. She is blessed.

In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson:

We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.