July 2, 2005"Paul and Silas bound in jail, had no money for to go the bail;
Before Jeanie Wylie's first meal home today, a modest Lebanese feast, the four of us went round the circle with intercessions and thanksgivings. When it came to her, Jeanie began to sing as above. We all joined in and knew it to be a prayer of both grace and will, of freedom and intent.
After lunch, we spent some time re-laying Jeanie's altar. Now that the apartment is stripped and cleaned and rearranged, the mahogany library table inherited from her family home has taken that function and overflows gorgeously. A basket stuffed with hospital wrist bands, a ceramic finger labyrinth, bowls and jars of collected rocks and sea shells, smooth sticks and bones, photos and cards and icons, soap stone meditational figurines, talismans, strong woman self-images constructed from earth elements, fire too -- atop a June Keener oil lamp and candles aplenty, fantastic clay animals fabricated by the girls in their childhood hands, angels and anti-war pins, and, of course, her smudge kit of hawk feathers with the huge clam shell we found on the Indian Ocean side of South Africa. We prayed again and she smudged us all with California sage to mark this amazing homecoming, one we more than once doubted.
It's exactly a month since Jeanie went into the hospital. More than two weeks in the ICU draining fluid from her brain and strength from her body. It took 10 days of rehab with the good folks at Cottage Hospital to get her climbing stairs -- the minimum for getting home to our second-floor flat. She did three hours of therapy each day -- physical (muscle strength -- walking, and eventually those stairs), occupational (relearning and practicing daily tasks), and speech (which actually covers most of cognition). Her short term memory was pretty shot and she was "perseverating" which means getting stuck in a repetition. For example she wrote a page-long note to her Mom which started perfectly with declarations of love and then abruptly fixed on an endless repetition of "I have to have to have to..." That's now eased, though it has its behavioral equivalents. She still has some trouble "scanning" her environment, which can be a safety issue. At the outset of her stay, they suggested we have a back-up plan to getting her home, but she put her mind to it and, well, here we are.
Jeanie's Mom and sister Rene Beth were here for five days during rehab. They sent me up north a couple days to where our community was camping the week. I needed it -- basketball and sailing and above all time with Lydia and Lucy sitting on the dock or at tabletalk. With her Mom and sister we had communion at bedside one Sunday, Jeanie reading the Psalm and breaking the bread. Writing this letter makes me realize what a sacramental presence she exercises among us.
Late in her time at rehab, believe it or not, she went fishing on a field trip and reeled in a 14-inch small mouth bass. If they'd have had a camera I bet she'd have appeared on the front page of some local paper, hoisting it up from her wheel chair. Jeanie let the great creature go and by supper time couldn't even remember it, but she was the talk of the hospital for days.
We have to be cautious not to fall back into old care patterns now that she's home -- Jeanie needs more constant attention at least for now. We're convening the discernment group to think some of this through, though it looks like Lydia will quit her summer job and take on a substantial portion of the caregiving. She's lots of energy and ideas for continuing therapy.
Two days before Jeanie came home, I got hit one evening with chest pains that wouldnĺ─˘t quit. The girls were at rehearsal (Godspell and Love's Labors Lost), so I drove myself to the ER. My blood enzymes and an EKG both showed fine, but they kept me overnight to do a stress test the next morning (which I passed handily I might add). It was apparently gastro pain which yet needs to be diagnosed -- not that I've been under stress mind you -- but what relief to have cardio ruled out. And it was a sweet irony, a simple twist of grace, to be heart-wired to a monitor and stuck to a saline drip, not to mention poked and pricked all night, just like Jeanie has been more or less constantly for weeks. It engendered not only thanks, but that sympathy of experience we call intercession.
SCUPE, meanwhile, has been incredibly generous to me (send them a donation in my honor), as my work responsibilities have gotten short shrift these last few weeks -- well, these several months, for that matter. Likewise with my voluntary Word and World commitments. Other hopes for the remainder of the summer include getting back in the work saddle, finding some family vacation time (we're slated for Block Island later this month -- but that's up in the air -- a poor location to have a medical crisis, but a splendid place for body and spirit -- the girls are irrepressibly eager and the ferry reservations are holding firm). Who Knows if life can return to normal? And Who Knows what's baseline normal for us all anyway?
Thanks for your notes and intentions and holdings in the light. They suffice and avail.
With eyes on the gift, love,