What is it about the new year that makes us think we have control over our lives…to intention them better as if we have an extra likely chance to change our lives if we start thinking about our goals in January? When our feet his the floor on January 1st, maybe our lives will feel different—at least with boosted potential.
For me, the week after Christmas felt like a door between the past year and the future-as-I-hope-it, a pleasant kind of limbo between two lives. Vernon had no pressing needs, no more than usual. He seemed stable enough to take the focus off him for a bit so I was more available for the kids. We took down the tree and boxed the decorations. We got out of town for a few nights to visit friends. We relaxed and had fun. I made vague resolutions about my health and time spent more wisely.
Though New Year’s Day was graciously uneventful, that evening, I got a call from Mesa Verde, informing me that Vernon had pulled out his dialysis catheter and would be sent to Hoag Hospital’s emergency room. In the end, he was admitted and underwent replacement surgery today. “Well Vernon, what a way to start the year running!” I thought. Maybe he, like I, resolved to be done with the horrible dialysis one way or another. He is just less patient, understandably. This is NOT the surgery that is still slated for Monday afternoon. He’ll have two surgeries before the week is done. 2016 looks a lot like 2015 from here.
But as Vernon recovered in the room this afternoon, looked after by nurses and patient sitters (to keep him from falling and tugging at his lines) in that same hospital we’ve been in so many times now (this time on a new floor!) I realized how much better he seemed today than all the other times. Even with a bleeding wound that needed several re-dressings, he seemed calm and mostly-present. He had some rapid mood swings but he seemed as much himself as ever. And he was markedly polite.
I happened to have an anthology of poems with me, not sure why I picked up that book on my way out of the house. At one point of discomfort, Vernon shushed me up so I turned to read for a bit, and I came across this poem: “The Present” by Michael Donaghy.
“For the present there is just one moon,
though every level pond gives back another.
But the bright disc shining in the black lagoon,
perceived by astrophysicist and lover,
is milliseconds old. And even that light’s
seven minutes older than its source.
And the stars we think we see on moonless nights
are long extinguished. And, of course,
this very moment, as you read this line,
is literally gone before you know it.
Forget the here-and-now. We have no time
but this device of wantonness and wit.
Make me this present then: your hand in mine,
and we’ll live out our lives in it.”
For me it was a poignant concept to visit on this second day of the year. Life doesn’t stop. Moments keep passing. We can look ahead (or back) all we want but life keeps coming at us like the wind. Its not happening in the future or the past. It’s happening now. It’s what we are given.
The gift is the present.