This has been a special week for Justine and me, as we had beloved visitors at the house.
Two of my dear friends from CalArts days came to hang out with us…one bringing her 7 year old son who has long been another brother-figure to Justine.
I’ve known my girlfriends for 22 years each, so it was really nice of them to come and take care of us, filling the fridge, doing the laundry, taking us out, generally spoiling us rotten.
We laughed as we looked back at our friendship…wondering what our younger selves would have thought about our conversations about reading glasses and blood-pressure medications. Of course that would get us laughing all over again.
Besides hospital visits (they wanted to spend time with Vernon too), and a trip to Legoland for the kiddos, we all went whale watching on what turned out to be a magnificent summer afternoon.
It didn’t take long for the captain to find a good spot, and we must have seen about 10 blue whales on our two-hour tour (some close up…some further away, so we could only see the spray.)
The sight of a whale should take anyone’s breath away. Here is a mother and child.
A blue whale is the largest animal on earth and so elusive, its a treat to catch a view. They only come to the surface for about a minute at a time before going under for another 9 minutes. Once it goes down for food, all we can do is scan the ocean for more, wondering where it will surface again, and hoping that we are close when it does.
And it feels like a long time. But its still pleasant. For me the ocean air felt so good, so fresh on a warm day, the sound of the water lapping against the boat was calming. In some ways I enjoyed just being out in the big blue more than watching for whales.
And then there was the view.
And DOLPHINS! What could be better than frolicking dolphins, really?
And then…the grand event emerges again.
Only to go under for another 9 minutes…
While out on the water, I started to reflect on the similarities of watching Vernon’s progress. Granted, the ‘out at sea’ metaphor has come up many times in this journey, and whale watching gave it yet another dimension. I get so excited when I see a new movement or sign of awareness from Vernon, and maybe it lasts for a couple of days before he ‘goes under’ again…out of tiredness or a fever or maybe even the dialysis wearing him out for awhile. Maybe his brain is just taking a break after the effort of making new connections. I have to be careful when this happens not to get frustrated, watching the same spot too obsessively, because I might miss his surfacing somewhere else. I have to keep my eyes scanning the horizon loosely.
It does sometimes feel that for every one minute of surfacing, there is another 9 minutes of inactivity.
So I have to be aware of the other wonderful things happening are all around me. The fresh air, the magnificent view, the joy of the dolphins, the beauty of passing sailboats, the stillness of the moment I am in.
Because he will surface again. He always does. And it is always a wonder . And it is worth the wait.