I left JP’s this morning in the cold clear blue, sunlight glancing off the snow like arrows.  I’m caring for her three nights a week for several weeks and this means staying in her guest bedroom, filling up her insulin syringe, coming like a shot when she calls in the night, listening mostly to her self-deprecating humor, unselfconscious wisdom.  This woman is becoming dear to me, and when I told her that I was going to show proof of (decreased) income to Interfaith today, hoping they wouldn’t kick me out of the program, she said ok, oh honey I know that’s hard stuff, I’ll pray for you today I really will.  When I got to Interfaith and handed over the two Ackermann check stubs and the copies of the two most recent  G checks, the lady told me that I still qualified … by three bucks.  I make $503 a month, now.  You can’t make less than $500/mo. to stay in the program.  This change of income had  been a worry, but a small one, since I haven’t had room to doubt, these past months, that I’m going to make it.  That my finances are going to make it, my body is going to make it, that I’m going to make it.  After this I pulled into the Regions parking lot and waited with the other riffraff for the bank to open, deposited checks, and drove home under this sky, the cold clear blue.

I’ve forgotten what it was like to ponder death, or the unexpected.  But unexpectedly I keep my insurance, unexpectedly I make so much money that I can think about spending it (instead of paying it), unexpectedly I’m friends with an eighty-year-old woman who takes Darvocet (my old friend!) and is slowly leaving life, whose life has been larger than I can ever understand, who told me tonight after I put her to bed that she loved me. 

My life has changed so much in a year.  Of course, the only thing about life that you can be sure of is that you never know what will happen, and letting go of what’s passing (I could call this “growing up”) and trying to not be afraid of what may be coming … is a new way to live, for me.  The uncertainty of cancer & recurrence is like the uncertainty of relationships, all their inexplicable webs of pain and the inexplicable entrance of forgiveness, which in turn is like the uncertainty of bonds, to places or people or whatnot.  I’m thinking about all this.  How I never thought I’d get cancer, never thought I’d leave East Tennessee again, never thought anybody would stick around long enough to thank me “for being fragile,” and when I said “why the f-ing hell would you be thankful for that,” to say “I love you.”  He said that.  As if fragility had honor, as if I had honor. 

After a lot of thought, today, I’ve decided I’m up for it.  I know — the recklessness of it — but today I’m up for life.  Which means of course, I’m up for suffering.  I’m up for  learning to be as patient as JP with the length of life.  Since it is so very long, so long, so long.  This after watching the mourning doves crowding the seed/breadcrumbs/wildlife feast the neighbors left out this morning.  The towhee came back, too, isn’t it strange?  No sparrows or titmice or chickadees?  Just the doves, the towhee, and a female cardinal.  Anyways sorry blah blah, but they milled around with the snow sparkling around them while I read about the older brother in the Prodigal Son story, I watched them and thought about my total frustration with my lack of fatted calf party, my reluctance to believe that I have the sort of honor that would make God say to me “you are always with me.”  Somehow I am with God and He is bringing so much change to me.  Humbling me & stuff.  Which, as Mom said, is a gift, a sign of favor.  I have wanted to be favored …

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