Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stormy Days

Gull on a cloudy day.
Photo© 2012 , Susan E. Hance

The coast has its moods, just like the rest of us. On stormy days the ocean churns and birds fly into the wind and rain, braving the elements until the sky clears and bright sunlight breaks through. Sound like an analogy for life? Maybe it is.

Recently, a friend from long ago found me through Facebook. We caught up via email; how's the family, where do you live now, how's life? She is remarried after finding a person who brings contentment to life, a soul mate for the next leg of the journey. I want things to be good for her. She was good to me on a hot August day long ago.

My water broke during the 11 o'clock news and we drove to New Bern, like night shift workers cutting a path through muggy black air toward the hospital.  Our son's two a.m. arrival came quietly, as his blue lips spurted small sounds and the nurses communicated with looks, not words. Not to say his birth was without fanfare. In the next 48 hours there was a flurry of activity while doctors assessed his large body and weak breathing. By the time he was transported to Duke University Hospital, leaving me on the maternity floor without a baby, I was in desperate need of a friend--and she came through.

She worked as a nurse anesthetist, but on this her day off, she donned her badge so she could skirt visiting hours and keep me company. The doctors came to tell me the sad news: your baby might have a heart or lung defect. Having no idea what that meant for him or what his outcome would be, we had to set our faces into the wind and press on. My friend made the trip more bearable by being there.

Two weeks ago, the love of her life went to the doctor because of a persistent cough. He is fit in every other way and just needed something for the cough. The doctors told them the bad news: lung cancer in a person who has never smoked. Stage IV, spread to brain and bone. Just like that. I cried as if he were my own relative, though I've never met him. If you need someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on, call me, I said. I'll come see you on your New England coast, I said; we'll have coffee or a glass of wine. I can't do much, but sometimes it's just about being there until you can see sunlight again.

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