Brigadoon or Shangri-La

Living in a hospital room with the love of your life who is so ill, sleeping in a fold-up bed that every night you get out,unfold and crawl into, hustling down the hall to the nearest women’s toilet, deciding you don’t really care if your hair is standing up on the back of your head and just trying to be reasonably modest in your nightgown and wrinkled robe–well, all I can really say is that I appear to be getting more used to it.

At first it felt like my grief over not being home, over not having our companion animal, sweet Akamai, with us, at my age feeling and in a real sense being homeless–it wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I felt all the time as if my flesh was on fire, as if the locus of the pain was all over my body as well as in my heart and brain. I couldn’t draw a deep breath and felt, though I don’t think this part was true, that my throat was closing up.

Amazing what runaway emotions can do to a person. Especially when you think you’re firmly in touch with who you are and what you’re about. All I can say is that life seems to pitch monkey wrenches into the most modest of desires. I long for our little house, for our bed which I find wonderfully comfortable, for stumbling out of bed in the morning and going out in the kitchen to make my first cup of coffee, getting dressed, reading the newspaper to see what’s up in town.

Simple, provincial routines and pleasures that in a real sense, at certain stages of life, make life worth living. The truth, though, is that I’ve always enjoyed these things since I was a young woman in my first apartment. The little routines frame the day and sustain living through the ups and downs.

Driving through town not many days ago, I joked about whether our town has become Brigadoon or Shangri-La to me. Brigadoon is an old movie about a town that only appeared to outsiders something like every 200 years; the rest of the time it was simply not there to anyone who didn’t live in it. I think Brigadoon was originally a stage musical. Shangri-La is the little town in the Himalayas that may or may not exist and, if it does, is tremendously difficult to reach. It’s from a movie and maybe originally from a novel.

In a real sense, wherever Lowell is is home to me, so that part is fine. He’s sleeping now; his treatment is very tiring. I am glad to be here, doing whatever little things I can for him. It’s a truism that home is where the heart is.

Of course my heart seems a little split; maybe that’s where the pain comes from. Whatever home is and wherever, much of it remains a golden dream.

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