Wednesday, February 17, 2016

#SOL16: I've Been to Sea Before

I've Been to Sea Before (M.A. Reilly, 2011)

50 days ago when Rob left home for the hospital, I could not know, nor anticipate the changes we all are going through, and that the man who would return home today would be so dramatically different from the one who left. What strikes me most as I look at him now asleep in the hospital bed that has been set up in our family room is the immense difference those 50 days have wrought.  How did I not see this?

He has been sleeping since he arrived home this afternoon and refuses to wake up. Seeing him here again surrounded by all that is so very familiar emphasizes the somber differences.  My husband is leaving and there is nothing I can do to stop it--to stop his death. 

(There I have written it and what does it help?)


I feel a bit foolish thinking how I fretted so this morning at the supermarket. 7:30 a.m. and there I was giving great thought to the foods I would make for Rob, forgetting that he doesn't eat like he once did, nor certainly the three smaller meals a day with wholesome snacks in between that typified his diet prior to this last hospital stay.  Before, cooking whole grain foods, giving him fresh fruits cups and julienned vegetables, and making sure that each meal had some protein comprised a good portion of my day.  I thought if I did it all just right, held up my bargain with God, that somehow this would make the difference. Tonight I know I have failed. God failed too. 

How can the world let this good man die? 


Each night the three of us ate together and I spent hours talking with Rob, listening to him read aloud pages from Palle Yourgrau's A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Gödel and Einstein, or a poem, or a section from the NY Times, or a page from a Korean Zen book he said I most needed hear.  

"You need to take care of yourself, better," he'd warn me. "I am.""No, you're really not. You are too much in your mind."
Rob's Zen Bowl.

And it was such a conversation that led us to the ritual of Rob reading aloud from Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn. As I opened it tonight to read, I find a folded piece of paper Rob must have inserted 2 months ago and I touch the paper as if it were some type of communion. A host that binds us.

I begin reading one of the letters near where we left off:  
Your mind is like the sea. When the wind comes, there are very big waves. When the wind dies down, the waves become smaller and smaller until finally the wind disappears altogether and the sea is like a clear mirror...When you keep a clear mind, the whole universe is you, you are the universe.

Tonight I am all big waves and sick, sick stomach. 
Tonight I am extremes. 

I am the sea howling,

                                   the sea disappearing. 


  1. Mary Ann I think your writing could be put together into a book. This is such a journey that none of us would want to take and yet many others will be faced with this as well.
    Thinking of you.

    1. Not sure I could bear to reread any of this. Write it. Post and move on. Post and move on.

  2. No words.
    But silence too loud.

    Your human center amazes us all.
    Your words healing so many of us as you're torn apart.

    1. i wish I had your background. i feel so inadequate for this task. the 1st night of hospice at home is scary.