Loose Ends


Another year lingers to an end;
Heaven sends a bitter frost.
Fallen leaves cover the mountains
And there are no travelers to cast shadows on the path.
Endless night: dried leaves burn slowly on the hearth
Occasionally, the sound of freezing rain.
Dizzy, I try to recall the past —
Nothing here but dreams. 


–from One Bowl, One Robe the Zen poetry of Ryokan


How do we ground ourselves when there is so much uncertainty? How do we stay mindful and in the moment when each new text coming in is reporting on a new COVID case? How long do we quarantine, how do we know what to do about any of it?  How low are my white blood cells i.e. how serious will it be if I get COVID? No one knows. Chemo is ongoing and I’m pretty weak though my scans are stable and even improving. But the days drag on as I recover between each infusion. 


I feel unmoored. My cognitive challenges, thanks to whole brain radiation last fall, make it hard to read, or actually remember what I just read. My hands are shaky making cooking and writing challenging, yet here I am! I’m not nauseous, I haven’t vomited in 10 days. My appetite is good. My husband and son are well and care for me in countless ways. The delicious meals continue to show up delivered by smiling, masked faces. 


Time stretches like well-kneaded pasta dough. It feels fragile yet full of possibility. What can I do with my late afternoon? By this time I’ve worked as much as I feel I can but it’s not time for dinner. I could meditate. I could always meditate more and I resist, am bored and distracted all at once. When will the mail arrive? Will my son need another snack? How can I make myself useful? There is plenty to do but there’s that stretchy time again. . . It should be wonderful to have so much time but my mind wanders and I check the mirror to see if the 6 eyelashes on my left eye have finally come out entirely. I don’t feel as sick as the bald head and missing eyelashes make me look! I wonder if I’ll ever have hair again–I think I will!:) I keep my wool hat on to stay cozy in the meantime. It’s cold being bald!


And now, having actually sat down to write, even this stream of consciousness, I feel less unmoored, more connected to my fellow humans. I will write more blog posts and hopefully they will include a recipe! Meantime, happy new year! May you be healthy and happy!