Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird
from "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" by Wallace Stevens.
Palliative care...hospice. Three little words. Just three words in an entire language of words. Yet hearing them from a doctor causes a warp in the space-time continuum where the whole world seems to stop inside your head for a moment, like a movie reel slowed down, garbling all the words that come after. Then the reel speeds up to double time, you're trying to catch up and keep up all at once, while somewhere in the back of your head a voice is saying "hey, THAT just happened."
Our family is still processing, each in their own way. Dad is most incredible, leading the charge like a general in battle and beginning lists, setting meetings and surging forward with surety. The paterfamilias in action, even when the outcome of the battle is a foregone conclusion. We draw strength from him, even as he prepares for his grand exit.
Modern medicine allows us this...something generations past did not have. A forewarning, an estimate of time, a chance to tie up loose ends. It gets me thinking. What would I do? What would I say? How present would I be for each conversation knowing it may be the last one? How lovely, even in the midst of all the misery that surrounds this process, to have the time and the knowledge to make choices, to choose words and parcel them out, to say the things we need to say.
In truth, no one knows the exact timing of these things. Every day is a precious gift, and any one of us could be gone in a moment given the right (or wrong) series of unfortunate events. But on this day, I am extremely grateful to compassionate doctors who took the time to use their words and let us know their read on the situation, who gave us time to weigh our own words with love and tenderness.
And as with all things, for me they are best processed in the studio, letting the paint guide my thoughts.
The blackbird piece above began as these scribbles...loosely inspired by a Dali piece with amorphous floating blobs. Twenty layers later, the bird appeared. And then a link to the poem, referencing the twenty snowy mountains. I like to think the universe had a hand in creating this one. Crow is a messenger of foretelling. It is perfect for this day.