In spite of all my spiritual study and meditation, my husband Michael does better at living in the moment, and he does it oh so naturally. The past two weeks this attitude of acceptance was an especially good trait to have as the moments went up and down and up again taking us both on a heck of a ride.
On Saturday, July 23 we met our youngest grandchild, Daniel, at the Charlotte Douglas Airport. Twelve year old Daniel came up from Florida to have “the North Carolina Experience.” He made new friends Monday – Friday, attending the Advanced Mountain Sports Camp hosted by the North Carolina Arboretum Youth Education Program. We spent evenings, and the weekends before and after camp, hearing tales of camp and doing a variety of one-of-a-kind mountain activities (Shindig on the Green, the Asheville Drum Circle, seeing the Billy Jonas Band, taking 2D and 3D archery lessons, blueberry picking, fishing, waterfall watching, etc.) Daniel also delighted us with his mastery of magic card tricks perfected watching YouTube tutorials. Quite the kid. A wonderful time. A string of moments up, up, up.
Last Sunday, July 31, Mike drove us to the airport (to sadly see our unaccompanied minor board the plane home) and back to Asheville. Four hours of driving, without expressing any undue fatigue. What a guy!
Monday, August 1, Mike was not in such good shape. Seemed like he was coming down with a cold. Feeling puny, minor cough. I hardly saw him all day as he slept, and slept, trying to fight it off in anticipation of hosting his poker group at our house Tuesday night. Never happened. Down he went.
Tuesday I went into the kitchen after my morning shower to find Mike in his bathrobe eating his regular bowl of cereal, but shaking as if he had just been plucked out of an icy lake. “Get dressed,” I ordered, we’ve got to get you to the doctor’s walk in clinic right now. Down, down we went.
Mike needed help getting out of the Prius at the doctor’s office. The doctor on duty asked for symptoms, took vitals, drew labs, listened to Mike’s chest, and suggested that we go to the ER, “because they can process blood work more quickly than we can here and you can request a full workup.” She was actually gently pushing us toward the right venue for effective and immediate treatment. It was growing increasingly clear from his fragility and disorientation that something was terribly wrong with Mike.
Will Mike’s compromised mind and body return to normal or will the pneumonia leave permanent damage? Stay in the moment; take each day one at a time. Would this health crisis have been any easier to handle had we moved to the continuing care retirement community we rejected this past April? Stay in the moment; don’t look back.
How many times as I struggled to handle helplessness in the face of my mother’s final illness, I was so appreciative for having Michael by my side to help me breathe. Now I was facing that dreaded moment, wondering if Michael himself would continue to breathe; would once again be able to put a lucid sentence together. But I was not alone. Our son Doug backed me up from afar. Local community ties were close at hand. Our son Chuck offered to help with recovery. Down or up; which way would we go? Stay in the moment another night. And Thursday we took the express elevator up. What a miracle.
And so it begins. And so it continues. Young old age, 65 – 75. Old old age, 76 – 95. Elite old age, 96+. The years fly by. The ups and downs turn in a blink. One day at a time. One decade at a time. One moment at a time. As long as you have breath. Just breathe and find the best in each.