Wednesday, August 31, 2005

TUESDAY, August 31, 2005

TUESDAY, August 31, 2005
I’m sitting on a bridge in Redding overlooking the Sacramento river. It’s spectacularly beautiful in an almost unreal way. Trees huddle at the riverbank, crowding each other into toppling off the sides so that their branches drape down into the current. The sun is at my back and overhead a the engine of a prop plane drones by like an oversized bumblebee.

I made good time yesterday, and I’m not in a terrific rush so I’m taking a few moments this morning instead of jumping right on the highway, to sip my Starbucks on this bridge which I had seen driving out for dinner last night.

I talked to Suzanne yesterday, and her biggest thing with Tim is getting him to eat. Nobody knows anything about what his prognosis is, the lumps remain undiagnosed and will apparently remain so. I feel like I’m standing at a doorway that opens into pitch blackness. Mysteries are only good for reading or watching, not living.

So I guess the answer is as I have always known it is, that I am going to be of service, whatever that entails, and right now that seems to entail getting food into the boy in some manner or another.

Suzanne’s voice is so tight and frightened. She is really scared and I’m glad I’m going for that as well. I think PL and I are the only ones she can let down her guard around and say the things she wants to say.

I have also decided to keep a record of this for myself. Somehow. I was talking to my friend Parker last night and I realized that the other side of what appears to be something sad, is also something beautiful, and that is a gift that Tim is giving us. And as has been said better by others, life is a series of moments that occur spectacularly and virtually unnoticed while we look around for something else.

My plan, (that sound is god laughing) is to get him fed, and try to get him doing some kind of exercise on a daily basis. Then I am hoping to get him working on something with his mind, like the Autobiography Box. Even if I have to be the one who does all the writing and recording. I’m prepared to do that, I bought journals, disposable cameras, tapes for my minicassette, all that stuff, so I’m set!

I would love to have him in better shape for when Pat arrives in two weeks to help on the house. I know it would do him a lot of good to be strong enough to help with that, and also to be stronger when the family arrives in October.

So that’s the goal. Wish me luck.


Its later, I’m in Spokane sitting on the mezzanine at the Davenport Hotel, which was built in the early 1900’s by oh so swank Lucius Davenport, and which was at one time one of the country’s finest hotels. It is now on the historic register and has been fully restored.

When I was a kid, we would stay here when we would come into town for the weekend sometimes. I have remembered it as being the absolute height of elegance all these years, and when I was driving up this morning I decided to spend the night here. It is as spectacular if somewhat smaller than I remember. I buried myself neck deep in steaming hot water in my gigantic tub and am about to fall into my king sized bed for a deep sleep.
The drive today was a good one. I’ve been listening to Nick Hornby’s new novel, called…something along the lines of “at the top” or “the way down…” hmmm, listening you don’t see the title as much…anyway its about four people who meet on New Year’s Eve at the top of a building where they have all gone to jump off, and what befalls them over the next 90 days. Which is to say that it is a book about what keeps us alive. So for a good portion of the day I have had my head in this place where you drill down and drill down and drill down trying to find that something, that spark, only to discover its not just one thing, but a myriad of little things, a mosaic of minute pieces, each of them simple and stupendous at the same time, and together they make up that spark. And its not just one spark, but thousands of sparks. I’m tired and I’m babbling, but I’m lucky to have many many sparks, and so I’m finding my gratitude again.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday, August 26, 2005

I am pissed off in a kind of low grade fever sort of way, irritable and impatient. I just finished painting Michael’s condo with him, and mostly I didn’t snap at him except for few times. And mostly he didn’t snap at me except for a few times. It was like we traded places yesterday, and I got bitchy and he’s been extra nice for the past few days and that pisses me off even more because if he’s acting like a cunt than I feel totally justified in being one back.

I was on the phone with Mary about an hour ago. I was hearing her take on Tim’s decision to end radiation and return to Idaho. I guess I expected to get the full medical perspective and instead I got the same thing I’m feeling, which is I support his decision to do this, but I don’t support the universes decision to kill him. She more than any of us I suppose has fought the hardest, at least in the past few years. We all fought long and hard for a long hard time, and of course none of as much as Tim, who has spent the last 20 years in pain and illness.

Its so hard to let go of this, and to understand that its no longer anything that can be impacted by any of us. For the longest time, Tim has been the thing we have rallied around, he has drawn us together, we’ve traveled, cleaned up, fixed, paid, moved, mopped up, carried, rescued, all completely second naturedly. None of us has ever viewed this as sacrifice or hardship, it was jut one more thing to be done, like making the morning coffee or doing the laundry. Sometimes it was joyful, like a wedding or a celebration of health, but most of the time its been just normal.

And now I might be asked to serve one last time in this and I’m not sure I can do it. In the past it was always in service of his surviving, his recovering, his making it. This time it’s not, its just to ease him out.

How assuredly Mary and Pat talk about me doing this, as though its as natural as breathing, and how easily they say I’m the natural one to do it, and I don’t understand this, because I don’t feel remotely equipped. Its so easy for people who serve a function, Pat can sweep in for a week and not even really talk to Tim, he’ll just build something or wire something or plumb something and then go. Me, I just have to hang out and talk. And everyone tells me that’s important but it feels now, like it did way back at Hopkins, totally superfluous and futile.


I don’t know, I guess it makes sense, and I’m going up, but I can’t take being there for every day for the rest of his life as they suggest. I don’t have it in me, I really don’t. I wish it was something I could jump to but my own survival can’t handle it. And having said that I know that I will do whatever is necessary to ensure that he is taken care of.

I think that all of this comes around to the general concept that I have not gotten my brain around the fact that this is all coming down so fast. And the other part is that no one can really say that it is. Mary feels pretty certain that the new lumps are tumors, and that makes it kind of a sure thing in my book, but then again, she isn’t sure. If they aren’t, then who knows. And my mind keeps clinging to that idea, that somehow all of this is just another Cullinane mini-drama. All claws and fangs and horrifying weirdness before sunlight reveals a pile of clothing on the back of a chair, and that is where my mind keeps jumping to.

That all of this will be revealed to be nothing, at least for the next few years, and that I’ll travel to Idaho periodically and Tim and I will sit around and talk about music, and ride the fourwheelers up to 4032, and he’ll talk about how messed up Mom is and be grumpy and judgmental and he’ll give me little work projects which I’ll screw up and he’ll say “You fucked that up good.”

Maybe we’ll go golfing and he’ll get excited when I hit par, but dissolve into frustration when I botch up the next eight holes, and become even more frustrated that I don’t seem to care at all.

We’ll watch The Big Lebowski and he’ll laugh and replay his favorite parts, and Steve Thompson will come by and so will Carol, and we’ll all sit around and laugh and go outside in the cold and get wood for the fire, and