Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The clouds have scurried back, shutting out the sunrise except for a spot of whiter white up over the mountains in the East. The thermometer outside my window tells me it is 39 degrees outside this morning. It is ten minutes after eight.

Its quiet in my little house this morning, I left my ipod up in the shed where Jim and I were working yesterday. There is just the clicking of the keys and the low buzzing of the refrigerator.

I have to drive to Spokane today to pick up Pat’s tools.

Yesterday was an interesting day.

After the news on Tuesday, we ambled through the morning, stumbling around each other like smoke stunned bees. Tim slept in, Suzanne stayed close to him, I set up the job site, hauling out the compressor, uncoiling extension cords.

My brother Tim is an artist with wood. He is a carpenter, and has built houses and done remodels all over the country. His interior finish jobs are legendary among the people he has worked with, and you can tell a Tim job the minute you walk in, by the unusual use of logs and found materials, and extraordinary cabinetry.

Yesterday I worked in his shop, and I wore his nail bags, and he lay on his bed and looked at me and said that he knew he wouldn’t ever wear them again. I felt like I might never take them off.

Jim arrived and we started work, and then the knots came loose a little, and we began to get limber again. Suzanne came outside and fed the birds, and made a hair appointment, and I cut the boards for the ceiling, and Suzanne made macaroni and cheese for lunch, and Jim worked on fixing the exterior wall that didn’t have a plumb square inch on it, and I sorted boards to length, and the sun shone brightly, and the boards I had cut went up onto the ceiling one by one and they were beautiful.

My Mom called from Tennessee, and I told her the news. We talked for awhile and I told her I would let her know what Tim and Suzanne decide on Friday about surgery. She asked if anyone was cooking for us. I said we were eating okay, but I know she was thinking how quickly she could get on a flight out here to make dinner.

Mary called in the afternoon. She and her partner had looked at Tim’s MRI, and talked with Doctor Ganz, the neurosurgeon in Cour D’Alene. She doesn’t think he should have the surgery. The cancer is wound through his spine, destroying it and destroying him so quickly that before he could recover from surgery, more of his spine would have collapsed. Removing the tumor could likely buy him no more than one more hospital stay, and no additional time here in the valley he loves.

“But what about him ending up paralyzed?”

“It could happen anyway, if he recovers from the surgery, and I’m not sure he could, by the time he did, another portion of his spine would most likely be ready to collapse and we’d be back where we are now.”

“Without the surgery, what are we looking at?”

“I don’t know. Weeks most likely.”

I was standing in the field in front of Tim and Suzanne’s, with sun shining brightly on me and the mountains towering above me and I heard the word “weeks” and I said it back to her with my voice breaking and I turned and I looked at 4032 where we are all supposed to gather for that picture next month, and I realized that we had just moved onto an express schedule.

Its so hard for Mary, because she feels the weight of this decision so acutely. As a doctor she knows the odds, as a sister she feels the need for extra time, as a doctor she understands the picture clearly, as a sister she hopes. We talked for about an hour and she decided to weight to talk to Tim and Sue, and I agreed to not talk about it with them until she called. She said she would call Margaret, and I said I would call Pat, and let them know they need to come faster than we thought.

Steve dropped by. Carol had just called him and he stood in the shop with me and we talked for awhile, and he was close to breaking down, and so he left and said he would come back. Carol dropped by with dinner, and stayed for a bit with Tim. Jim and I kept working and finished the ceiling.

Then we measured for the boards for the rest of the room, and Jim gave me a cut list for Friday when he will come back and we will finish up.

He went inside to talk to Tim and Sue and Carol for a bit, and I cleaned up.

I was sweeping up the sawdust and picking up the board ends in Tim’s shop, and then it all came home.

These tools will never feel his hands again. I don’t mean that to sound so Lifetime movie, but its true. He will never build again. He will never create a breathtaking room, or a exactingly clever jewelry box again. I don’t want to believe that, I don’t. I hold out for something, anything, any piece of miracle. But we are out of time.

Jim came out and we said goodbye and I turned away too quickly and he caught me by the shoulder and pulled me hard into his chest and I let go and bawled. I didn’t need to say anything and it was over as quickly as it started and he went home and I kept sweeping.

Later I lay on Tim’s bed with him and we watched Jaws. When he had to lie on his side I would narrate it for him.

“The shark is on the boat, and Robert Shaw is in his mouth. Oop, there goes the bite, oop, he’s in half now…”

We ate Carol’s pot roast and Mom made a peach pie, and I had that with ice cream and the day ended.

This isn’t a countdown. It is every day, as this day only. Every moment. Every second. Nothing taken for granted. Nothing overlooked.

I’m so grateful to be here.


At 6:20 PM, Blogger steph said...


I want to say, "Boy, this better be real 'cause I feel so heavy inside, and trying to block the emotions from coming out... I even had a tear come out, and I almost want to cry more to get rid of the pressure, but I don't want to because I don't even know you or Tim... "

But at the same time, I sure hope you're an aspiring writer and this is your attempt at a book 'cause it sure is good reading... and I'd rather believe Tim is a fictional character, not really suffering at all.

Well, the tears aren't falling but my eyes are awful wet. I'd say my heart is breaking for y'all, but I don't even know you, do I?

There it goes. Another one fell out of my eye.

At 8:26 PM, Blogger LauraBaltimore said...


We miss you guys and know that we are praying for all of you. I'm so happy Beth told me about your blog. I can keep up with Tim without bothering you.

You are a beautiful writer and capture the feelings perfectly.

I spoke to PL last night and hoped to say goodbye to Suzanne, but things appear to be crazy there and here for us in Baltimore. As much as we didn't want to leave we know that God wanted us here, so all we do is pray for Tim and all of you. My mom had to have emergency surgery this afternoon for her stroke on Saturday, but we were blessed with a great outcome. Of course before the surgery she asked about Tim.

It was so hard for us to leave, and if someone had given me a free pass I wanted to stay longer. I felt the same way you did, I would be okay if Tim left first but how could I walk out on him. I just wanted to soak up as much of him and you guys as I could. Enough to last a life time. This is a special place and time and as much as I want to recapture it, I can't.

Please keep in touch, PL has my e-mail. Love you guys, you are all very brave and very loved.


Post a Comment

<< Home