Friday, May 29, 2020

More Than a Number

Thought for the day:  Time is but a stream I go a-fishin' in.  I drink at it, but while I drink, I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is.  Its thin current slips away, but eternity remains. [Henry David Thoreau]

I didn't just want to go fishing in it; I wanted to stand in it. I wanted to feel the waters of time swirl around my feet, to be made poignantly aware once again of its dual nature of fleeting and eternal. I wanted to hear the haunting call of the seagulls, and breathe in the distinctive briny scent of the ocean. And five years ago...when Smarticus took this picture of me at Myrtle Beach... he and and our friends Kati and Cliff allowed me to do just that. Even though none of them share my passion for the ocean, they indulged me by granting me some time to stand in the surf and replenish my soul. I appreciated it more than I could say. Having them do that for me was humbling and made me feel cared for.

Recently, while struggling to keep my footing in a surf of swirling emotions, I momentarily felt as alone as I look in that photo. As a number of you already know, Smarticus... AKA Mike... my Number One and only... went into the hospital last week. Watching that ambulance take him away and knowing that because of coronavirus safety precautions, we can't see each other while he's there, was as painful as a kick in  in the solar plexus. With a steel-toed pointy boot. But thankfully, that devastating feeling of being totally alone has passed.

Our kids and friends circled the wagons, reminding me that I'm not alone at all... and that circle includes you guys. I'm humbled by your expressions of concern, and I appreciate your outreach more than I can say. Thank you.

We can... and do... talk on the phone multiple times a day.  He's been getting treatments to ease his pain and make him more comfortable, and he'll be transferred to an acute physical therapy place today, where the hope is to get him back on his feet again so he can come home. Believe me, if anybody can accomplish that, he can. Then we'll be ready to tackle whatever comes next. For more than 51 years, I've leaned on him, and now it's his turn. He can relax and lean on me now, and much to my surprise, I've discovered that I'm more than strong enough to hold us both up. We've got this, and we're still laughing together... even if it's only over the phone for now.

I'd planned to post the following video last Friday for Memorial Day, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans. But ya know what? It isn't too late to post it. I'm one of those strange folks who still thinks of Memorial Day as falling on May 30, as opposed to the last Monday of the month, so as far as I'm concerned, this post is right on time.

Yesterday's newspaper said we've now surpassed 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus here in the U.S. It's hard to wrap our minds around such a big number, isn't it? Hard to imagine such a profound loss. It's as difficult to assimilate the number of global deaths from this virus as it is to grasp the huge numbers representing the men and women who've died during wartime. Stark heartless numbers tend to dehumanize the reality of each of those individual deaths. In 2013, British artists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss organized an amazing artistic endeavor called The Fallen that poignantly depicts the reality of the 9000 who lost their lives on the beaches of Normandy:


To those who died, honor and eternal rest; to those still in bondage, remembrance and hope; to those who returned, gratitude and peace. [engraved on the Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial]

[Yes, that's my hubby in the header pic... taken when he was a grunt in Vietnam. He's writing me a letter...]

       Again, thank you all. Your caring truly lifted me up. And psssst... keep smiling. I am.

                              Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


59 comments:

  1. Oh heck, Susan, my heart goes out to both of you. I hope Mike gets back on his feet and pulls through this quickly. This pandemic is so cruel keeping you apart at a time when you need to support each other.

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    1. Thanks, Ian. Countless people... again with the staggering numbers... are being kept apart all over the world because of this bloody pandemic. Forced separation is cruel and horrifying, but for now, I guess it's our new reality.

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  2. Stay grounded, keep smiling, you are so strong and will get through this. All the best to you and Smarticus, hugs, Valerie

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    1. Yes, ma'am. I'm trying. (Yeah, I know... there is no "try"... there is only "do.") Thanks. Hugs back atcha.

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  3. Yes, Susan - the essence of time is indeed both fleeting and eternal: fleeting in the fragments of our rushing days...and eternal in the sacred shelter of our memories.

    Your poignant post has touched me deeply, because I can strongly identify with your feelings - and I have gone through similar agonies numerous times. You're fortunate (blessed) to have the support of relatives and friends. I have often gone through impossibly difficult times alone.
    The greatest solace - I suppose - is that the darkest hours always eventually reveal how much inner strength we have.

    I love the photo of you indulging in the great comfort of the ocean. When I lived by the ocean in California, the water was where I always went to find peace and rejuvenate. Sometimes I sit on the deserted pier until dawn - just watching the waves...and thinking....

    I'm rambling - which is one of my (annoying?) trademarks.
    Take care and stay strong. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your husband.

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    1. Please excuse any typos. I always notice them AFTER I post my comments...

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    2. I'm glad, but not surprised, that you can relate, but it's horrifying that you've had to face anything like this by yourself. No, let me rephrase that. You didn't HAVE to... you kinda CHOSE to. Maybe it's our "Sag" personality, but it's extremely difficult for me to ask anyone for help or to "impose" on anyone. You, too? It's easier to shelter inside of the misery than it is to let anyone else in to ease the burden. Trust me... all you have to do is reach out, and you'd be surprised how many people are there to support you. Including a bunch of bloggers. Including me. End of rant. Take care of yourself, cowboy.

      YES! I could spend an entire day wallowing in the comfort of the ocean. It's like a charging station for my inner battery. (Sheesh. How corny can I get?)

      Not annoying at all. And typos? What typos? I don't see no stinkin' typos...

      Thanks, Jon.

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    3. "Typo"-
      I meant to say "sometimes I WOULD sit on the deserted pier until dawn"

      You're absolutely right. I've always had an extremely difficult time asking for help or support. And whenever things are going badly, I immediately clam up and shut down. My fierce selfishness won't allow me to share my misery......although I love to unleash it in my writing.

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    4. You've gotta stop doing that, ya know. Clamming up and shutting down just makes matters worse, and oftentimes the best gift you can give another person is to simply let them in... let them grab your hand and pull your proverbial keister up off the floor. My bet is your cousin Nancy, for one, would be thrilled if you called on her when you need a hand. Or if you simply want to vent... or chat. And you and I both know it has nothing to do with selfishness... or with us being Sags. It's part of our fathers' legacies. They made us feel unworthy, but they were both WRONG.

      That being said, thank God for your writing. Better to let some of the pain out that way than to keep it all bottled up inside. But if you don't want to "bother" Nancy, there are many bloggers who'd do whatever they can to share your load. We're only an email away.

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  4. I am holding you and yours in my heart. And will continue to do so.
    And of course you are smiling.
    I have discovered (and not the easy way) that if I HAVE to, I can do anything. And I am sure the same is true of you.
    It is one (but only one) of the reasons you have a home in so many of our hearts.

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    1. Thank you, Sue. I can feel it. It's as though I were ensconced in a protective cocoon of caring, and the feeling is both humbling and empowering.

      Yes, I'm still smiling and cracking jokes. Our older son told me to "stop being so damned optimistic," and I think it's because he thought I was putting on a facade to help him deal with things, but I'm not. This is who I am, and I'm not gonna change now. Once a pathological optimist, always a pathological optimist. My husband deserves the real me, not some boohooing train wreck.

      Again, thank you. Your words touched my heart.

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  5. The end of that video with all of those bodies - it is hard to imagine nine thousand gone in one day.
    You aren't alone! Just keep that great wit about you and know your husband will be home soon.

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    1. You're right. That art project was so effective at depicting the image of 9000 bodies, it's absolutely heart-wrenching.

      Thanks. Yes, it's humbling to realize how many people have my back, and I feel God's presence more now than I ever have before. I'm definitely not alone.

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  6. Oh my - hang in there my friend. Sending big hug from TX and wishing your husband the best of treatments. I'm sure they are working hard for him and you. Words...they are not enough, but it's all we have here. Take care.

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    1. Thanks. I'm hanging. :)

      Words are more than enough when they're as heartfelt as I know yours are.

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  7. I was so relieved to see your post today, Susan! My thoughts and prayers have been with you both all week and will continue as you go through this trying time. Knowing you are still smiling reminds me to smile, to smile more. And to go to the beach again soon. Take care!

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    1. Thanks. I appreciate it. Yes! Definitely smile more... and yes! go to the beach! Take a nice deep breath of that ocean air for me. :)

      You take care, too. Have a super weekend.

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  8. Physical strength has been man’s role but nothing can compare to the strength of a woman in dealing with all that life hands us. We might shed more tears, but that is not a weakness, that is an emotional release so we can carry on and hold up others.

    Dear Susan, I only know you through Blogger and your books, but I know what a terrific, strong lady you are and what a good man you have had to share your life. That picture of him writing you a letter from Nam is precious. You are both in my thoughts often and I hope that these treatments can ease Mike’s pain.

    Bobby Darin’s rendition of Smile is beautiful and perfect.


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    1. Thank you. Though we're so far apart and have never met in person, I can FEEL your caring. Really. It may seem odd to feel such a deep connection, but I do. Like you've said before, I wish we were neighbors, and I have no doubt that we'd get along famously.

      Yes! Isn't that Bobby Darin rendition awesome? I was gonna post Nat King Cole's original version, but something about Bobby's resonated with me more. :)

      Have a wonderful weekend, dear lady.

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  9. Susan, I"m so sorry to learn of this latest hiccup in Smarticus' recovery! Please, count me in his pep rally!
    Well, it didn't even make the 2-minute mark of this video before my waterworks began. The Bobby Darin close is a perfect antidote. Yep. Like you, I still think of Memorial Day as the end of May.

    Oh, before I forget! It's been years since I stood in the surf, but the ocean has always captivated me. I read (and re-read!) your first paragraph, inhaling your words … and smiled!

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    1. Thanks. I appreciate it, and there's LOTS of seats available for our pep rally... no social distancing required. :)

      That video is something else, isn't it? Reading about D-Day isn't nearly as effective and memorable as actually seeing the beach covered with all of those images and then seeing them get washed away.

      I'm glad thinking about the ocean made you smile. Great minds and hearts think alike, eh?

      Keep on smiling! Have a super weekend.

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  10. Oh, Susan, I am offering up a big prayer for you and your husband right now. You ARE strong. YOU will get through this and have your hubby by your side again...I look forward to reading your post telling us so.

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    1. Thanks, Liza. More than anyone, you know exactly what we're going through. I hope you are doing well, dear lady. I've been thinking about you.

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  11. Healing Energies sent your way for your Beloved and for yourself to have every bit of strength and courage you need during this most difficult journey. I wanted to come and thank you for the Blog Visit. Your Post was so poignant, yet encouraging, a rare combination of expressing the spectrum of hardship weathered with Grace and Faith. I agree that the numbers dehumanize the individual loss, the staggering numbers tend to numb the senses and make it difficult to process. Every one lost has numerous others that will now suffer that void for the rest of their lives. Virtual Hugs and I'm glad your inner circle is so supportive and that you are still able to laugh with your Beloved thru your challenges.

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    1. Thank you for your good wishes. Yes, the big numbers tend to numb us to the people behind those numbers, but the only way to have real understanding and true empathy is to remember the individuals behind the numbers and to consider the ripple effects of each loss.

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  12. The beach has always been my favorite place, not necessarily the ocean, but watching the waves go in and out is so very relaxing. I love the warmth of the sand and putting beach towel down and laying on it soaking up the warmth. AT a time when we need hugs and holding one another, they are keep people a part. You just have to remember it's best to do now so that you'll have a future together later on. Hang in there and know you are both in my thoughts and prayers. Love and hugs, 'ma'

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    1. Thanks. We're definitely hanging in there, and I truly appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers. Love and hugs back atcha.

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  13. Dear Susan, my thoughts are with you and Mike but my Frontier Internet service has been sporadic and sketchy. It's obviously on right now, but goes in and out on its own. Our best wishes will find their way to you despite Frontier's problems --I got Norma helping me send them psychically. --Love, Geo.& Norma.

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    1. Thanks, Geo. I appreciate it. Your internet service may be sporadic, but your support and caring have been steady. Thank you both.

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  14. You ROCK! What a lovely tribute to Memorial Day and all the fallen in War and now because of this virus. You never cease to amaze me with your caring and giving positive spirit! With you in his corner, Mike has no choice but to get well and come home hope to you! I love you more every day. Your spirit, your love, YOU are one amazing woman!

    That picture of Mike, priceless. Thanks for sharing your love story!

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    1. Thanks, sweetie. It's nice to have you in my corner. :)

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  15. There are several friends I think about every morning You and Smarticus are on my wish list. That photo of Smarticus is wonderful.
    Monsoons started today and it was only 107 today ! Yea Me !
    cheers, your Tucson friend, parsnip

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    1. Wow, how wonderful it is to be in your thoughts every day. Thank you.

      Yipes. "Only" 107. You're made of sturdier stuff than I am. I can't hack temperatures that hot. (Yeah, I know... it's a "dry" heat. But I don't care who ya are... that's still HOT!) I'm sending cooler thoughts your way.

      Cheers back atcha from your Atlanta gal. Have a super weekend.

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  16. Smarticus is back in hospital?? How did I miss that? Now I'm all teary-eyed. I hope he improves quickly and is home again soon. I'm so glad you have friends and family to circle the wagons and watch over you.
    I'd love to be standing at the water's edge too, feeling the ebb and flow of the tide. It's too cold here for that, but I can still walk on the sand if I rug up like an Eskimo and catch a couple of busses to get there. My first husband was a grunt in Vietnam too, wonder if they were there at the same time. 1968-69?

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    1. Actually, this is the first time he's been an inpatient since his cancer diagnosis. We've been getting all of his treatments up 'til now as an outpatient, so we're in a whole new territory here. (And we don't like it!)

      I'd love to be standing in the surf now, too. Or lying in it, letting the water rush over my body. Maybe some day.

      Mike was in Nam in '69-'70, and those experiences have haunted him ever since, as I'm sure they have your ex. Hard to be a grunt and not undergo dramatic changes to one's personality and outlook.

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  17. Susan this is a beautiful love story. And it’s sure to have a happy ending. It must be excruciating to be parted when you need each other close. But so glad you’re surrounded by those who love you.

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    1. Thanks, Denise, but I'm afraid we're going to have to wait until our next life to get our happy ending. For now, we're doing our best to cope and squeeze as much happy into whatever time we have left. You're right. This forced separation is horrid, but we're hanging in there.

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  18. Dear Susan - gosh I do hope Smarticus (can only think of him as Smarticus!) is still improving and will be out, so you can be together once again soon - I know how much you mean to each other. It's a beautiful post to him and to your love ... while so pleased to read family and friends are rallying round for you both. The blog certainly does help ...

    The tide - yes ... it will always be there - but at times essential it wraps us up ... love the photo of you - as too your header image ... my thoughts.

    I hadn't picked up the video - but I see it was September 2019 and they want to do something for International Day of Peace this year ... I'll be keeping an eye open. Their ephemeral art work was very apposite for your post on Memorial Day 30th May ... thank you and enjoy those phone calls ... filled with happy thoughts - from me too - Hilary

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    1. Hi-ya, Hilary. Thanks. I hope so, too. It'd mean the world to get him back home again.

      That art project blew me away. Very heartfelt and meaningful, and I'm sure whatever they do in celebration of Peace will be equally stunning.

      Happy thoughts back atcha.

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  19. That stinks that there was a setback. Hopefully he is on the mend and will be home soon.

    We only know what we can truly achieve when put to the test. Strength sure comes to the forefront.

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    1. You're right. You never know how strong something is until you put it to the test. Or as Eleanor Roosevelt put it, "You don't know how strong a tea bag is until you put it in hot water.)

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  20. You doubted your strength?! I didn't, dear lady. Glad you have family and friends on hand though xxx

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  21. We are nothing more than a number, friend Sue unless we respectfully raise our voice to the appropriate level in order to be heard. Much love. c.

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    1. Perhaps we're little more than a number to the powers that be, but that just makes it all that much more important for us to always see each other as people. People who matter.

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    2. ... tears … agreed, friend Sue … sending good thoughts to your husband and you … 1700 hours sharp … every day … Much love, c.

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    3. Thank you. You're a real sweetheart. I hope you're doing okay. Take care.

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  22. I'll keep you and Mike in my prayers. Hope he'll be okay!

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  23. Hang in there! Keeping you and Mike in my prayers. Hugs ♥

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  24. Thinking of you and hoping your husband gets treatment that helps ease the pain. Not being able to visit him makes it all the harder. Remember to take care of yourself too. Hugs to you, my friend.

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  25. Oceans of caring are flowing your way. Today and every day.

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  26. We are nothing more than a number, friend Sue unless we respectfully raise our voice to the appropriate level in order to be heard. Much love. c.
    Mega888
    SaGaming

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  27. I'm so sorry to hear. I'm glad you're not alone. Sending big hugs across the water.

    Greetings from London.

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  28. Still thinking of y'all … still praying. Air hugs!

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  29. Thinking of you both. Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring continue to flow your way.

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  30. Still keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers. Take care!

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  31. Thanx 4 stopping by, friend Sue. Still and always thinking of you and husband every day 1700 hrs sharp. Smiling 4 u and crying 4 u. Much love, cat.

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  32. Thinking of you and yours. With love.

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