Remembering to breathe
The first alarm goes off at 5 a.m. I look through the kitchen into the hallway. I don’t see a light, so Janice is probably sleeping. That’s good, because once she’s awake, my time is hers.
I take my watch/alarm clock and water bottle into my conference room and close the door. I arrange myself and sit silently and still, lately with a light blanket over my head against the chill from the open window. Then I give my attention to my breath, concentrating on the sensations in and near my nostrils and philtrum. I notice many thoughts appearing in my consciousness and fading away. Each time, a thought shows up and slides away, and it’s back to my nostrils for me, over and over for an hour, at the end of which I usually feel calm and grounded, ready to chop more wood and carry more water. Sometimes I sit longer, until Janice rings the bell.
When I look in the bedroom, her eyes are open, so she’s awake. Her drug day starts now with a liquid and a pill for sure, and up to two or three other things, depending on how she’s feeling, awful or worse.
First thing, Janice will probably want something to drink, usually watery fruit juice or Reed’s ginger ale or an alkalinizing concoction we make, and she probably needs shifting in the bed, our bed. She can’t turn over on her own anymore. Eventually she shuffles along to the bathroom, sometimes the living room, last week as far as the front porch.
She has accepted using a walker, which, incidentally, I once decided was unfair help and that when my time came I would tell whomever was nearby to go on without me, leave me here by the side of this old road (maybe old Humboldt), for I shall ne’er consent to use such a device. Hah. I’ve read that some Americans thought bicycles were tools of the devil when bicycles were new, being thoroughly unnatural and mechanical and all. Now I think walkers are mighty useful, and I’m grateful for them.
I’ve got four or five reminders set on my phone to tell me when she’s due for more drugs. To discourage barging in, I use a website to help coordinate people who help us in various ways, and I look for chances to make a run to the co-op for provisions. When Janice takes a nap, I wash dishes and towels. Now and then, I take a shower. The first alarm goes off at 5 a.m.