Who Would Have Thought

Who would have thought that being tired could be a symptom of something so sinister?  It seemed so normal, especially for someone who works as hard as my husband does.  Especially in Costa Rica where it’s so hot.

Who would have thought that the pain in his shoulder wasn’t a strained muscle or a pinched nerve?  Who would have thought that it was a reflection of things going wrong in an organ that can’t feel pain–his liver?

Who would have thought?

But then pain started under the right side of rib cage, and the tiredness grew into a constant sort of pallor and an uncharacteristic exhaustion.

Who would have thought that when that ultrasound showed something that the doctor would refer to as “metastasis” in my husband’s liver, I would be the one having to lie on the floor with my feet up because of the dizzy spell that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go?

Who would have thought, or even begun to guess, how many things were silently going wrong?  But blood tests don’t lie.

Who would have thought I would find myself sitting at my desk on a Thursday afternoon, refusing tears, buying plane tickets for Italy two days later?

Not me.

But that is exactly what happened.  As an Italian citizen, his medical care will be nearly free here, and let’s not compare the doctors in Milan with the ones in Liberia.

Who would have thought that it takes 10 days to get the results of a biopsy?

Who would have thought 10 days could take so long?  When you watch your husband become weaker by the day and all you can do is smile and try to breathe, it seems like 100 years.

Who would have thought I could put on my shoes in the morning, go outside for a run, and could run 7 kilometers before I was tired enough to stop?  Not me.  I don’t even like running.  Although I like it better than waiting.

I keep reminding myself of what I wrote a few months ago about being fearless vs being brave.  Right now I am being brave.  Because I am scared to death.  I’m afraid of what might happen.  I’m afraid of what might not happen.

Who would have thought that exactly two years after my husband and I came to Italy on vacation we would be back in the same city, staying with the same brother at the same time of year, but with for the purpose of saving his life?

A month ago, he was complaining about being tired.  He thought he had dengue.  Two months ago he had a sore shoulder.  Three months ago we were getting up at dawn to go surfing.

Who would have thought life could unravel this far in two weeks?  I guess, really, all it needs is a minute.

Albertina Talking to Jaguars

a poem for a girl who isn’t born yet about a woman who has passed on

Your bis bis abuela
Albertina
knew about the danger of
jaguars at the quebrada.
She remembered when the
mapmakers came to town and
tried to change its name to
something holy like
Santa Barbara down the road, or
San Lazaro further on.
She said she told them no.

Your mamá was
too little to listen to stories back
when Albertina’s mind
was clear, and then Albertina
started seeing angels.
She walked
barefoot to Santa Cruz with
comales on her head and
sold them each for one colon
to buy sugar and
coffee–
things she couldn’t grow or grind herself.
Then she walked home.

She knew the old stories
the old ways.
She had seven sons and
no husband to obey.
Me decía “mi nieta”
because she knew I belonged to her
even after she forgot my name, and
sat on the porch talking
to jaguars until
she turned one hundred.

Jetty Edge

We twist around to
look out the rear window
laughing until tears blind us
and I’m afraid you are
going to back off the edge
in the dark, that we will
tumble over the rocks into the
Pacific but I can’t stop
laughing.

I can see the headlines:
Stoned Americans Back Jeep Over Jetty
Edge, Directly Into Ocean.
I say, “Go slow,” and you sputter that
you’re going all of two miles
per hour but my God being
this close to you makes me
so dizzy I can’t see and my
hair tangles in what must be your
solar wind.

Bright white shapes move
behind us, a group of cows wandering
out onto the jetty to graze,
and you say, “What are those?
People?” and I laugh more because
you’re wasted and they are cows.
My sides hurt and I can’t talk.
But then they really are
other people walking to their cars,
people who got off the boat with us.

I say, “I thought they were cows,” and
then you have to stop the car because
you are laughing too hard and you
tell me I’m crazy which we both
already know.

I don’t say it, but I don’t
care if you drive over the rocks and
we drown together tonight.
Go ahead.
All day we sailed
on the boat with the sun
slathering our skin drinking
rum and everybody kept passing
the joints and singing along to Bob’s guitar.
I never even smoke and I
tried not to, but I would do
anything for you.
Try me, I would.

The Crimson Flag of Silence

I have news to share!  I had a different post planned for today, but it can wait.  

Six months ago I posted the story of how my friend Barbara Struncova disappeared.  The story contains some small errors, some speculation and an immense amount of research.  Whereas, technically, it must be considered fiction, it is a result of my profound and continuing effort to understand the truth.  The segments of the story, put together, have received thousands of reads—far beyond anything I ever imagined.  I can only understand this as the world answering back to me and to Barbara, “You have touched us.”

Many of you wrote back to me.  I heard from Barbara’s friends, past friends and acquaintances of “Jim,” and many who have no connection to the story at all but are moved by this tragedy.

It is therefore with great joy that I share with you this piece of public information:  “Jim”was arrested on May 28, 2015 in the airport in Denver, Colorado.  He is being held, as I write these words, on charges of passport theft and identity fraud.  There are no other charges at this time and it is not in the best interest of justice for me to speculate or further comment on anything that is not related to the existing charges.  But it is safe to hope and pray, and it is safe say that I am jubilant as his lies begin to unravel!  I feel that it is important for me to continue to call this individual “Jim” in this forum, as what I am suggesting he as done goes far beyond fraud.  If you would like to know his real name, your friend Google will be happy to provide that.

There a poem that I want to share on this happy occasion.  I wrote it months ago when this day was only a dream.  It is for all of who have reached out to me for the sake of Barbara.  Words are power.

 

Crimson Flag of Silence

We will raise for you
a monument of words.
We will build a tower
to the sky here
in this city of Babel
where all the voices
gather into one language
speaking your name,
Barbara.

We will not be
quelled.
We will pile word
upon word up
to the doorstep of God,
constructing for you a fortress
a mountain
an indestructible testament that we have
not imagined your life
or your death.

From its highest pinnacle we will
fly the crimson flag of
your silence.