I Heard it on the Taconic
My doctor brushes a gloved fingertip across my naked stomach, and frowns.
“That needs to come off,” he says.
I glance down and see nothing but skin.
I don’t like him, this doctor. I like the scalpel that has suddenly appeared in his hand even less.
He leans on my chest to hold me still, pressing me into the hospital gurney. I try twisting out from under his weight, but he’s impossibly heavy.
The hospital sounds transform into the chimes of my alarm. The doctor’s weight is my pillow clutched to my chest. I am grateful for the sweet rescue of morning, but dreamstuff clings to me, full of sorrow and fear.
My boys have left for school. I make coffee, shower, pat the four-footers, and leave.
The Taconic parkway in New York is my route to work. I have heard lots of news on this roadway. Two and a half years ago, my oncologist had called to announce the return of my breast cancer as I drove up the Taconic.
A few weeks later – more news as I drive down the Taconic. “The cancer has metastasized to your liver.” Stage Four, no cure.
A stage four cancer diagnosis is like being bitten by a shark in bloody water; you know he’s coming back to finish you off, you just don’t know when.
Movement pulls my gaze to my left as I drive. A hawk flies at eye level, impossibly close. If I reached out my window I could touch him. His eyes and his brown, black, and white feathers are in sharp detail.
“Hi,” I say, half expecting an answer.
He veers off and away.
Once at work, I call my daughter in LA. I want to tell her about the hawk.
“Hi, Mom!” She says. “How you doing?” I smile, happy when she picks up.
“Well, I’m a little down, Honey. I don’t really have any friends.”
We are quiet for a moment, and then we break into laughter. We both know I have tons and tons of friends. Laughing together feels so good, and turns into more laughing.
“Oh, Mom, I love you.” The smile in her voice is better than a million dollars.
“I love you, too, Honey.”
I am a Yoga teacher. My class today is mat to mat yogis. Our classes are love fests. Open hips and hugs and lots of heartstrings. More laughter.
Driving home, I keep an eye out for my hawk friend. The late afternoon light is deep. Color refracts off of water particles in the air. Light bounces from ponds, reflected by iridescent trout scales, to river and back to air. I drive through platinum’s, oranges, blood reds and blues, like a child’s kaleidoscope. New York is often the most beautiful place in the world.
At home, my sons are techno engaged. Usually, we exchange the details of our day. Tonight, I have something to do, so I kiss their cheeks and let them be. My dogs bump their hellos into my legs, and steal kisses with soft tongues on my hands. I settle into my chair with my computer. My cat settles into her spot at my side. Her heavy weight on my arm makes laptop usage awkward, but protesting is pointless. She’s the boss.
I can see everything from my chair. I gaze from the warmth of our artist’s bungalow into the darkness of the porch and beyond. The lights across the Hudson are twinkling. I settle down with my computer, and write a story about my life that is full of kindness and miracles and love.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Blakeslee