This morning held a sad but interesting contrast. My friend Val and I had plans to get together to watch a movie at her home today. As Val's plans kept changing, so my day shifted a little but my day is one of those mostly blissfully free days that can shapeshift at will. At 8:20am I got a text from Val saying that her dad (who is in hospital) had been taken into ICU and that she was heading straight to the hospital. He had gone into cardiac arrest, she later explained in another text, but "they brought him back" so now the family is just waiting to see how he fares. She's surrounded by family there so that, at least, is good.
When I looked outside, a starling was perched on my clothes horse. I still have no clothes line so drape wet clothes over a tri-fold wooden clothes horse Dad made for me years and years ago. I had done a late wash last night and left the clothes out overnight. This morning, on one of the lower rails, a starling perched, pecked then side-shuffled, picking bugs off my clothes!
Peck, side-shuffle, peck, side-shuffle.
It must have been a good night for bugs as the starlings had also cleaned my gutter out by pecking at bugs. The back deck was splattered with dead wet leaves and sticks.
But my thoughts were mostly with Val as I prepared breakfast and I thought of Barb, a college friend, who lost her sister. I've lost touch with Barb over the years but I should try to find her. Like Val, she was a shy friend, lovely and loyal. I remember that today is Barb's birthday. The summer that Barb's sister died, we repeatedly went to the movies together. Always her choice, always Raiders of the Lost Ark. That became her coping mechanism.
The familiarity of the movie, a comfort. The action, a distraction.
When Mam died, I took to watching movie after movie, preferably a good drama that I, too, could lose myself in. When another friend discovered that her boys (young men the same age as Dane in their mid to late 20s) both had heart problems, she coped by watching foreign movies, ones with subtitles. She said they had to have subtitles as she seemed to crave the extra attention needed to read them.
How do you comfort yourself? What are your coping mechanisms? Maybe they'll vary depending on what you're dealing with. Another thing I did when Mam first got sick was to reread a book I'd helped edit. Knowing what to expect, knowing the storyline, basking in the familiar, comforted me.
Following is a poem I wrote several years ago about Barb and I and our summer of watching Raiders. I wonder how she feels about the movie now. If she can bear to watch it. As a side note, trying to find this poem was interesting as I lost years of my work to a virus and my only access now to that work is through emails where I had sent my work out to my writing groups. So I had to plow through tens of emails, downloading lost poems to find this one. Doubtless I would still be doing that had Rob not come home and helped. But to recover and rediscover those poems felt satisfying on a day tinged with possible loss.
We watched the same movie seven times that summer:
Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Barb’s choice, not mine.
Her eldest sister had died early spring,
not yet thirty years old,
shoveling snow in northern B.C.
Her other sister, on a cruise at the time,
was told not to come home.
So Barb called me often: “Want to see a show?”
Stifling house, dense air, heavy drapes,
sad eyes, muffled sobs, ghostly wails:
I drove my car with the windows down.
Lost in a world of rolling rocks, whips, snakes
and thunderous sound,
buttered popcorn and Harrison Ford’s lop-sided smile.
I cringed at the skeletons,
envisioned Barb’s sister cold, rotting,
her two babies growing up, playing tag around the tombstone.
I cast sideways glances at Barb,
but her eyes shone only with excitement
when good conquered evil in the end.
After, over ice cream,
she trembled with rage, wearing her dead sister’s earrings.
“They never told me she had a weak heart!”
She sighed in her driveway: dark trees, dark house, dark heart.
“Let’s get together again soon,” I said.
Her answer: “Sure. Want to see a show?”
Healing thoughts to Val's dad, Val and her family. Loving thoughts to you with thanks for reading. Hold your loved ones close.
Welcome! I'm Sue Blott: a writer of all things, a poet at heart, mom, wife, daughter, step-mom, grandma, tea drinker, tai chi-er, mystic, artist, dreamer...and now a blogger! This is my world.