We think about mindfulness.
But, all too often, we get swept along by the unyielding rhythm of modern life, even in retirement, and it takes a major change of routine or a shock to the system to make us stop on our tracks.
I've had both in the past few weeks.
During a visit to Los Angeles to see my dear friend Mary and her husband John, whose disability due to his traumatic brain injury is stealing him away little by little every day, I saw how they savored his increasingly rare moments of lucidity to express their love and devotion. Those brief times each day were a rare treasure not to be missed as both felt their time together, the life they have shared for 26 years, slipping away.
A few days later, during a visit with my brother and his family, I realized just how much time seems to go in slow motion when it comes to building and refreshing relationships. This visit, I had some long and lovely conversations with Mike. I got to know my sister-in-law Amp better, appreciating not only the sweet, peaceful Thai Buddhist soul I've come to know, but also the feisty, fiercely loyal and courageous woman I'm in the process of discovering as I spend more time with her. And Maggie, my niece, is only two years old. There is so much I want to share with her. But it's a relationship that can't be rushed. The bond with this smart, passionate, edgy little girl needs time and gentle nurturing. We made progress this time around. The first night, she approached me, threw a book in my direction and vanished. The second night, she handed me a book and hung around to hear the story. The day after, she stood on my feet and stared into my face intently as I read to her. The last night, she wiggled onto my lap to show me stories on her iPad. Trust and comfort and love take time.
So does healing, as I've learned this week. I returned from L.A. with a cold/flu and fever. These symptoms evolved into a ferverish tooth and jaw ache over last weekend. By Sunday, I desperately made the first dental appointment I could for Monday. Monday morning, I got up, took my blood pressure medication and got into a hot shower -- unwittingly unleashing the perfect storm on my system as my blood pressure dropped precipitously and I passed out, with no warning, in the shower.
I came to with the water running over me and total dental havoc: My mouth had slammed into a wrap-around marble seat/ledge in the shower as I fell, knocking out one of my front teeth and seriously damaging the other three teeth front and center in my mouth. My lower jaw still throbbed with the raging infection.
I spent more than three hours in the dental chair Monday. What was left of the knocked out tooth was extracted, the three others filed down and a four-tooth bridge installed. For the infection, the dentist referred me out to an experienced oral surgeon an hour away -- who couldn't see me until Tuesday. So Tuesday I spent another two hours in oral surgery -- with the difficult removal of the lower molar, the scraping of my jawbone and a bone graft inserted. Now I'm lying low and taking big doses of antibiotics and taking my time to heal.
There are so many posts I want to write -- and many more blogs I love I want to catch up on.
But, for now, it's time for healing.
And, in my healing, I've come to appreciate anew the blessing of a true partner: my husband Bob who can take charge when I can't, pick me up and hold me tight, let me know that -- however miserable and in pain and exceedingly non-stoic I'm being -- I am dearly loved.
Healing and partnerships and losses and knowing oneself and others well and love itself -- all take time.