I'm sitting with Nancy tonight, along with Jim and Kathy (her brother and sister-in-law), right after our 7pm prayer time. That little bit of structure has really pulled us together...I cannot imagine spending time praying with them under other circumstances :-) Nancy's sister was here earlier, and will be back after dinner. Several friends came and sat with her today, another is coming for the night. We seem to be nicely filling the schedule up with folks to sit with Nancy.
Today was my first day back at work since December 5th, so I know less about Nancy's day than usual. All I can say is that she was apparently quite alert and engaged this morning, napped more this afternoon, and seems quiet and thoughtful and present to me since I got here a few hours ago. Tomorrow a friend and our buddhist chaplain are coming with lip reading teams, and I'm hoping she will again have an alert morning, so she can converse, and express and request whatever she needs.
My side of the day was a little surreal. I'm happy to be doing something technical and professional and impersonal on the computer, a welcome change from the intense emotional roller coaster of the last week. But I'm also tracking how it's separating me a bit from Nancy and her process and experience. This is neither good nor bad, just an observation. It did take a few minutes of conscious effort for me to soften and get present when I got to the hospital.
The other surreal part is that my co-workers are generally aware of what has been happening, and a half-dozen of them are getting these updates. The ones who know are being very spacious and supportive, and the ones who don't ask me, of course, how my wife is doing. How in the world can I answer? In some cases, I'll tell them she isn't doing well, show a little tiny bit of the huge well of emotion inside, and they find their warmth and capacity to be with my pain. In other cases, I'll just evade the question. One kind-hearted woman simply told me that she'd heard that my wife was ill, and hoped that she gets better soon. I nodded and smiled, and managed to contain the lump that cheerfully reappears in my throat every chance it gets.
Speaking of the lump, my constant companion, a simple walk today was very emotional. It was crisp, autumn weather, breezy, with red maple leaves falling. After all my time in the hospital, I feel like I've been on retreat, and the beauty of the day was delightful. Then I remembered that Nancy will probably never experience this again, and the lump is there. I nearly started sobbing out on the streets of San Bruno, just walking to the market to get a sandwich.
So there's divergence between Nancy and I, and between the reality I walk through and the one I experience inside. What is real? I've never been so painfully aware of how subjective our experience is, how reality is a state of mind. And I truly wonder what it's like in there, where Nancy is living. Perhaps with the conversations tomorrow, we will know more.