What Goes Around

I’m down for the count, if someone could just figure out what the count is. I’m on Day Eight of whatever-is-going-around. A friend told me another friend told her this stuff hangs on for twelve days. Great. The Twelve Days of Crudness.

“On the first day of Crudness, my true love brought to me, a carton of nose tissues!” On the second day, two bottles of cough syrup. Third day, three gallons of chicken soup. No, wait! Adding insult to injury, while I was slurping chicken soup an upper left molar cracked and crumbled. The dentist’s office asked if I was taking anything for the pain. The stupid tooth is the only part of my body that DOESN’T hurt, I answered. They’ll try to get me in before Christmas.

Whatever is bugging so many of us is apparently a multiplicity of infectiousness. I’m fully boosted against Covid and consistently test negative. I got my flu shot. Still I wheeze and sneeze. My cough sounds like a Washington State ferry signaling distress. I have no fever, yet no energy and even less motivation. Further assaulting my otherwise cheerful facade was a headline in the Washington Post: “How a viral siege is making some people sick for weeks, even months.”

The article lists all the stuff that’s going around: “Parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus, rhinovirus, adenovirus, influenza A and influenza B. Respiratory enterovirus and human metapneumovirus, too. And then, there’s the rebounding coronavirus …”

I’d been feeling particularly sorry for myself because this is the second time this year I’ve been flattened by an extreme version of what we used to call the “common cold.” But the article cites a CDC determination that normal adults can hit the mat two or three times a year and still be considered healthy overall.

Enough of my wheezy whining. For me this has been an uncomfortable inconvenience. For too many it’s deadly serious. Yesterday the daughter of a dear friend called to tell me her mom is under hospice care, deeply sedated, death imminent. She wanted me to know in advance so I could be “with” her mom in these final hours, even though I’m a hundred and fifty miles away.

Life on the edge of thin ice

In truth her mom is with me. She was a frequent visitor for many years, especially during the holidays, exuberant over being here by the river. With her in my heart, I’ve been watching the spectacle of life and drama of death that unfolds especially now with the river partially shielded under ice. 

Ducks and geese — those sometime swimmers and frequent flyers — land for a while, drift a bit, then lift off, first one or two at a time, finally an entire flock swooping skyward, the ducks’ wings beating frantically, geese honking their irritation (or maybe exasperation?), only to return again minutes or hours later. Their reasons for leaving or returning are known only to them.

Two river otters scamper across the ice before sliding into open water; wild turkeys step gingerly along the brink as if wondering why they’re there; a lone great blue heron stands regally, stretching its elegant neck. 

At one point, a Canada goose isolated itself on the large shelf of ice, settled down, and died. I was depressed, thinking I’d be distracted by the sight of its corpse for some time to come. Then a bald eagle arrived and made quick work of the cleanup. Nature’s own undertaking.

Life is brutal, and it’s beautiful. Pain amidst pleasure, loss after loss, yet ever flowing. Goodbye for now, my dear one. No one ever lived life more fully than you.

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