Silver Storm

Hurricane Sandy

I don’t think anyone on the east coast had an uninterrupted sleep last night.

Yesterday was continual dusk as if the sun itself was hiding behind a grey umbrella leery to come out in such a daunting sky. All we could do was wait and hope we were prepared. The sky rattled and spit cold rain onto the pavement. It started slowly with drops so disparate that they seemed to evaporate before they could leave speckles on my jacket. It was ominously calm. An eerie way to end October.

Around four pm the rain began to thicken and the winds to swell. I had just come inside from a short walk, trying to get one last one in before the inevitable lockdown that was supposed to persist for the next few days. The sky deepened  to a murky charcoal and the air wheezed and shook the trees sending the last autumn leaves down into the yard.

We stayed in by our wood burning stove, fortunate to have warmth. I sat up worried about all of my friends and family in the New York City and New Jersey area who were being hit with massive gusts, whose apartments were flooding, who were without power and just holding on.

When I finally went up to bed the winds were whipping hard, rain pelting on the roof outside my window. I shut my eyes, covered my head and tried to will myself to sleep. It was an off and on rest, as if my mind were being operated by a switch that flipped with the most violent bursts of wind. During the worst of it, I felt my floor shaking beneath me. I kept my eyes closed the entire time trying to quiet my mind.

I awoke to a sky the color of molasses. The air held a lethargic haze as if it was in mourning.  There were several trees snapped and fallen, but that seemed to be the worst of it. The winds and rain had  subsided and the sun even hinted at coming out. We were very lucky here. We didn’t even lose power.

My heart goes out to the people who were hit with devastating force, the entire New York City and New Jersey area is in my thoughts today. I hope that the worst of it is over and that the damage will be quickly alleviated. My deepest sympathies to those who have lost a family member or friend due to Hurricane Sandy.



Blue Is For My Mother

My mother is the blue of a sun kissed sky after a passing storm.

A cooling blue to soothe a burn. To calm. To heal.

A feather pillow I often leaned upon.

In my childhood, my mother was almost never sick. She was steady in body and mind, a figure of constancy amid the chaos of the day to day. She kept everything straight. She cooked, made appointments, did the bills, and most of all, cared for my sister, father and I holding us together in times of crisis and celebrating us on our happiest occasions. She was a beam of energy, a perpetual player and a strong soul.

My mother went to William and Mary to study acting, so from a very young age I was encouraged to explore my creativity, to imagine and to play. My sister and I would dance around the house in mismatched costumes (we have an attic full of collected gowns, suits and other get-ups, along with boxes and boxes of wigs, gloves, hats, shoes; needless to say my sister and I were always disguised in some way) my mother watching all the while laughing and jumping along. She kept her youthfulness alive, swinging on shopping carts in the grocery store, singing as she hammered away at our clunky old piano and directing us in homemade mini movies where my sister and I would, unknowingly, embarrass ourselves in later years.

It was a real shock when she was called in on the first of September. She had seemed fine that morning, other than the continual tired spell that had been dragging her down slowly for months. For my mother fatigue was just a sign of getting older and I guess I overlooked it since my mom is not one to complain. Nothing could have prepared me for how serious things were about to turn.

The phone rang twice, my dad answered. His face froze and I could feel his body weaken from the inside out. He rushed up stairs shouting to my mother,

“Julie, you need to go to the hospital now.”

She was checking her email.

“Ok, just a second.”

“No,” My dad said, “Now. Your Dr. just called. She got your blood work. You are severely anemic and may need a transfusion.”

I was listening from the hall upstairs. I listen in a lot. It’s a skill I developed as a kid, I really honed my ability to seem like I just passed by and happened to hear something.

I burst into the upstairs office where my parents were. Confused and upset I just stood there as they began to get my Mom’s things together to go to the hospital.

I don’t remember what I said, if I said anything. I just remember feeling hollow, nervous and alone. I stayed at home with our new puppy waiting anxiously to hear any news. There has been a lot more waiting lately.

My mom spent the next four days in the hospital. A time of multiple transfusions, tests, retests, theories, pacing, new theories and finally an answer.

Last month my mom was diagnosed multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.

She rests more often now.

Blue is for my mother.