Science & Medicine

Waiting for Chris

Waiting for Chris


It is a strange time. A friend is dying tonight, last throes of his MPN journey. I feel it in my shoulders and my back. Sometimes my head.

It’s bad timing. Before I got the news, I was already a week into that fugue state that means an hour or so awake, two hours more or less sleeping, confused, clumsy. It happens periodically, usually ends after a week or two. I can’t even grieve properly without falling asleep to uneasy dreams.

Plus I’m eagerly waiting for Chris and Lesley, in from London on a tour of the East Coast. It’s a sharp point of light off in the distance. Next Saturday. I tell my cousin, an attractive and very practical jewelry designer.

“Why don’t you meet them in a restaurant,” she says, looking a little dubious.

“I’m looking forward to cooking, to hanging out at the house, sitting on the porch and talking,” I tell her.

It’s all pretty vague, except the menu — tandoori chicken, chopped salad and Spanish frittata.  But the image of Chris’ “Where in the world is Wally” striped  poloshirt or photos of him shussing on the slopes is mixed up with his relentless support of so many of us going through, recovering from SCT that the actuality is not at all clear. Plus he has a wicked sense of humor. We’ll figure it out.

“Well I hope you’re getting someone in to do the baseboards and cobwebs.”

This is a surprise. I’m not precisely sure what baseboards are but the general vicinity where the wall meets the floor does have some wood molding that is a bit scuffed. Also, I can’t imagine Chris has flown all the way from England and driven down the whole Blue Ridge Parkway just to check out my baseboards. (Cobwebs are news to me and I’ll have to check that out.)

But “Getting someone in?” She might as well have suggested I visit the Space Station and bring back a few moon rocks to welcome Chris to Asheville. I wouldn’t even know how to do that. Clearly my work is cut out for me, a great relief if it proves an alternative to bedsores and sitting shiva in advance of any need.  Tomorrow I’ll buy necessary cleaning supplies, then take a nap, get up and get to work.

Even to my ear, there’s something a little hollow sounding in that plan, unrealistic. All this past week I’ve been rubbing a bench, pouring teak oil on it, wiping it off, rubbing with fine sand paper and steel wool. At least three days. It has all the appearance and sound of work but truthfully the bench was fine – and not all that necessary – before this massage program started.  Between the bench, watching re-runs of The Office –UK and naps,  cooking and animal care I more or less had the day covered.

I could go to bed a little past midnight with the uneasy realization that I had done nothing worth waking up to do and settle in to the unsettled, broken sleep ahead.  But now I have baseboards and cobwebs.

When Chris arrives I plan to take him on a tour of my baseboards even before we open the first cold beers. And talk.





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