Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Lesson From Hanging out with Zoe

The scent of an excellent Italian red sauce wanders through the house.  Meatballs are simmering in the sauce.  Water for linguine is trying to boil.  And I am about to listen to The PBS News Hour.

I love when the scent of a good meal permeates the atmosphere of the house.  When people walk in & are either immediately hungry or ask what I am cooking.

It is the Wednesday after another weekend of hosting my sister Janet’s dog Zoe.

Zoe is a rescue dog, a female Cairn terrier.  She has proven herself a stress free & welcome guest.

We go on walks together & she always finds her way into a space next to me to sleep.

Zoe is not a talker like my beloved wire haired dachshund mix Eli.  She does not bark when she needs to go outside. 

In her defense, Zoe is accustomed to a doggie door.  Accustomed to wandering in her territory at will.  As are most of us.

On her first visit with us, I let Zoe have free reign in our back yard because Eli never got out.  I was convinced there were no exits from which Zoe could escape.

I was wrong.  She found an exit – I was in a panic.  Zoe was a guest for less than two hours & I lost her. 

I was an irresponsible dog sitter.  I failed my sister’s trust.

Fifteen minutes later, Zoe returned – traipsing up my neighbor Juta’s sidewalk as I asked if Juta had seen her. 

Looking as if she had just been out for a stroll, Zoe came to me when I called her name.  And I explained to her she no longer had free reign.

The very first time I knew I was missing Zoe’s signals on when she wanted to go outside to take care of business, she left a very small turd by the back door.  Not the mother lode, just a wee bit.

I knew I was still missing the signals when Zoe gave up subtle hints & left all her lode by the back door.

So I observed & finally understood that Zoe staring at the back door meant she needed to go outside.

I have been reminded by Zoe, a quiet little being, how essential it is to listen & observe.

Sometimes it is not enough or efficient to wait for verbal requests.

Unless you are willing to clean up the shitty aftermath.

Meanwhile, I have created the moistest, most tender meatballs of my forty years of cooking.  Thank you, Mario Batali.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Jaki Jean on Text & Making Muffins with Mimi

This morning, as I was creating Jean’s breakfast, I realized why I like to cook.  In cooking, as in writing, I create a text to be consumed & hopefully, savored.  Appreciated & discussed.  For Jean this morning, I created a mushroom omelet, a side of mango & a side of hash browns.

During our last soiree in the hospital, Jean informed me that there were only two good uses for white potatoes – French fries & hash browns.  She later amended that to include baked white potatoes.

My breakfast this morning consisted of muffins, inspired by my cousin Laura’s bright & articulate grandson, Thomas. 

During a recent visit with my cousin Laura & her sisters, I had the joy & wonder of meeting their children & grandchildren. 

Laura’s daughter Jennifer, who lives in Maryland with her Navy husband, was in town for an extended stay with her parents, who are called Mimi & Papa by their grand babies.

So, since I was camped out at Laura & her husband Al’s home, I spent time during my visit with Rachel, Thomas & Cecilia.

Thomas wanted muffins.  The first time he asked for Mimi to make muffins, she told him that they would make them tomorrow.  

When tomorrow came, Rachel & Thomas came downstairs in the morning & the first thing Thomas asked was:

Mimi, can we make muffins?

My cousin Laura gathered all the ingredients for muffins – sans the walnuts she usually uses.  She discussed sliced almonds & gave some to Thomas to taste.  With Thomas’ approval, almonds went into the muffins.

As I watched Laura make the muffins, Thomas on a stool to help, I realized she was creating more than food to nourish us.  She was creating a text, a memory.

Making muffins with Mimi.

When I returned to Houston, after a delay ( a whole Other story ), I decided to make Mimi’s muffins. 

But my Internet went down & was reduced to consult a cookbook.  I could have looked up the recipe Laura uses & tweaks on my phone, but I am always at my best returning to what I know & love & understand. 

I returned to a book.

So I made muffins, with walnuts & dried cranberries, tweaking the recipe, drawing threads from a braid of recipe texts & making it my own.

With Thomas’s voice echoing, “Mimi, can we make muffins?”

It was an amazing visit, seeing my favorite cousins – Laura & Vicki & Suzanne & Jenny.

But I think that one of the best parts was watching Mimi weave a text & create  a memory.  

That, & Laura’s four year old granddaughter Rachel addressing me as Jaki Jean.

Houston poet & Texas Poet Laureate Vassar Miller wrote about naming.  That we love what we name, we name what we love.

Rachel reminded me that Jack & Jean named me after each another, out of love for one another & for their first born.

Thomas & Mimi reminded me everything we do with & for one another is part of weaving a text & memory.  Part of being connected & sharing.

Baby Cecilia reminded of the wonder of a smile.

Fine reminders.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Jaki Jean on That Flag

In the aftermath of Charleston, when I began thinking about how I feel about a state choosing to fly the Confederate flag, I read a post on Facebook by my friend Rachel Halperin Plotkin.  About that flag. Then I entered into a discussion initiated by Cate Poe about what to call the Charleston massacre.  And another discussion initiated by David C. Unger.   About that flag.

But it was Rachel’s post about that flag that first sent me to the keyboard.

To echo the sentiment of millions of sane moral people across this country - and the planet- the notion that the Confederate Flag is a symbol of a "heritage" to be honored and remembered couldn't be a more disingenuous claim - and let's all together, however many times it takes , call bullshit on it.
Speaking as someone who indeed comes from a line of Confederates And yes - slave owners - I can personally attest to the fact that there is absolutely nothing about the conduct and bigotry of this line of my ancestors that I am "proud "of or want to honor . Quite the contrary - I feel shame for it.

Since when does family or cultural pride 
root in the heinous conduct and beliefs of living relatives or ancestors long buried?
Do you imagine that these same Confederate flag waivers would respect a German person flying a Nazi flag based on pride in their "cultural heritage "??
Or buy the claim of the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of Nazi soldiers and party members that to fly a swastika on their car or over a government building was based on the idea that their great grandfathers were "proud and brave members of a noble army fighting to protect their family and their homeland" ???
I don't think so.
Did the Confederate South slaughter millions of people based on their religion and put them on trains like cattle to their death at a concentration camp? No.
They kidnapped ,bought and sold millions of human beings as animals - packed them into transatlantic ships - then sold them on an auction block -separated families -children from their mothers - and then sent them to slave camp plantations - where they were tortured and exploited and inflicted unspeakable ,suffering degradation and death . These were Evils perpetrated on GENERATIONS - millions of human beings based on the color of their skin . Then they Fought a WAR to PROTECT their RIGHT to do so - rather than give it up.
A difference ??
No sane moral person of even the most shallow of consciences would find a distinction.
SHAME on the Americans in this Country who remain committed to the falsehood that flying the Confederate flag is about the "celebration of a proud heritage."
and SHAME SHAME on the Republican Party - their propaganda spewing news outlets and their clown car of candidates who can barely choke out the word racism - much less admit to the evils perpetrated by the Confederacy -and adding insult to injury who actually claim to take pride in it.

So this is my response to Rachel’s post . . .

Rach, while I have no doubt that the soldiers who fought on the side of the Confederacy (including some of my ancestors) believed they were involved in a noble cause to preserve a way of life & assert states’ rights, the fact is that they were defending a way of life that involved slaves.  Slaves as the producers of the wealth their owners enjoyed.  Slaves who reaped none of the benefits of their labor.  Who did not choose their own spouses.  Who could not protect their women or their children or their honor.  Who were bought & sold & traded as if they were a commodity.

Wait, slaves – human beings – were a commodity in the Confederate South.

I do believe that in the minds of many in the states that seceded from the Union, they were protecting states’ rights.  That may be a myth – perhaps it was to protect their right to own slaves.  Human beings imported against their will & sold like cattle for breeding.

Only cattle were probably treated with more humanity & compassion.

Whatever the individual or collective motivations of the minds in those Confederate states, one fact remains.

The flag of the Confederacy represents a rebellion against the Union.  It threatened to dissolve the very thing that has held this country together.  A balance of powers in three branches, the intricate weaving & reweaving of states’ rights vs. Federal rights.  A shared loyalty to these United States of America.

A continuous coming together against a threat to those United States.

For over two hundred years, control of this country & for so long, control of the free world, has passed every four to eight years without internal violence or rebellion.  This is an amazing record.  One we need to preserve & continue for the benefit of all our citizens.

And, perhaps, the world.

So, for me, the Confederate flag represents a time in our nation’s history when people chose to protect an economic model of prosperity based on slave labor & threatened the dissolution of what has become one of the world’s oldest democracies.

Is our democracy perfect or always fair or always wise?  Of course not.  It is run by human beings who are, by our nature, flawed. 

So, our democracy is flawed & unfair at times.  It is up to its citizens to lesson those flaws & that unfairness.

Rach, we both know people who are working to repair flaws, who fight against injustice & the lack of fair treatment.  We both know people who are the true patriots of this Democracy.  Who, each in their own way, are making our neighborhoods, our states, our country, our world a finer & fairer place for all. 

The battle flag of the Confederacy belongs in a museum.  It needs to be reclaimed from white supremacists as the historical artifact it is.  It needs to become a symbol of an internal war based on an outdated & inhumane economic model & a system that refused to modernize, industrialize & free its workers from slave labor.  It needs to become an artifact that symbolizes the reality:  A house divided cannot stand.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Jaki Jean on Finding Jack's Aggieland Volumes for Janet

Before noon today, my sister Janet came to spend time with our mother Jean.  I ran errands, I came back with some groceries, heated Jean’s lunch, & began to wash fruit.

During my sister’s visit, we talk about what is going on in her life & later, from my vantage point in the kitchen, I see her wandering, looking at bookshelves.  So I ask her if she is looking for something.

Daddy’s Aggielands.

I cannot remember the last time I laid eyes on my father’s annuals from Texas A&M, but I know that this is important to my sister.  I always assumed that she had taken them, as the only one of our father’s children to become an Aggie.

When I told Janet that I always thought she had those annuals, she was not convinced.

My sister’s daughter, Emily Kate Douglas, is going to graduate from A&M this December.  I thought, these are part of Emily’s heritage as an Aggie, something her mother wants to make sure she is going to have.  This is something my Father would want.

So, after my sister left & I folded sheets (I am plagued by folding sheets).  I go an expedition.  I begin with a blue trunk, covered in dust.  It is falling apart & I know it needs to be emptied & discarded but throwing away things that are falling apart is hard for me these days.

In a dust covered, falling apart blue trunk, I find my father’s Aggielands & some bowling trophies.

Tomorrow, when my sister brings me a lawyer’s bookshelf she does not need in her new abode, I will give her those volumes.  

Because I know what they mean to her, what they will mean to my niece Emily Kate, & what making sure the volumes found the right home would mean to my father, Jack.
Of course, I expect all parties to remember that I am on page 299 in the 1957 volume, along with a pressed flower next to my picture,

Gig em.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 21st is Barbara's Birthday

April 21st, 2015

Yesterday morning, I cleaned off the white board on which I write the day & date for Jean.  It is a new board, by Crayola, which does not work as well as the old & demands a great deal of attention to clean & maintain.

I leave the board blank, & go off to the kitchen to fix Jean’s breakfast.
When I return, Jean tells me:

April 21st in Barbara’s birthday.

I serve Jean her breakfast of eggs & a side of strawberries & then yogurt & blueberries.  And then I change the date on the demanding white board & I check the veracity of Aunt Barbara’s birth date.

According to my Uncle Mansel’s book:  A Texas in Australia, my Aunt Barbara, the next to youngest of my grandparent’s nine children, was born on April 21st.

Of course, because so much of what is about me in Uncle Mansel’s book is wrong, I decide I trust Jean’s memory.

April 23rd, 2015

This afternoon, I decide to ask Jean to talk about her sister Barbara.  And then I notice her nails & remember that I need to cut them & file them down.

I am a failure at manicures – my own nails are a testament to that fact.  I believe in nail salons the way I believe in dry cleaners to launder shirts & training sons to do their own ironing.   But I cut Jean’s nails & I file them in my inept way.

Jean thanks me, my nails feel better, she says & then her eyes wander to the shelves next to her bed that contain books & supplies & movies & I ask her if she would like to listen to some music.

I think that would be nice.

So I pull out Carole King’s Tapestry & when I Feel the Earth Move under my Feet blares out, Jean’s feet & legs & arms begin to move to the music & she smiles.

So, later, I will ask Jean to give me her favorite memory of Aunt Barbara.

Right now, she is still feeling the earth move under her feet.

Friday, April 10, 2015

On the Occasion of Daniel McAteer's Birthday

Today is my friend Daniel McAteer’s thirty seventh birthday.

This is a picture of Daniel looking very cool.

When I first met Daniel, I thought, although I knew, that I could have given birth to this man.  My eldest son Nicholas Jordan Ettinger Ravel is six years younger than Daniel McAteer.

Daniel & I met during my most recent sojourn in the offshore industry. Actually, I heard about him several weeks before we met in person.

A clerk working for my company’s client sent me an email, telling me that Daniel needs this information in this format, blah, blah, blah.

I went to my supervisor & asked her who the hell is this Daniel & why do I need to send him information?

My boss told me she knew nothing about a Daniel & perhaps I should send the clerk a note, with my title & ask who the hell is this Daniel character.

Whatever I wrote, whomever my boss spoke to about Daniel, his boss, Graham Copperwaithe, asked me to a meeting in the shipyard in Sabine Pass or Orange, Texas – some shipyard town on the Gulf Coast, to meet with Daniel & coordinate an information exchange.  I have been trying since the beginning of this project to get Daniel onboard, Graham told me, but he was on another project & Daniel does not leave until the job is done.

I loved Graham Copperwaithe.  I loved the silly, funny nicknames he called his wife.  I loved his honesty when we spoke of what it is like to work your life in the offshore industry.  I loved that he never told anyone anything more about the Saturday he & were the only people at the Songa Offshore USA offices when he saw me deposit goodies bags for Mother’s Day on my co-workers desks than:  There was a lot of activity that day.

There was a lot of activity that Saturday before Mother’s Day – I instinctively checked my email & the fax machine.  There was a fax for Graham.  The last page was the first page I saw:

Fuck you, Graham.

So I met Daniel in a trailer conference room (those who have never been to a shipyard probably cannot envision a conference room in a trailer but there are double & triple wide trailers in the oil business.)

Of course, since he called it, Daniel conducted the meeting.  He needed something from each one at the table, everyone needed something from everyone else & we all needed something from Daniel.

At the end of the meeting, every person of the table left believing that they got everything they came for – including myself.

And Daniel got everything on his list from everyone at the tale.

I remember watching Daniel as he gathered his things from the table & thinking, grasshopper, you just wove us all into the tapestry you wanted.  I write that now, but I think at the time I thought, Fuckin’ well done, Daniel.

It was masterful.

In my memory, I think that Daniel knew that I understood exactly what, that he was leaving the conference table victorious & that everyone else at the table felt the same victory.   

I clearly remember, looking at him & thinking, this man just read my mind.

Daniel is a man who called me dearest with affection; a man who loves his wife, Kelly, & his mother, & his sister & his sister’s children.  A man who wears a kilt with pride.  A man who got married on a mountain top with a helicopter instead of a limo as the get way transportation.

A man whose voice I still hear when he posts on Facebook – although in the past his accent, so deeply imbedded with his soul in Scotland, more than once baffled me after too many sips of Scotch.

Daniel McAteer turned 37 today.  I could have given birth to him.  Instead, I have been given the privilege of knowing him.

Daniel & his wife Kelly, who I believe is his soul mate, have plans for when they leave their current gig in Singapore. 

Daniel & Kelly are taking a year & then some to travel the world.  A grand adventure all their followers hope to share in pictures & blurbs from across the globe.

As do I.  Although I am hoping that one of them, or each of them, or together – I am hoping for a journal.  A chronicle to answer the question:  Where in the world are Dan & Kelly McAteer?

So, on this day, Daniel McAteer’s 37th Birthday, on the eve of the next great exploration in his life, I sayWell done, my friendHold tight to Kelly & keep the adventure alive.

And if you & Kelly find yourselves in Texas during the next year, find me.  And remember to call me dearest.  Happy Birthday, Daniel.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Thoughts on Good Friday, Scintillating Moments & Code Blue in Room 236

Day thirty-seven at Kindred Hospital.  Good Friday, 2015.

During this soiree, and our week at Methodist Hospital in Sugar Land, Jean & I have experienced both scintillating & stormy days.  Some days are diamonds, some are stone.

Today did not begin as a sparkling day – even the sun hides behind the clouds &the air hangs muggy with just enough humidity to suck the energy out of your body & soul.

Jean’s primary care physician of many years returned after a brief trip out of town.  As always, he asked Jean how she was feeling.  On each of our prior days in captivity, Jean’s reply has never varied.

Until this morning.

This morning, instead of her standard I am good or I am well, or I am fine, Jean told Dr. Patel:

I am mad.

I looked at Jean & Dr. Patel looked at me before asking her Why are you mad?

Because they poked & prodded & pricked me & it hurt.

Dr. Patel asked Jean if the nurses drew blood & when she said yes, I got up & looked at her arm.

Blood is drawn from Jean’s picc line every few days to monitor the level of antibiotic her body is absorbing.  If the level falls, the pharmacist increases the dosage.

This is Jean’s third picc line in thirty seven days.  The first stopped working, its replacement caused an infection.  For how long, no one can say.  But early after its insertion, nurses were unable to draw blood from the picc line & began poking & prodding & pricking to feed the vampires I am certain are sequestered in the hospital lab.

Shifts came & went, & every time blood was drawn, Jean was pricked & poked & prodded several times before the blood gave itself up to feed the ravenous lab dwellers.

Jean’s veins are tricky.  Deceptive in appearance, they disappear at the approach of a needle.  More often than not, if an IV is successfully inserted, the vein blows in defiance of the invasion.

Jean’s tricky, elusive veins are selective about whom to entrust with the life product they carry – no phlebotomist fails to draw blood with one prick of the needle.  Nurses & doctors seldom experience success the first or second or third attempt.

Her second picc line developed an infection & had to be removed for a vacation of several days.  But when multiple attempts to insert an IV into her arms failed, her doc ordered a third line.

After a week of watching the nurses at Methodist Hospital in Sugar Land struggle to draw blood & replace IV lines – & watching Jean’s eyes brim with silent tears of anger at the invasion, tears of frustration at what she perceived as a lack of nursing skill, holding her breath & wincing in pain – I wanted a prick & poke & prod & pain free six weeks for her at Kindred.

Why the nurse assigned to Room 229 last night decided to draw blood from Jean’s arm instead of the picc line, I still do not know.  Uncharacteristically, I slept through the incident.

I obsess about why the nurse was unable to draw blood from the line – is the line functioning?  Is there another leak?  Did the nurse have a brain freeze & not use the line? I embark on a vain search for a supervisor.  Dr. Patel assures me he will find out why the nurse took blood out of Jean’s arm.

I gather my tote bag of empty plastic bags & an empty pitcher brought with us from Methodist (it took two weeks to get a pitcher of less quality & durability from Kindred) & head to the first floor, to procure ice for the morning.

Sometimes I drive to the nearest convenience store & pay almost $3 for a ten pound bag of ice – past visits to Kindred have left me gun shy about asking a CNA to bring me ice from the only source of ice on the second floor – a machine behind locked doors.

But this morning, I do not want to play nice.  I don’t care about trying to live my life as a kinder & gentler Jaki Jean.  I am angry at the nurse who hurt Jean, I am angry at myself for sleeping through the incident; I am angry because the supervisor’s office is dark & empty of human form.  I am angry at every infraction, every slight, every error, every real & perceived neglect & mismanagement in my mother’s care during our stay at Kindred.

As I near my destination on the first floor, compiling & editing & no doubt embellishing my list of grievances, a voice comes over the hospital’s loud speaker:

Urgent Assistance needed in Room 236.

The voice repeats the call several times until the required assistance is more than urgent:

Code Blue in Room 236.  Code Blue in Room 236.  Code Blue in Room 236.

The door to the Conference Room flings open, white coats flying as the bodies inside them run to the elevators.

My heart falters, my list of grievances turns to dust & I realize that I don’t know who is in Room 236, which is across the hall from our space in 229.  Room 236 was empty for weeks & I was oblivious to the arrival of a new resident.

I say a prayer, wishing I were Catholic so I could cross myself.  I remember that it is Good Friday & I shudder at what a loss during a holiday weekend might mean for the survivors.

As I gather ice, I think about the only other Code Blue I have heard during our weeks at Kindred Hospital – Code Blue in ICU #5.   I wonder about the outcome of that call & realize that I have immunized myself against the call to ICU #5 – ICU is on the first floor & out of my sight.

But the door to Room 236 is in my sight, visible from my spot in Room 229 unless I draw the curtain to block the outside world without shutting our door.  I say another prayer for a family I do not & will never know & walk slowly back to the elevators.

On the second floor, I round the corner to our wing.  Our part of the wing is spacious, with three large windows at the end of a wide, uncluttered corridor.
The space is empty of human forms, the crash cart usually stored against a wall outside our room is gone.  The door to Room 236 is closed.

As I unpack my stash of ice, I see that the valve used to connect Jean’s nebulizer to Oxygen is gone, the nebulizer flung on the chest of drawers next to Jean’s bed.  I hear a voice cry out over & over again.

No.  No.  No.  No.  Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

The grief & pain are palatable.  I can feel the loss in that cry fill the empty space, feel it cross the corridor, breaching my body & my soul. Calling forth memories of other cries, other losses.

My mother holding my father’s lifeless body, asking Jack, don’t leave me.  I remember how cold his skin felt when I touched him face & hands.  I feel & remember my mother’s reaction to the news of her own father’s death.  My father Jack rushing to Jean’s side to gather her up in his arms as she fell against a wall.

The door to our room is open.   A housekeeper is cleaning.  I gather myself, watching Jean, who cannot yet hear the cries from the hall.

A voice cries out Mama & this time Jean can hear it.  I don’t want her to feel it, to feel the grief & recall other times of grieving so I move to close the door.

A case worker is holding a stricken daughter, holding her tightly, absorbing every cry & every sob.  The case worker’s eyes meet mine & I begin to weep for a woman & a daughter & a family I do not & will never know.

I close the door quietly, desperately wanting to give this woman a semblance of privacy in which to absorb & mourn her mother’s death.

As I try to compose myself so that Jean does not absorb my inexplicable empathy with the woman in the open space outside our room, the housekeeper watches me, her face stoic, eyes curious.  She does not stop sweeping a dry mop across the floor.

Because she is watching me, because I cannot compose myself & want to openly weep, I do what I always do when I cannot compose myself.  I speak, attempting to explain my reaction.

It is hard, it is just so hard.
Without missing a stroke of the mop, the housekeeper shrugs & says:
We’re used to it.  We see it all the time.

Her words cut the cord connecting me to the woman still weeping in the hallway.

I wonder about this young woman cleaning our room.  Who, what is she?  What kind of a being is so hard at so young an age that any, every death does not diminish a piece of her own soul?

Eventually it is quiet outside our door.  I need to go to the store to get chocolate pudding for Jean – she does not care for the vanilla pudding offered her as a set-up to mix with the probiotic granules she takes three times a day to combat an onslaught of C-Diff.

Opening our door, I see the family of the woman in Room 236 has begun to gather.  Room 236’s door is open & I hear muffled cries.   As I walk away to set about on my errand, I can distinguish exclamations of anger & disbelief mingled with words of comfort & strength – all the components of sorrow & loss are present.

Later, when Jean’s lunch arrives, the space in our corridor is populated with family members.  There are no chairs in the open space – people settle on the floor, against walls, against one another.  Room 236 is not as large as our room – we have one of the rooms that used to hold two patients. 

I know the death has been reported, because I saw the Sugar Land police leaving the facility when I returned from my errand. I wonder why no one has come for the body.

It is new to me, this gathering of family & friends to visit the body at the hospital.  I have never experienced it.  But I have learned from my friend Jermaine, who works in the cafeteria downstairs, that it is not unusual for a body to remain for hours before being removed to a funeral home.

Jermaine tells me that the deceased woman & her daughter were recent arrivals to Kindred.  But not new to the facility – they had spent their own soirees together at Kindred.  He told me :  Her daughter is like you.  She stays with her mother all the time.

Jean’s favorite pastor from Sugar Creek Baptist Church, Jay Myers, arrives for a visit & I tell him about the recent death.  Jay asks me if there is a Chaplin on staff at Kindred. 

I tell him that I have never seen one & what was once the chapel here has been converted to an office.  I have seen a priest from time to time – I noticed him because he is so tall that he has to duck when he enters the elevator.

As Jay visits with Jean, I think about the first time Jean & I were at Kindred for the pressure wound.  We were in this same corridor, a few doors down in Room 232. 

We had a CNA (I no longer remember her name) who prayed with Jean every time she came to the room.  I learned her story over our weeks that October in 2012.  She was a transplant from Louisiana, one of the victims of Hurricane Katrina who decided to plant new roots in Texas.  She was recently married – a good man -  she met at a Bible Study she conducted among her fellow refugees at the apartment complex in which they both lived during the first months after leaving their temporary home in the Astrodome.

I know very little of the story of the women who resided in Room 236.   I know one was a mother, one a daughter who cared for her mother & who, according to my friend Jermaine in the cafeteria downstairs, always had a smile & a cheerful greeting.   And I know that a community of family & friends is diminished by her death.

Later in the afternoon, the corridor of our wing is empty, the crash cart returned to its storage spot outside our room.  A nurse is tending to it, rearranging supplies.  Patrick from respiratory arrives & I tell him that the Oxygen connection he uses for Jean’s breathing treatments is missing.  I found the nebulizer on the chest next to Jean’s bed.

It was needed across the hall.  I will get another.

I look out the window & the sun has made an appearance.  Sunlight filters through the window in our room.  I look out our door & sun rays fill the now empty space.

Scintillating, a scintillating moment.

Room 236 is being cleaned.  The family & the body are gone & with the sunlight, I remember that it is Good Friday.

A day when others are attending Good Friday services, watching & participating in re-enactments of the Stations of the Cross, remembering the Cross & the Sacrifice of our Lord.  Revering the enormity brought about by Christ’s death.   A day of praise & thanksgiving.

At last I think about that Friday thousands of years ago, when Christ called out & gave up his spirit.  The earth shook,  rocks split, tombs opened & the veil in the Temple separating man from the place where God dwells was torn in two. (Matthew 27: 51-52, NIV – Jean’s preferred translation.)

Mankind restored to Grace, restored to God.

This Friday a woman occupying Room 236 of Kindred Hospital gave up her spirit.  The world she exited shook, hearts broke, a stone rolled away & her restored spirit went home.

And I whispered another prayer, humbled by this day & that Friday afternoon before a long-ago Sabbath.   Grateful for scintillating moments ofSelah.