by Bentley J. on Monday, 23 November 2009 at 21:37
Saturday night I read How It Works t the AA meeting. It’s a section of the fifth chapter of our basic text, read aloud at the beginning of each meeting, and usually takes about four minutes. It took me a lot longer, because I was stopping every few sentences to breathe. I realized I could have passed it to one of the people beside me, but I decided I wanted to get through it myself. Shortly before the meeting (it was topic/discussion) ended, the chairman asked me to share. I said, “I never realized how long How It Works is before tonight.” A few people chuckled; they all know me. Then I said, “I think that was my last time,” and I started to cry.
I cried when I went to The Open Line to get my turkey. It turned out to be a whole Thanksgiving dinner, potatoes and pie crusts and disposable roaster pan and all.
Tonight, Monday, November 23, 2009, I chaired the meeting. It was a good meeting. We read from a book directed at newcomers, and there was a lot of sharing on “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten” and “Stay out of slippery places” and “When adversity happens, practice gratitude” — of course, the personal stories shared were more than proverbs, they were strength of experience, wrapped in syllables.
After closing, while the lady I give rides to was helping clean up, I went into the sanctuary. It’s an addition, less than ten years old (I remember before it was there), and the acoustics inside are remarkable. I have gone in there half a dozen times to sing, by the light of the windows, after the meeting. Tonight I had a strong feeling it would be the last time I heard my voice in a Great Space. I sang with a long pause after each line, “God grant that the light of Unity . . . May envelope the whole Earth . . . and that the seal, The Kingdom is God’s . . . will be stamped upon the brow of all its Peoples.” I sang it twice. I sang as loud as I could. Then I sang part of the Ave Maria. I didn’t cry at the end, just listened to the vibrations of my voice fade into silence. Then I said Thank you.
Maybe I am finished crying about this.
Specifically, a gastric bypass. It happens in less than two weeks, but the process of getting all the clearances has taken something like ten months.
I am just too tired to write about the appointment I had today. My surgery is on May 28. I am now on day two of what they call a liquid diet, to prepare my liver, but actually I can have two cups of vegetables a day. Yuck. I am having protein shakes (3-5/day), Crystal Light, lots of water, sugar-free Jell-o, and, in my case, coffee. Just one cup, and I make hot chocolate out of it. I’m allowed skim milk, but only in protein shakes. I’m really glad I switched to skim so long ago, because I actually like it. The worst part is being here for hours and hours alone. Usually I have a great deal of gratitude for my porch, my rockers, and my quiet apartment, but sometimes I feel like I’m the only person in the world. Today I was at Einstein Hospital for over four hours, meeting with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist, and getting tests and x-rays made. I had to do a lot of waiting around because of needing to be wheeled everywhere.
My highest weight was 330, but today in the office (and this makes it my official Starting Weight) the scale said 299.4.
Here is a very pretty Before picture, taken at Aunt Kathleen’s house after Christmas 2012:
Everybody in all my address books has gotten an infected link from this address. I’m sorry Please DON’T OPEN ANY LINKS from me. If you opened it, please run a virus scan.
This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.
Just one of the beautiful sights from my porch.
It’s already 1:00, and I have not done a single thing on my list for today. Here is the list:
Is that so much to ask? I also have laundry and desk stuff to do, but I want to make the list attainable. Why can I not face it?
Funny dream thing of the week: Studying a booklet of instructions, I read, “As soon as you see your protein go down, drink wezblenka and lactolade.”
I love my dreams!
Wezblenka. I’m going to take a Sharpie and write WEZBLENKA on my lemonade bottle.
Dracula has returned to the mountaintop ruin that was the citadel from which his wife jumped four hundred years earlier to avoid capture and torture by the Sultan’s army. Hassan has told him that he must go there and make peace with her spirit, for he had not forgiven her.
The blackness below was absolute. There was no river, no ravine, no opposite cliff — only the stars, close enough to touch, and the silver crescent of moon that lay its pale light on the stones and the vines and the gloveless white hands of Dracula, who was leaning over the wall.
For Mournier, no night sounds penetrated the ominous and ghostly beating of the hearts that had died on the mountainside. Among the chorus of drums that pounded the song of the enslaved boyars, one high, plaintive strain of violin could be heard over and over, beginning where the tower had once stood and disappearing into the invisible chasm.
A breeze kissed her cheek and gently blew Vlad’s hair across his face. He did not move a hand, but only gazed into the darkness. After a moment, Mournier reached toward his profile and tucked a curl behind his ear then laid her hand on his shoulder. He did not move away, so she stood by his side and said, “It’s so distinct that I almost expect you to hear it too.”
“What do you hear?” he asked, as softly as though someone slept nearby.
“Drums. There were a hundred, all pounding different rhythms. But they’ve begun to go silent, one by one.”
For a second he didn’t respond, then he half-smiled to himself and turned to her. “Heartbeats,” he said. “Yes, there were hundreds. I was hearing something entirely different, but now I hear the heartbeats too.”
Quickly, before she could change her mind, Mournier said, “When my teacher and I came here before, we threw flowers for your lady. And we prayed. We thought at the time that the two of you were together. Dracula . . . I don’t know what you believe — but I am sure a suicide is redeemable. You may suppose I believe that because I have to, because I can’t accept that the Squire suffers in perdition, but no, that’s not it. I believe with all my soul in the intercession of Mary; and if the Blessed Virgin is with us in the hour of our death, she can surely whisper in our ear as we fall. Perhaps the moment before his head hit the rocks my father repented and was saved. When I looked down at his body his soul may have been in paradise. So may your lady.”
Vlad hesitated, then said kindly, “Thank you Mournier. Were you there, then, when your father’s body was found?”
“I saw him jump, my lord.” Her voice caught, for it was something she had not said aloud in many years.
Side by side they stood and listened to the last heartbeats fade into the sounds of a Romanian winter’s night. Mournier waited for the last two to be silenced, then realized they were her own and the prince’s. She listened for Hassan’s and finally found it beating in time to Vlad’s. Her own was out of sync, but somewhere below she heard the last echoes of the violin fading with the distant waters of the Arges.
She asked Vlad’s profile, “What are you thinking?”
He took her hand and turned to her with parted lips and hair lifted by the wind. In his expression she saw all the ancient knowledge of war and loss and sacrifice, all the destruction of innocence by paternal betrayal, all the desperate nights of love snatched from the fangs of death; she heard the holy chanting and the screams of the impaled; she smelled incense, wax, gunpowder, sweat, perfume; and she tasted a wine that had mellowed for centuries, to be shared with few. She savored the drops she drank from his emerald goblet and realized as it touched her tongue that all her pretensions to spiritual comfort, all the wisdom of her ruminations, were as the canvas of a student rolled out before the Master’s critique; that Dracula had already pondered these things, read about them, worn them as an accustomed garment; that if he felt a chill at all, it was the chill of four hundred years, and that he would not find the warmth she had found in the shabby patchwork of myth and catechism she had stitched together for her own comfort.
His eyes, however, did not judge her but reflected tenderness as familiar to her as the words and gestures he had begun to use — green beneath the dark December stars, they nevertheless shed Hassan’s golden light as Vlad answered her.
“I am thinking that you are young . . . so very, very young. And that I would give anything to protect you. But I cannot.”
He let go of the hand.