I was in Denver a few days ago, and flew out just after their latest bomb cyclone storm had gone through. I had joined my sisters and sister-in-law, to be with our brother for heart surgery. This, after his year-long hospitalization for treatment of leukemia and a bone marrow transplant from my sister. He’s the only one left alive of the 26 patients in the clinical trial. Between meetings with the surgeons, and the never-ending weather channel news about the bomb cyclone on its way, it felt like a high-wire act.
On the day of surgery, the blizzard was scheduled to hit between 1 and 3 pm. Schools had early outs, the government shut down, and we were told to STAY OFF THE ROADS. But, off we drove to the sprawling university hospital campus, at the intersection of several interstates, to keep our vigil. At 12:30 p.m., the team of surgeons called for us to come to a private conference room, which was hours before they said the operation would be over. Fearing the worst, we four stared out the windows, watched the wind and snow begin, and fought back tears with all our might. To our great surprise and enormous relief, the team of doctors came into the room and told us that the operation was textbook perfect, our brother had sailed through with flying colors, and we could see him in intensive care within the hour. Tears and hugs all around, and when we went to the cafeteria for a bowl of hot soup, we were shaking so badly that our spoons barely made it to our mouths. There are monitors all around the cafeteria, color coded to find your loved one. We kept watching his number, still in the green zone–surgery–and then it turned blue for recovery, and off we went to the elevators to see him.
Donning gowns and gloves, we found him alert and happy to be alive, and we hugged and kissed amidst all the cords and wires and beeping monitors of a cardiac intensive care unit. We sat on the fold-out sofa and breathed in oxygen for the first time in hours. It was after 3:00, and when we looked out the windows and saw the blizzard was in full force, we knew it was time to immediately leave, or we’d be spending the night with him and our sister-in-law. The trip home to my sister’s house had its own drama. She needed her insulin which she’d left back at the house. The road was jam-packed with cars off in the median, flashing emergency vehicle lights blurred in the white-out, and we needed a gas station as we’d been running on fumes forever. I could see the headlines: “Three elderly sisters–one in diabetic coma– run out of gas on interstate in bomb cyclone”. But, we found gas and made it home, including a stop at the liquor store, which turned out to be our dinner that night. We couldn’t get off the couch to make anything to eat, and just watched funny TV shows until we collapsed into bed.
The clouds were stunning, all the way to home. It felt like I’d been gone a long time, and even though I know that nothing changes by mid-April, I was still surprised that nothing had changed. Away but a few days, it was easy to imagine that the temperatures had risen into the 60’s, the snow piles were gone, and summer felt just around the corner. Convinced that this April is colder than past years, I went back through my blog posts and found evidence that it is always like this. The dirty snow piles, the clouds, the rain and cold, are always here mid-April. We become delusional around the mid-point of April. Patience runs thin and gloom hangs just beneath the rain clouds. I’m tired of the world’s bad news. None of my soup recipes sound good anymore and I can’t remember how to cook anything else.
When I went to the grocery store, the young clerk told me she really likes the gloomy days, and that sunny days make her anxious. Sunny days make her feel like she has to do something, but on dreary days, if she doesn’t want to do anything, it’s perfectly acceptable. She does have a point. Why not just conserve energy for the wildly energetic long summer days out there in the future. And, turns out, I need a bit of rest anyway.
“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.”
– Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time