Two weeks ago, right about now, I lied onto an operating room table (it was heated! how lovely!) and joked with the anesthesiologist as he put me to sleep so that my surgeon, the father of a college friend (thanks, Jewish geography), could extract my kidney and pass it along to a room down the hall to be placed in my father’s body.
In the last two weeks my life has become more simple, slow, uncomplicated than I could have imagined. It’s been two weeks since I read a book, a blog post, a newspaper article. It’s been two weeks since I opened my work e-mail. It’s been two weeks since I’ve cleaned anything. Used a stove or an oven. Shopped in a store. Touched a laundry machine. Carried anything anywhere. Slept through the night. Could lie flat in a bed, stand up straight, or go anywhere on my own.
Not to mention, yoga. It’s been two weeks since my last down dog. Plank. Push up. The simple things.
In the last two weeks I haven’t spent more than fifteen minutes of any day outside. This is, maybe, the biggest change. I’m used to thirteen or fourteen hour days, going from work to lunch to yoga to dinner with friends. Home late in time to crash and do it all over again. I’m not one to lounge at home, even for a day. Being sick and stuck at home for three days in May was torture.
The thing is, you get used to it. A friend asked me yesterday what my plans for the day were. And, without irony, I told her about my plans to shower, give R a grocery list, talk to another friend on the phone. Maybe take a walk around the block if I felt up for it. A busy day by these new standards where “shower” is a major event on my to-do list.
I’m finding that I can barely remember the rest of this summer. It seems as distant as last year, the year before. What did I do?
Maybe it’s for the best. I know that, in the last few weeks before I came home for surgery, I felt stronger than I ever have before. I don’t remember the feeling of it, but I remember the thought; I remember knowing it. And I was so scared of what it would mean to let that go. How could I let that go? (And how could I let the rest of summer go?)
But this new normal is now normal and so the difference –usually–doesn’t feel as big as it is. If I can’t really remember it, then I also can’t dwell on it. Occasional panic about ever being able to “have my life back” aside, thinking about life three weeks–or three months–ago brings a similar dull nostalgic ache to thinking about college or childhood summers in Israel. It’s distant past by change, if not by time.
As I write, I’m looking at the sun through the windows in my parents’ house and watching the leaves just barely sway on the trees from the slightest breeze. This is the new equivalent to taking a walk, or lying on the grass with the sun in my face. But I’m finding that my heart is lighter when it’s bright out even if I can’t be in the sunshine. In this one, tiny moment, it’s enough. That’s the new normal.