|Heather McHugh, Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Canada 2013|
Imagination makes me large. The constraints of duty make me small.
This morning, the telephone rang too early and the voice of my Saturday caregiver gave me the death knell words that she wouldn't be able to come in today to take care of Sophie. I confess to irritation. I confess to snapping. I confess to internal dramatics -- the I can't go on and I hate my life and This is only the beginning -- before I pulled myself together and got out of bed with a big, grandmotherly sigh (Pray that I die, my Italian grandmother used to mutter, while fingering her rosary beads. Pray that I die). When I later opened my email and saw that my friend, the great caregiver and writer Jeneva Burroughs Stone, had an essay published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, and that this essay was a tribute to Heather McHugh, the extraordinary poet who gifted me with my recent respite week in Victoria -- well -- I took it as a sign. While my literal week away in Canada, when I was taken care of with exquisite attention to detail -- good food, beautiful nature, the ocean, cultural excursions, solitude, real rest and sleep, massage, baths, brilliant conversation, (the only thing lacking, sex) -- is receding, the memory of it is clear, and that clarity is a glass door that leads to possibility. Because of Heather and Caregifted, I now know that respite and the concomitant return to my self is possible, my self is indeed intact. That glass door might be closed to me today, and I might walk around fingering my rosary, pray that I die, but I can certainly look through it. I'm also going to make a peach pie.
Read Jeneva's essay here.