I have spent the afternoon shoveling, grading, planning lessons, and waiting for my plow guy to make an appearance. He just finished up, pushing the two-foot drifts of white into some kind of organization in my front yard. He looked exhausted, said he'd been plowing since about seven o'clock this morning. And it ain't over yet for him. He's got another day of white to organize.
All the schools in the area have already closed for tomorrow, except the university where I teach. That will probably happen tomorrow morning at about 6 a.m. That means there are a lot of kids, including my own, who are going to stay up late tonight, enjoying an unexpected three-day weekend.
Me? I'm stressing about my drive tomorrow morning to the outpatient surgery center where I earn my medical insurance. It's twenty miles of the worst stretch of winter highway in the Upper Peninsula, besides M-28, which runs to Munising along Lake Superior. The road commission frequently closes M-28 during weather like this. Not sure if it's closed right now, although it wouldn't surprise me. My plow guy told me that the U.S. 41 stretch I have to drive tomorrow morning was 15 miles of whiteout. So . . . that didn't help my anxiety.
It seems like April 15 is a day that causes me stress regularly. Three years ago, I was having anxiety of a different kind . . .
April 15, 2015: Like Drowning, My Dad, Incredible Guilt
Ives and Annie slept, entangled in each other's arms, their daughter sleeping alone. Ives wold get up a half-dozen times a night to make sure that she was resting. And every so often he would push the door open, intending to turn the radio off, but would find himself standing silently over her, his heart breaking whenever he would think about how much Robert's death must have pained her. And he would sometimes move closer, and, brushing aside the hair that fell over her brow, plant a tender kiss on her forehead. He would hear her sigh . . . You know what it was like? It was like drowning.
This paragraph comes shortly after Ives' son, Robert, is murdered. It's always a difficult passage for me to read because it's full of so much pain. I have done what Ives is doing: standing by my daughter's bed, watching her sleep. It's that parental impulse of wanting to protect your child from any harm, any heartbreak. And not being able to.
My dad visits my sister every day in the nursing home. He drives there for lunch and stays several hours. It's really all he can do to help her. He doesn't understand medicine or surgery or treatment. In fact, I would say that he has a severe distrust of doctors and nurses and the medical establishment. Understandably. The healthcare system for which my sister worked fired her for getting a prolonged sickness. The doctors have really done nothing to help her. Now, she's looking at a long-term stay in a nursing home.
My dad comes from the same generation as Ives. Hardworking. Devout. Protective. My sister's situation is tearing him apart. He knows she can't come home in her current state, but he doesn't want to see her flat on her back in a hospital bed all day, every day, either. As a father, it's a terrible position to be in.
I have incredible guilt at the moment. I feel like I should be doing more to help my sister, and, yet, I have to work and teach. My family depends on my paychecks for survival. I don't have a whole lot of freedom in my life. I want to be her advocate, hound the lawyer and social worker and doctors. Yet, I can't do it all on my lunch break or after work.
It feels like all I can do is be like Ives: stand by my sister's bed, watch her sleep, pray.
Saint Marty feels like he's drowning a little bit tonight, too.
|Don't know how long I can hold my breath|
The winter storm warning for my little corner of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has just been extended until 8 p.m. tomorrow night, with the possibility of an additional 10 to 12 more inches of snow.
Saint Marty is getting really tired of winter.
Spring Snow Storm
by: Martin Achatz
The weather guy, in his ugly tie,
Predicts six to twelve inches tonight,
A spring storm out of Alaska, Canada,
Winds as strong as cattle trains.
Tomorrow, I will wake to this creature,
This force of different fronts from ocean,
Mountain, glacier, tundra. I’ve heard
It said a butterfly’s wings, trembled
On African savannah, causes hurricanes
On the Gulf Coast, another flood
In the Big Easy, wipes out Mardi Gras
For good, an oil slick of jazz
On magnolia, pelican wing, bayou.
I wonder if the collective gasp in Japan
After earthquake and tsunami caused
This early spring snow, set into motion
Winds across the Pacific, bore
That shock and grief through salt,
Through supermoon, mixed it with cries
Of caribou and polar bear, brought
It to me, to my home, snow falling
On roof and car, snow on street, lawn,
Gas station, church steeple, snow
Everywhere, heavy as a thousand souls.
Tonight, when I press my lips to my son’s
Fingers, somewhere on this planet
Rain will start to fall in a desert place,
Filling the land with green life.