Throughout March’s billowy gusts and slushy melts, I learned one hundred Japanese words and phrases promised to express 1,000 ideas. Two hour hikes with Nina Sophia filled with practice sessions until she recognized “O-tearai wa loko desu ka?” as an important question, although probably not as “Where’s the bathroom?” By the Ides of March, I knew the names of the snow monkeys inhabiting Jigokudani Park. My 21-inch ultralight suitcase was packed and ready to go for a month of Sakura no Kisetsu—cherry blossom season—in Japan. Except that’s not what happened.
Instead I picked Intrepid Guy up from the Penticton, B.C. on his way to a hospital stay followed by six to eighteen months of trudging toward remission. Trust me, we’d have preferred Sakura no Kisetsu. I unpacked my luggage in half an hour, and then stashed it on a high shelf where I wouldn’t be confronted daily with wretchedness. Except that’s not what happens.
As my sweet guy tackles this autoimmune nightmare with a medieval regime of drugs that fail to address the issue while killing what was once an entirely beneficial immune system, I’ve put my head down to get through it—again. Frankly, this “leaning in” attitude has gone on a decade too long. Instead of cherry blossoms, we’ve changed course. Yes, I serve as Intrepid Guy’s support system, and he keeps his eyes on the prize of reclaimed health. Even so, I’m discovering petite aventures that keep me close enough for the daily toil, yet allow me to plump up my dehydrated spirits. A
trip north to Penticton, British Columbia, went well until a bad cartoon fall left me with a Mt. St. Helen’s hematoma on one knee, a broken nose, and a jaw that’s not quite right. After six weeks, an ergonomic cane suffices for those times when the healing knee buckles. Still I’m back to condensed jaunts elsewhere, which alleviate a graceless tendency to gnaw my own paws. Today I muse over how others deal with setbacks—or worse.