We linger over the dinner clean-up. She's wiping the counters down with a hot soapy dishcloth, freeing the area of streaks, as she's done after every meal I've known in her home. I follow her like a puppy, not necessarily doing anything to help, beyond putting the easy stuff away. After I've placed the salt and pepper shakers in their place in the cabinet, we go back to a hard conversation we had a few months ago and I reassure her that, after some reflection, I think I understand.
She tells me that there were countless times she dreamed of a cruise vacation, or a week in Hawaii. And not so long ago, she would have jumped at the opportunity and the fun anticipation that such a trip entails. But not today, she says. They are so grateful for the offer, she tells me, so very grateful, but not now.
Now, while the white blood cells in my father's body multiply erratically, and doggedly fill the remaining space in his lymph nodes, before moving on to new vessels, she needs to embrace the simple, quiet life that they find at home.
Now, she wants only to be with him. Admittedly, to have him all to herself, shuffling about their three bedroom single level track home, attending furniture refinishing projects and grass cutting. He's still as funny to her as ever, and as kind. Gently agreeing to rebuild the back of a desk she found at Goodwill, and meticulously chopping the veggies and other necessities of the recipe he's chosen for dinner. She's aching already, and us along with her, while the time bomb of his cancer ticks away. Who knows how long life will still be good. All she knows for sure is that home is generally free of the distractions and worry that catching planes and small talk with strangers bring about.
I left my three kids with them three days ago. Presumably for quality time and not to add to their stress. Chris and I are in Aspen, Colorado attending a medical conference and enjoying yet another gift from my parents in the form of a weekend without our offspring.
While alone yesterday, I ran, or walked mostly, along a narrow dirt path that followed a creek along the Rio Grande Trail. The warm autumn sun was warm on by back - too warm - and the warbled shade provided by the delicate flutter of aspen leaves allowed a respite from the task of running in the heat. It was then that I could appreciate some of the jewels of the Rockies.
I observed the dry grasses and wildflowers beyond their peak, arched over the edge of the path, creating a red carpet of sorts. The smell of fallen aspen leaves, earthy but somehow still bearing the sharp - and uplifting - smell of spring. Russet reds and oranges surrounded me in the rusty soil of the trail, the iron rails of the foot bridge, and in a good number of the rocks nested in the creek, smooth and rounded from the cover of rushing water. The creek was bordered by rustic, but meticulously maintained and upated, vacation homes. Complete with wooden pads built over the creek, upscale lawn furniture and canvas umbrellas still there, a reminder that true summer was not too long ago.
It was a lovely walk and one that I enjoyed, particularly because it involved some calorie burning. All the same, I still longed to be back at our room at the conference resort, with the surprise of my Hub out early from his morning meetings and ready to join me. There's something so sweet and comforting about having my man here with me, to walk among the aspen trees and to appreciate our now without distraction.