Friday, April 23, 2010

and death i think is no parentheses

We had one red tulip in a vase on our kitchen table. I stuck in a stray hosta leaf, and liked the effect. Later, the tulip dropped its six petals one by one, leaving what you may agree looks like an ethereal being, halo slipped down a bit, raising its arms in joy.

There are many problems with this as a photograph, but it was the best I could do right now. I had a pulmonary function test today and am tired. I love the quilted effect of the leaf, and its ruffled edge . . . and where the stem enters the water.

Two days ago, in a routine followup, my doctor asked me whether I had found a live donor. No. I confessed to him that I couldn't even do the first thing to look for one for three years after a nephrologist told me I needed to do that.

He nodded. "That's because it would mean admitting how sick you are."

Sometimes they're so sharp, or you're just in a place where you're ready to hear. This remark went in and ruined the happy equilibrium I've had for quite a while. Oh, sometimes I would cry, but not for long. But this stirred up the waters. I ended up saying to Tom, "I don't want to die. I don't know what's there."

I will die, and much sooner if the only treatment I can get for my ever-lower kidney function is dialysis. It merely keeps you alive; it doesn't give you back your life. I will live longer if I get a kidney from a deceased donor - I've been waiting for that for two years. I will live much longer and be healthier if I get a kidney from a living donor. That's getting a new life.

Quite a while back I saw how uncomfortable people were when they asked me hopefully, "How are you doing? You look good," and I responded with the truth. I decided this kind of statement/inquiry is social, like "How do you do?" which isn't really a question. So I've been upbeat about this constant decline in my health, about the three hospitalizations last year, though they went into the church newsletter. About not being able to go to the church's Labor Day Retreat any more, too hard on me to have a bad night's sleep. I'm never going to get the truth out this way. I need a way to be honest and let other people deal with their own discomfort. It's a Zen thing, just be sincere.

I slept very long last night and had a complicated dream, from which I awoke thinking I'm going to start a second blog and call it "Looking for a Kidney." That seems less aggressive than "Dying for a Kidney." So I might do that, when I feel more rested. The transplant surgeon ordered the pulmonary function test because I am increasingly short of breath. It does that to you.

The tulip, if it can think or sense, may understand it is a bulb that has a good chance of blooming next year. I wish I thought I did.


  1. I was told tonight that someone I knew as a dharma sister is now dying in the hospital. There is no sadness or loss in the news. She chose her way of living to this point and I have respected it. We create the path along which we return every year with the seasons. You are in my garden, evergreen, no coming, no going. Start a second blog and call it "The Tulip." :-)

  2. No matter what bloom you have next year, your flower will be ever more beautiful. I think that that is your Karma. Ps, the photo perfectly captures the moment.

  3. beautiful photo, sensual, ethereal, very Georgia Okeefe. And thanks for sharing the depth of your journey. It's interesting to me in my own life that sometimes something can come to me at the right time and point the way. Perhaps the doctor's blunt comment was what you needed to move you to the next step? I like Genju's idea "The Tulip"

  4. ZenDot - Yes. Sometimes I feel the universe has a benign motherly love for all its creatures, and is able to send a little help our way.

  5. I love the photo and the light falling on the leaf.. even in its fading life (death), it stands tall and lives.