are you warm, are you real

If anything bolstered me a few days ago during my trips to hospitals and invasive tests it was my husband’s devotion and a sort of, well, chivalry. He accompanied me to the emergency room and did not wait in the waiting are but brought our son along with us which comforted me greatly. He played with Nels on his lap, explaining this or that procedure or instrument, blowing up green latex gloves, tying them off, and drawing features on them. They named two of these balloon-creatures: “Slen” and “Flar” (their respective names, backwards). Ralph held my hand when they inserted a wire in my arm; he took our son out the the vending machines and let him choose his snack and drink. He gave me privacy for changing clothes but stood by me in the hours of waiting. I remember appreciating the gift of this intimacy along with his impeccable respectful behavior.

I was barely back and prescriptioned before heading up for a two-day, one-night spiritual retreat with a girlfriend. I won’t lie: being in the presence of Catholicism was both new and a bit intimidating. In large part because I was new to the priory, though, my retreat stayed an internally secular one. My friend and I enjoyed fellowship, talks, knitting projects, uninterrupted meals together, walks in the woods and restful time apart in our rooms (her room was named Hrotsvit and mine Scholastica, both after Benedictine personages). The priory was comfortable but not at all ostentatious – plenty of thick, but well-worn towels for showers and my mattress had a memory foam top! – the food home-cooked and comforting, the environs peaceful and quiet. The sisters themselves were quite terrifying to me (not according to their behavior: they were perfectly friendly and entirely “normal”-seeming); I remained in awe of their way of life and thought about it a great deal during my time there.

While resting last night before dinner I turned the lights off, lay down in my room, and listened to Nat King Cole on my iPod, which was just about as nice an experience as I could conjure for myself. I missed my husband and children, but knew I’d be back to them soon. I had time to reflect on my friend and her nature, a good nature; I appreciated her getting me tea and coffee and offering companionship. I enjoyed having freedom from outside schedules, if only for a bit of time.

Of course, when I got home I was immediately thrown into: phone calls, minor-“emergencies” (my husband had absconded with all keys), dishes, laundry, misbehaving children.

Still. I’d had some time away.

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