My father-in-law has been hospitalized for a week. My mother-in-law stays in the hospital with him day and night, even though she is an insomniac and can’t sleep at all in the hospital. Peter is worried that this will drag her health down. I ask myself, what would I do if I were her? I think I would stay in the ward with my husband as well.
She has been with him since she was 19 years old. As she said to me herself that they are a pair of chopsticks, pretty useless without the other. I don’t know if Peter and I are chopsticks, but he’s definitely my lobster, less than three.
I appreciate very much Maira Kalman’s meditation on life in her book And the Pursuit of Happiness: “The question that we ask ourselves is, what protects you? What protects you in this world from sadness and from the loss of an ability to do something? For me, what protects me … is work and love. And I think that those two things cover pretty much every single thing. Because what you do, who you love, what you love, and what you do with your time is really the only question that you have to answer.”
My mother-in-law is answering this question by staying at the bedside of her husband of 62 years.
My thoughts went to Peter when I pondered my parents-in-law’s situation. I called him to ask if he could spare half an hour for lunch today. It so happened that he could. I quickly made a couple of veggie dogs and walked up the hill to meet him in the little park near the hospital. It was the best thing we did for each other in a long while. The sky was blue. The sun was balmy. We sat on the bench and watched moms pushing strollers and nannies playing with toddlers as we munched on our veggie dogs.
Author Annie Dillard wrote in her meditation on presence over productivity: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” We often fail at the art of presence and rush through our lives being constantly “productive.”
Thirty minutes in the sun. That was all Peter and I needed to feel rejuvenated, serene and happy. Why didn’t we do this more often? He is usually too busy. But one must make time for important things such as this.
Peter has a dinner meeting tonight, and the girls and I will eat a simple meatless meal with lots of vegetables, black bean pasta and baked yam.