Remembering, The Task of a Writer
At the hospital, time flows differently.
It moves slowly during long stretches of waiting for something to happen. Then, all of a sudden, everything happens at once. The nurse arrives for a blood pressure check, someone comes in to draw blood, a technician arrives to cart the patient off for a X-ray.
The patient is my 92-year-old mother, and this is our second foray to the ER in two days, for cellulitis, compounded by a fall which resulted in a hairline hip fracture.
The ER, the hospital, and the world of medicine is a foreign environment to me. We are not a family of doctors or nurses. For the most part, we tend to be wonderfully healthy. So this is a new world for me, one I don't always understand. I try to keep my eyes open and my attention focused so that I can remember.
Remember what the doctor says so that I can tell my family.
Remember the details of the experience in case I want to write them.
Remember because it seems important. Through remembering, we exist.
Remembering is the writer's way of staying present. By noting the details, committing them to memory in my head or on the page, I'm here now. I'm not worrying about calling a client or whether or not I'll be able to get to Nashville.
Remembering is one of the most important tasks of the writer.
Remember, because to not remember dishonors our present. Remember because others–like my mother–cannot. Remember because it is important to bear witness. And sometimes bearing witness is all we've got.
It is enough. It is more than enough.
Update: After hip surgery and several days in the hospital, we got my Mom into a nursing home this morning. She'll be there doing short-term rehab for the next couple of weeks. After that, its anybody's guess….but we're hoping to find her a nice adult foster care placement.