Saturday, February 23, 2008

Melting ice, freezing heart

After days of cold and snow, snow and cold, and cold or snow, there was a partial thaw last Sunday. At this point, the ground is so saturated that the melting snow and ice run off into the street or pools on the grass. Now that it's cold again, the park reflects the odd gold of the streetlights at night.

By Sunday morning, so much water had run onto the north end of South Shore Drive that it had reached the hubcaps of a half-dozen cars parked in the lowest area.

When I looked out, I spotted a person (gender unseen) in knee-high boots, stabbing at the water between cars, occasionally making mopping or sweeping motions toward the park edge. This person worked hard at this for a half hour or more, as though he or she were trying to clear hidden, randomly placed drains, poke drainage holes in the pavement, and sweep the water back into the park, whence melting water was still flowing onto the street.

From an outsider's perspective, it was a Sisyphean task—perhaps the perfect metaphor for my life and the state of my mind. It was painful to watch, yet compelling in an inexplicable way.

Last Saturday, I took Hodge to the veterinary clinic for urine testing (crystals). I had decided to leave him for a few days because I needed to take a break from taking care of him, and I needed to be alone—completely alone—with my thoughts. I told the veterinarian that I would like to leave him until Tuesday evening, and she looked at me oddly and said, "You'll call Monday evening to let us know when you're picking him up?" She looked as though she thought it likely I would never return. No matter how I feel, though, a sense of responsibility wins out, which is why I am still here.

As she started to turn away with him to take him to the back, he reached out to me with both front feet and pawed my chest. The veterinarian told him, "Now, now, Mommy can't save you."

She couldn't have known that Mommy's under enough stress saving herself.

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