In the Deep of Winter

Post Date: February 21st, 2015


The temperatures are below freezing and it is snowing again, as it does in the deep of winter. While welcome before Christmas, it is tiresome at the end of February.

She is petite with dyed brown hair covering every scintilla of silver. She is not particularly frail but does look aged, although not her full ninety years. Were she not in the hospital her nails would be topped in red.

Days that are brilliant with sunshine take the edge off. The snow-covered lawns reflect and multiply the light. Still, people escape to southern sunshine and warmth.

She came in the early-morning, subzero cold and now reclines on a bed in hospital attire. Having lived alone for the past fifteen years, she soaks up the nurse’s pampering. 

Later morning rising or afternoon naps are endemic to the season for those at home. Dreams while hibernating help soul seeds to root within the psyche.

The neuroma inside her brain is benign, grows slowly. But this year’s MRI shows an expansion more deeply into the brain, threatening to touch her brain stem. Surgery is not an option.

Working crossword puzzles, cleaning things long neglected, indoor exercise, and reading – both serious and silly – plait a retiree’s winter waking hours. Contemplation fills the spaces in between.

She comes back to the room with a heavy, metal apparatus attached to her head at the forehead and base of her skull. The bottom of the apparatus rings her neck. Despite pain medicine, she gets a headache from the impingement and weight of it.

Daylight starts sooner and lasts longer. A breath of hope amidst long-enduring patience.

Finally it is her turn for ninety minutes of treatment. The headgear attaches to the machine so that her head is perfectly stationary as radiation precisely permeates her tumor.

Plans for spring and summer begin to emerge, as anticipation grows for new signs of life from the soil.

Although the procedure had been explained several times, fear of the unknown weighed on her as heavily as the headgear. Once the treatment is over and the apparatus removed, she flitters about in utter relief.