Okay, so the week in review:
We are close to the end of semester, and as of Monday of last week, I foresaw a final week of class, some grading, two hooding ceremonies for graduate students — and then, on May 15, Everything Would Change. My full-time career at KU would end, and (as soon as my last three defenses are finished some time this summer) KU would sink down to being just one of the several things I do to pay bills for the next couple of years. I would spend the summer teaching workshops for adult learners; I would spend the fall supporting the collection and writing, also a master class and some appearances; I would spend the holiday season at writing residencies.
And that’s all still true. But ALSO.
On Monday night, my 88yo mother fell and broke her hip. I found out Tuesday morning and freaked out; I had been looking forward to (if “looking forward to” is the correct term) doing laundry, meeting with students, prepping my final class, and catching up on the workshop preparation. Packing the car to drive up to Rice Lake consisted of texting Chris and Lauren to ask them to housesit and throwing a basket of dirty laundry and two pillows into the car with my (unexamined) laptop bag. It’s a ten-hour drive, so I was still on the way when Rich was able to get to the hospital and support her through the surgery. The surgeons did some arcane magic with metal plates, but it wasn’t a replacement. She was in the hospital until Friday and is now in short-term rehab in Eau Claire. She’s recovering as quickly as anyone her age could: Mom is a tough cookie — which must be written on her medical reports, because every RN and PA says those exact words when they meet her. Not sure when she’s coming home, but it could be as soon as a couple of weeks.
In some ways, this has been the most exhausting week of my life, even though I have spent most of it sitting: in cars, in mom’s room, working things out with my brother. Until the last couple of days, I was barely able to check my email, let alone think about all those things that have to be done even if Mom has broken her hip. By now I am operating at about half efficiency (and what an improvement that is!) but only for a few hours a day. Because of my haphazard packing, I don’t have the materials I need to finish grading — or, in fact, a hairbrush. My academic regalia is stuck at the alterations place. There are online orders coming in. I was just starting to binge the Eleventh Doctor. I was supposed to start an online bookstore with Lauren.
And yet, the world marches on. I have workshops to plan and run, appearances to arrange, class to wrap up; correspondence and drycleaning and plane tickets and bills and all the rest. I have friends I want to have dinner with, or lunch. I want to read more than four pages of a book at a time. I want my cat. I want my scooter. I want to get back to research. I want to write. I want to sort my closet. I want to be able to wear a teeshirt that doesn’t have WHISKEY WILL DO printed on the front.
Still, I am deeply grateful. It all could have been so much worse. Richard is a rock. Mom is still herself. I have friends. My car is reliable. The sun still rises, and sets, and the coots still collect at night on Rice Lake, a shadowy floating island that murmurs to itself until it sleeps.