While it was still dark out on Sunday morning I sleepily crept into the old, no-air-conditioning volvo we have and started down the long highway to my brother and Alison's house in Beaufort, South Carolina. I hadn't watched the sun come up in a while... and it was beautiful. Conditions were foggy, so you could actually look directly at it to see the full round shape, like a cutout of faded yellow paper. The road was smooth and relaxing before it got too hot and I had to roll the windows down.
The drive was good. Driving a long distance by yourself is a gift, really. It gives you plenty of time to think and rethink and get to some conclusions on things that have been side-stepped in the hustle of everyday life. You finally have the time to just sit and zone out into your own head. Another thing... I always think about all the people who I love in my life and cherish them that much more on a long drive. Being alone for two seconds lets that surface more easily.
After all the thinking was thunk, I caught myself singing as loud as I could to my favorite tunes. Belting it out and dancing in my seat, head like a bobber on the water. It takes a while for that to come out, but it always does eventually... creeping up from out of nowhere.
When I arrived at Tom's I was tired and filthy from all the road grime that comes with having the windows down for 12 hours straight. And deaf. I couldn't hear a damn thing due to the wind. I slept well that first night.
The next morning Alison started chemo. She felt afraid and you could see it on her face... scared of the pain. But I think she was a little comforted by the people who love her being there (her sister Heather is also here) and encouraging her. After we said our goodbyes and good lucks, Heather and I scrubbed the house from top to bottom and did the laundry. Just a small way we could help...something we could do while Alison went through that. Hours later she and Tom returned from the hospital, and she was okay. She had done very well and had been strong. (I'm so proud of you, Ali!)
That evening Tom and I took the boat out and went shrimping. He taught me how to cast the net out, holding the rope in my left hand while gripping one side of the net in my teeth and flinging the other side out like a huge frisbee with my right hand. Twisting and throwing it hard across the water. Took a few tries, but I got it. We caught quite a few of those insects of the sea, leaving them in the bucket on the way home and eating them, peel-n-eat style, an hour later. Ice cold beer and shrimp. Yum.
It was wonderful to be on the water. So beautiful. It lets you forget about all your problems for a few seconds... Muck covering your toes, salty air in your nose, sweat on your brows. You feel whole and alive.
Tom is doing an excellent job taking care of Alison. You can see how much he loves her in every straw he places in her watermelon gatorade, in every pillow he props up for her, in every quick run to the drug-store to fill a prescription. It's more beautiful to watch than the water, and I'm happy to be here for it.