While I stared at a giggling Stanford cardiologist twirling a wheeled office chair as he opined that I could take my heart medicine or not, as I determined, a nineteen-year-old with a legally purchased semi-automatic AR-15 massacred seventeen people in a Florida school.
I learned of the latest shootings while I rested at a Denny’s in Antioch, California. I had gotten within 35 miles of home and been unable to go another moment without a restroom and a hot cup of coffee. My son the writer told me about it. I asked how his day had been, knowing he’d been facing a deadline. Fine, except for yet another shooting. I asked what he meant, and he told me, while my coffee cooled and the eggs sat unnoticed in front of me.
I know suffering is not a competitition, but the doctor’s lack of clarity on the issue of whether or not I need the two medications prescribed by my Missouri cardiologist suddenly seemed inconsequential. (Do I need these drugs or not, I had asked. He shrugged. Maybe, maybe not. Today’s EKG is normal. I pried further, Because of the medicine or because nothing is wrong? Another shrug. I studied his face. One or the other, was the unsurprising response. )
But my heart still beats. My blood, thinned by Warfarin, rushes through my veins, flooding my limbs, feeding a brain which still crackles with electricity however imperfectly. The fluttering in my chest, unexplained and mysterious, still wakes me in the night.
And this: Unlike the sons and daughters lying in a morgue in Florida, my son still breathes at the other end of the telephone, in a one-bedroom walk-up in Evanston, Illinois.
So: Here’s the weather report in Isleton, California, at Park Delta Bay: Nothing about which to complain. Nada, zip, zilch.
It’s the fifteenth day of the fiftieth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.