In the past couple of days I've been between sick friends, and happy children. Visiting a psychiatric hospital, and making birthday cakes for an eight year old. Sharing coffee with an ailing friend whose speach is slower and slower, her thoughts more and more fleeting, then lunching at a restaurant with a pair of eager and delighted little boys, drawing pictures on their place mats and eagerly dipping their fries in ketchup (well, the American one did, the French one stayed with the more continental choice of a sprinkle of salt).
I see the effects of anti-depressants on an otherwise ambitious powerhouse, felled by the loss of a most dearly-loved father figure and unable to maintain the ferocious pace he'd set himself. Suddenly, where before there was wit, speed, intensity, forward movement, now there is hesitation, and an otherness to his voice. How to reorient himself? His business? His life?
And I see the joy and eagerness in a little boy's eyes as he discovers his new animal cards and commences memorizing the weight, speed, age, locale and more of this new set of visuals.
I listen most carefully and fill in the blanks as my tumor-fighting friend shares memories, discusses her marriage, bread, cheese, living the agricultural life.
I am charmed by a helpful teen who problem-solves his way to helping me build a bicycle shed.
My bookshelf is held together by hope, youth, joy, expectations at one end and weariness, illness, fear, collapse, slow decay at the other.
Life is layered in so many ways. Joy comes in so many packages. The eyes of a sad man lighten when he sees a friend who has traveled far to see him. He is gracious and attentive to his fellow residents, none of whom have his mastery of language, nor his style in a cashmere coat. Two little boys playing hide and seek in the goat barn, setting up their cars' highway on the big table of the oil mill. They zoom, the turn, they live in their own bubble. And upstairs, a woman is proudly making a tart, something she used to do so easily, but which now marks an accomplishment of note. Her husband is there to care for her, but she still contributes to their meal. There is still much to give and share.