Call from Hospice, July
I am up north hiking once again, trying hard, as a party of one, to hike the complete Superior Hiking Trail, which is rated as one of the top ten hiking trails in the country. My plan is to finish the Superior Hiking Trail sometime this year. I rented a small cabin in the area for a few weeks in July and August, with trips back to Minneapolis to see Barry and teach some classes.
I hiked today about four hours, going two hours in from Cascade River State Park toward the Caribou Trail. As I hiked, I thought about the class I teach to adults who want to write and illustrate a picture book. It was a glorious day and this trail was a challenge. At one point, the trail ascended and I thought I would never get to the top. I really don’t mind going up; it’s the going down I don’t like on my 62-year- old knees. As usual along the way, I looked for edible mushrooms. Yesterday, I found some chanterelles that ended up sautéed and in my eggs.
In addition to hiking, I am writing a book about this journey Barry and I are on with FTD. But I have to admit that I am hiking more than writing at this point. Right now hiking and writing are the only plans I have as I wait to see what comes next.
As I admired the gorgeous view from the trail, my phone rang. I was surprised to get a signal. I struggled to find my phone in my backpack, but by the time I did, the call went to voice mail. Whenever my phone rings, I worry that the call is about Barry. I could barely hear the message from the Hospice nurse. My heart stopped. Was Barry dead? I played it again.
But it was the same message as always: Barry was visited by the nurse. He was in bed and tried to talk. No change and to call if I had any questions. I was surprised by how panicky I felt when I could not clearly hear the message. I am waiting for the call that Barry has died. It’s a call I know is coming, but I still felt very nervous listening to the message.
I hadn’t really been thinking about Barry at all on this hike. But now as I looked down the huge cliff, guilt overcame me again as I imagined Barry back at the care center while I hiked on this beautiful day. In any event, I hiked on, going higher and longer as I tried to put that call behind me. But I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I hiked down (painfully), drove back to the little rented cabin and got to work. If I am going to be away for a couple of weeks while Barry lies waiting in the care center, I better damn produce something. And that is exactly what I did on this beautiful July day.