Isn't That Enough?

Six new inches of snow fell overnight,
and so I find myself
bundled against the subzero Minnesota temperatures,
shoveling and shoveling,
heaving piles of heavy fluff over the hedge and
into the yard.

I glare at the beautifully manicured sidewalks of neighbors,
scraped clean by
snow removal services,
snow blowers,
healthy husbands,
of which I have none.

The clean sidewalks seem to know and mock me for my deficiency in these categories,
every inch of them shining and snow-less,
while in front of my house,
I haphazardly scrape just enough of a path
so that dog walkers are no longer in danger.

I stop to catch my breath,
realizing that my extra-curricular activity of
visiting medical clinics instead of the gym
has left me in not-so-stellar shape,
and fight back the urge to drop my shovel to the ground and
bellow towards the sky,


You see,
it feels as though inoperable tumors in the throat should warrant free passes of some sort.

Your husband has cancer? Oh, well then you shouldn’t ever have to shovel again!
It’s inoperable? Well then, you will never again wake to find cat vomit on the stairs!
There’s no known protocol for how to proceed? The appliances in your home will never again malfunction!
The rate of survival for the radiation treatment he is likely to undergo is abysmal? Your pre-teen’s moods will be pleasant and predictable from now on.

there are moments when taking care of the tiny things in life,
dust on the shelves,
recycling bin full,
last Kleenex used,
can feel like a glorious conquering,
a moment in which a problem is presented, a solution is clear, and within moments
all is well.

something over which I have control,
something I can fix,
something whose outcome will not be life-changing.

But there are other moments,
such as today in the snow,
when it feels absolutely unjust and unthinkable that we,
dealing with inoperable tumors of the throat,
are also expected to deal with the things of this world.

If I was in charge,
I would put a Sleeping Beauty-like spell on all the things,
putting them to sleep around us,
leaving us to reside in a warm cocoon
where only things of comfort were allowed.

But in charge I am so obviously not,
and so
the grime on the tub,
the mold on the bread,
the ashes in the fireplace,
all seem to taunt me, saying,
”You don’t think we’re not going to show up
just because you have bigger problems to deal with,
do you?”

Maybe those things are trying to ground me during this time of upheaval, uncertainty, and sorrow,
to remind me that life goes on,
the earth continues to rotate,
the clocks go on ticking
even when dealing with
inoperable tumors of the throat.

Well, if that’s their goal,
it isn’t working.

In our world,
the clocks have stopped.

There was then,
the seasons of sweetness
and even the countless diagnoses, procedures, operations
that have come before,
there is now.

I am proud of us
for walking, mostly upright, through each day,
to appointment after appointment
with doctors who have no answers,
only grim statistics and furrowed brows and batons passed to colleagues in other departments.

Even now,
we continue to walk,
we continue to breathe,
we continue to parent our sweet girl,
we continue to love,
we continue to be.

Isn’t that enough?