Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Called back

Mr Laurent. Mr Laurent. Mr Laurent.
With three cool fingers pressed on
the back of my hand, I heard a calm
feminine voice calling to me, and
awakened to see my young Swedish-born,
Brown University-educated, New York
residencied internist standing at my 
side as I emerged from surgery in my 
hospital room in Virginia. I have con- 
fided that she is beautiful, I have 
tried to show that we can not give 
up the balsam of that reality in any-
thing. My belief had told me, she
would be there, but to come back from
unconsciousness in this way is to feel
repair in its greatest depth.

My last words to her, via telephone before my peripheral arterial by-pass operation, were that it was undeniably certain that she had saved my life. This was a race against time, wringing tighter every day. I remember, at our first visit, how her quiet I just wish we knew what is causing this gave me complete confidence in her care. And, within hours, leapfrogging whole protocols of other tests, she had me in the painstaking hands of interventional radiologists who immediately passed me into surgery, with as exhaustive a map of an arterial system as has ever been drawn.

I was extremely unwell, without knowing it except in incidental pains and odd discolourations. And although this surgery was a godsend, it delivered me rather only to a new life of self-repair in ways of living - with which I am eager to get started. I have a great project, which perhaps I had lacked, and the experience gathered that perspective in myriad small enormous ways. A youngster whose tumblr I warmly admire posted a superb portrait of Eliot on the same day, with the most exquisitely apposite quotation from East Coker, rinsing me in that lifelong relationship ~
To arrive where you are, 
to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way 

wherein there is no ecstasy.

But, always, some France. I had a note from a young mother of two, distracted by her husband and son, inventing mathematics and lunch down the hall, by her daughter practicing ballet in the adjoining sitting room; and one could not but see her as the solar center of an antic vitality, which I find handsomely verified in her garden in the Touraine.

Cascades of signals of actual loveliness compete, in any recovery space, with breath-shortening pain and mind blunt-ing medications. Studying alternative versions of Dylan's Tom Thumb's Blues one afternoon, I was interrupted by a visit from my presiding surgeon, a guy about my age. I told him, Here, you gotta borrow this, there's more to it than we thought. As in Kerouac's sad Big Sur and in Eliot's most caustically bitter imagery, there is the great beauty of the caring human voice, confessing to its default condition of love. Mr Laurent. Mr Laurent. Mr Laurent.

T. S. Eliot
The Four Quartets
Mariner Books, 1968©

Bob Dylan
No Direction Home
Film sound track
Martin Scorsese, director
PBS, 2005©

iii  Matthias Lauridsen

iv   Private source

v    Derek


  1. oh dear...this is not a dress rehearsal.
    i suppose someone will collect the mail.
    please do.
    then more rest.

  2. Thank you for the disclosure. It makes greater sense now. Do be mindful of states of mind: it's is not at all unusual for have a dip after an invasive heart procedure. I saw it in my own father, and then, interestingly, heard it discussed on Charlie Rose one night (he had the same operation). Doesn't mean you will, but if you do, there are things you can do about it. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  3. Dear Beth, yes it is apparent that this event is less consequential than admonitory, but all toward being happier as I see it, in every way. Thank you for your stabilising suggestion -- but, by the way, if there is not more clutter in my mailbox now, I shall know whom to blame ... :)

  4. Oh -- get well, do what you need to do to get well!! !! Take care!!

  5. Maître, I'm not sure what this posting clarifies, but I'm glad it has such an effect. Tthere can be no doubt that without Laurent this occasion would be more fraught with such risks than it inherently is. Put another way, faced with the notion of simply abandoning Laurent and yielding to darker common sense, I found myself realising I had created him to sustain things with me, to verify real qualities on which one could draw; and his existence makes it clearer than ever what my response to this event must be. He happens to be right about this, not naïve.

    This recovery will be long and not, even as to its still unsealed wounds, speedy. It is also not easy, and not without its evidence of setbacks, even in its first days; but I will not be writing about it with such frequency. Laurent will not be defined by this.

    Thank you for your supportive thoughts.

  6. Linnea, thank you for the advice. I am rather a slouch at such things and now would be a good time to take a different tack.

    1. Who isn't? Imagine, the medical student running around too much and eating scraps of bread, getting a vitamin deficiency, mostly from not taking time to eat properly (and use my mind a little). So I shouldn't say a word ....

      But yes, focus on wellbeing might be relevant:)

  7. One more caring human voice to be heard: we are all thankful for your precious life! Thank you for your courageous exposure. You pass along so much beauty and are proving it to be truth. I know it will come bouncing back to you and help you recover well.

  8. Mr Laurent, Mr Laurent, Mr Laurent, welcome back, indeed. I'm so glad. I wish you strength!

  9. Dear Gésbi, I almost could not accept your generous comment if it were not openly revealed in so many aspects of your beautiful work. If you enjoy my passing along of things I sincerely hope you can sometimes find an echo of how you see and feel.

  10. Dear BL, your own work was much in my mind as a precedent when asking myself if I should allow this information to emerge. But as it became unexpectedly larger and obviously less a kind of complaint, I realised (and I can only hope, correctly), that the event only sharpened one's sense of attachment to certain things which is at the bottom of any blog. And, yes, I was enormously aided in this invigoration of tendencies, by the care I was being given from the nature of other people. So I indict you now, for conspiring in Laurent's vitality.

  11. Only you. To undergo such an encounter with the self, to elucidate it in your trademark style.

    All good wishes for health and healing. All good.

  12. Dear David, I'm glad that you could have come by today to let me bask for a few moments in the character of being a stylist. If anything, a styling is like a slipping away around here -- but plainly that would be good for its practice here. I hope you will stay close.