Wednesday, July 13, 2005

After a week of dealing with news of a number of deaths and serious illnesses, I finally got to spend some time with Raphaella. I came out to sit on her stoop and noted that she was much quieter than usual. Her skin also was pale and and sickly-waxy looking. After much prodding on my part, she admitted that her doctor got some initial tests back and it looked like she had leukemia. She's going back for more tests tomorrow.

What could I do? I hugged her. She told me that she didn't know whether to cry or scream. I told her to both. And to keep talking. And keep letting me give her hugs.

She wanted to show me how one of her Easter lilies was blooming: 8 open flowers, 4 more buds; like gangbusters. We looked at her tomato plants, the cubanelles, the string beans who were climbing up the peach tree, the spaghetti squash (from the seeds she saved after deciding that she liked the fruit too much to be paying the extortionate money Shaws charges for it), other potherbs. I thanked her for the pepper and tomato plants she gave me, as well as the extra layer of dirt and peat that she placed over the rocky soil in my plot. Rosie, her daughter, came out to say hello and handed me a dish of spaghetti squash (simple but beautiful: only olive oil, salt, pepper and a smidge of jalapeno from last year's harvest) for dinner. Since it was late, I stayed only a few minutes more. Managed to get Raphaella laughing a bit, so was happy. It made her look not so tired, old, sickly.

Feeling sad as I was, I decided to self-medicate with more melancholy: listened to a voice that reminded me of home and looked at images of the alpine legs of Le Tour to get homesick over Grenoble. Eventually, I managed to fall asleep.

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