I had planned to call this post Summer. It’s in the mid-80’s in Mora and the sun is sharp and strong. In the heat of the day I stay in the Tin Can, covering the windows, running the AC and waiting for evening.
There’s always a sacred second when we take down the curtains and let the beauty in. Then I drink crisp white wine on the deck and wander around in a robe and gown letting the breeze swirl my nightclothes. It feels like a spa treatment or like slipping into the ocean in Hawaii. We eat dinner at our tiny table as the sky turns pink. We fall asleep surrounded by stars, cooled by the pine scented breezes drifting through the screen door.
On June 21st Shannon from the New Mexico Forestry Division pronounced our trees healthy. We lost one, maybe two, to the bark beetles, but the rest of our trees are strong enough to repel or survive a beetle attract. Some have been damaged by porcupines, who climb to the tips of branches to chew off the fresh bark. The image this created in my mind was so cute I could hardly blame them. We talked about shade trees with Shannon and she offered to come by in the fall and assist us with planting a few.
On June 28th Jason and I woke up in Santa Fe on our 57th birthday.
On July 6th we went to Fort Union. We packed drinks and snacks and set out early to explore the ruins before it became too hot. It was too hot anyway. At one point I ran the 1/4 mile back to the visitors center to refill Lucky’s water bottle. I was wearing Ked’s and a hiking skirt. I felt wild and free running (flying!) over the soft dirt path, past the adobe ruins with the sun beating down on my straw hat.
On July 8th just before 8:00 am, Jason had a stroke.
We were talking about the appropriate Buddhist response to injustice. I had the iPad and was reading to Jason quotes from Dr. King, Thich Nhat Hanh and Ghandi. He was dressed and finishing his coffee. I was still in my nightgown, but thinking about getting up and getting on the treadmill. My running had been going well. Despite the sadness, unfairness and violence in the world I have to admit we were happy. We were planning to go to Taos that afternoon to have Jason’s plans for the house copied. We wanted to get the building permit before we left for our trip to the Bay Area. The mood was a bit celebratory. We were already flirting and looking forward to the night.
Jason said something loud and unintelligible. I heard a crash at almost the same time and in the second it took to look up he was on the floor. He was conscious and trying to reach his phone. I grabbed mine and called 911. He was flopping on the floor, half trapped by the bed. What was happening was obvious. “What is the nature of your emergency?” “My husband is having a stroke.”
Mora’s ambulance was in use. An ambulance would be sent from Las Vegas – forty miles away. I said, “He’ll die by then. I’m putting him in the car.” The voice said, “Meet the ambulance on 518.” Jason, still writhing on the floor, said “Get dressed first.” I put on the first clothes I touched, yelling at Jason to smile and raise his arms. As if these tests to see if someone is having a stroke will help someone who is actually in the midst of one.
Jason’s right side was useless. He crawled with one arm, one knee, one foot. I dragged him by his arm, tugged him by his belt, and somehow we were outside. He told me to bring the car closer. I drove closer to the gate, but the distance still seemed endless. Lucky had gotten out and was patrolling the chucho holes like he did every morning. He looked confused when I screamed for him to get in the car. He did it, but he was shaking and seemed terrified. Jason crawled through the dirt. For a second it seemed impossible that he would get into the car. He was twisted and half under it. I couldn’t lift him. I looked around thinking someone could help, but there was nothing but blue sky. Somehow most of Jason did get into the car. I shoved his right foot in, slammed the door and took off.
When I saw the ambulance I mashed the horn wildly. They pulled over and a man walked toward me smiling and snapping on rubber gloves. He made some stupid joke and asked if Jason worked for me. The question confused me. Yeah, he’s been working his ass off for me for for 25 years. I managed to say, “He’s my husband.”
Jason was taken to Alta Vista hospital in Las Vegas and treated there before being airlifted to UNM in Albuquerque. That’s where he is now.
On Friday night one of the doctors showed me Jason’s CT scan and explained which areas of the brain have been affected. Only the areas dedicated to speech and motor control were impacted and it’s too soon to say how much of the damage is permanent. Jason’s intellect, personality, memory and vision haven’t been damaged. He’s still very much himself. He’s hoping to be recovered enough by August to work in the Bay Area that month.
Jason and I took a chance living in a remote area and saw the nightmare come true before the dream. I have a lot of questions about Jason’s risk factors for another stroke. At this time I don’t think he can go back to Mora and I’m looking at rentals in Albuquerque. It’s too soon to say if both of us will be confident enough about his health to live in Mora full time again. I don’t know if the beautiful house Jason designed will ever be built. So, for now, this is the end of the blog. Thanks for following our adventure. The months I spent living in the Tin Can were wonderfully happy. I wish this story had a better ending, but I’m very much aware that the ending could have been a lot worse.