Saturday, January 30, 2016

What Came Next

The Salish tribes have been there for thousands of years it is said.  In 1792, explorer George Vancouver felt deceived thinking Whidbey Island was a peninsula.  It was an island. The name Deception Pass was born. Over the years, the area has seen illegal Chinese immigrants thrown overboard while tied up in burlap bags.  It has seen convicted murderers cut rock that was then sent to the Seattle waterfront. In 1935, the pass between Whidbey Island and nearby Fidalgo Island was connected by a bridge. The Daughters of the American Revolution unveiled a stone mounted plaque at the opening ceremony of the Deception Pass Bridge.  The plaque is located partway across the bridge on a small island named Pass Island. 

 “Ray! Hurry up and git over here.  We’re goin’ to take a picture.”

I would bet actual dollars that Nanny barked something similar to that at Papa right before this picture was taken. 


I don’t know exactly what year that picture was taken at the Pass Island rock and plaque.  I don’t know why they were there. I don’t know how they got there or who they were with. I don’t know why she’s standing close to the rock and he’s standing farther away.   I only know what came next.

I know how the rest of their many years were filled with life.  I know the family they had surrounding them.  I know about the good stuff.  I know about the bad stuff. I know about the really bad stuff.  Looking back, at the big picture, none of the details about that day mattered much.  What really seems to have mattered is what came next.   No matter what life threw at them, by God, they just kept on going.   That’s what I see when I look at that picture.

“Drew!  Hurry up and get over here.  We’re going to take a picture.”

I would bet actual dollars my daughter said that to my son right before this picture was taken. 


I do know what year that picture was taken, decades after Nanny and Papa's picture, and I do know why we were there.  I know why he’s wearing the monster truck shirt and why he was grabbing on to her arm. I remember being terrified walking partway across the bridge, 185 feet above the water, the cars whizzing by so close I could have touched them.  I held the boy’s hand so tightly I could have crushed his tiny bones.

I also know what came next--after the picture was taken. I know about the good stuff.  I know about the bad stuff.  I know about the really bad stuff.  All of it, of course, as their mother, seemed to matter a great deal…at the time.  But yet, looking back at the big picture, none of the details about that day seem to matter much.  What really matters is that, thank God, those kids have been able to keep on going. That’s what I see when I look at that picture.

When photographer Lisa Dills first posted this picture of Deception Pass she mentioned that she had missed the actual sunset under the bridge but managed to capture some boat activity just shortly afterwards. 

I suppose you can’t see the full sunset in this picture. But you can see what came next.  

You can’t see the Salish tribes, George Vancouver, the Chinese immigrants or the rock chopping prisoners in that picture.   But they are all there. You can’t see Nanny and Papa in Lisa’s picture.  But they are there.  You can’t see me and the boy, terrified, up on that bridge.  But we are there.  You can’t see the thousands of people who have posed at the plaque in that picture.  You can’t see their stories.  But they are all there.  

No, you can’t see any of those things in that picture. 

But I do. I see all of that and more.

I see what came next.

Check This Out!

Please go take a look at some of the other pictures Lisa Dills has taken.  She is a phenomenal photographer.  You won't be sorry.

Here's a short little video of Deception Pass.   Watch it and I guarantee you'll say, "Wow!  That place is sure is pretty."  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Weigh In

It took mere seconds for me to stand on the scale.  I had to take my coat and my sweatshirt and my hat off, of course.  And my shoes.  I had to drop my purse and grocery bag full of crossword puzzle books and magazines.  Oh, and my sunglasses and my water bottle too.  I blew out all of my heavy breath.  I looked forward to the number for the first time in a long time.

“Mrs. Smith, you have lost another two pounds.  Are you having trouble eating?” the nurse asked me.

“Well, the chemo has taken my taste buds so eating is a miserable experience.  My husband did buy me a Dairy Queen Chocolate Xtreme Blizzard last week. I could taste that. ”

That’s what I said to the nurse.  What I said to myself, in my head, was, “Holy heck, YES!   I haven’t weighed this in 5 years.  Finally, something good about having cancer.”

I didn’t tell her I couldn't finish that Blizzard.  She never asked.  I was young.  I had weight to spare. She knew I’d live until the next weigh in.

“Mrs. Evans, I need you to take your coat off.”

“But I’m cold.”

The nurse pursed her lips and lowered her head.  “Mrs. Evans, it is very warm inside.  You will not need your coat.”

Mrs. Evans stared at the nurse, frowned and took her coat off.

“Mrs. Evans, I need you to take your other coat off.”

Mrs. Evans stared at the nurse, again, in defiance.   After a pause, she took her other coat off.

“Mrs. Evans, you’re gonna have to take that big sweater off.”

Mrs. Evans took a deep breath and declared for the whole chemotherapy infusion room to hear, “My DAUGHTER gave me this sweater.  It’s from the Peruvian Andes.  It’s very lightweight.”

The nurse raised her eyebrows. “Mrs. Evans, it is a very nice but a very heavy sweater.  You need to take it off, just like last time. I need to get an accurate weight."

Mrs. Evans’ eyes were desperate.
Her eyes considered pleading. 
Her eyes tried to tell that nurse she wouldn’t do it. 
Her eyes dimmed and gave up. 

Mrs. Evans’ shoulders slumped. Mrs. Evans took her sweater off and she stepped on the scale.

“Have you been eating Mrs. Evans?  You’ve lost 4 more pounds this week. I’ll have to mention this to the doctor.”

“My son brought me a Snickers! “ Mrs. Evans proudly announced. “One of those King  Size ones!”

“Did you eat it?” the nurse asked.

Mrs. Evans stared at the nurse.  The nurse stared back. The room was full of loud silence.

Mrs. Evans stepped off the scale.  She grabbed her coat, her other coat, her sweater, her laptop computer, her iPhone, her purse and her stainless steel water bottle and turned toward the nurse.  And as the nurse led frail Mrs. Evans away to her chemotherapy chair, Mrs. Evans muttered quietly, “I tried to eat it.”

Mrs. Evans was in the chair next to me. We both had needles plugged into our chests.  We both had poison dripping in. We both had lost weight.  I finally fit into my skinny jeans, thank goodness.  Mrs. Evans’ pants were hanging loose.  Mrs. Evans was weak.  She needed that Peruvian sweater to stay warm.  I worried about Mrs. Evans.  She looked like she was dying.

Mrs. Evans pulled out her laptop and kept her iPhone close by.  Mrs. Evans told me she had to finish grading papers.  She was a professor at the local community college.  She had been teaching for 37 years.  She started teaching before she had even finished her Ph.D.  It was her first job and she never left.  She loved the students.

I pulled out my magazine.  I read about the rich and famous.  I looked at the pictures of the pretty and super skinny stars.  They looked great.  Apparently, eating low carb is the latest craze.  All the famous people are doing it.  

It’s the best way to lose weight.