The ms contin tablets counted twice, first by the nurse, then by me, we march them in to the bathroom, wrap them in toilet paper, and flush.  We have to watch them go…all the way round and round, ….yup…all gone.   Sign on the dotted line…..for a moment my mind flees…

The  approximate street value of our morning flush at ten bucks a piece,  is in the thousands……. maybe a career as a kindly middle-aged  smiling drug dealer who tends the elderly,  appropriates  their meds upon their death, then uses the cash for social projects….feeding the hungry,  homing the homeless,  preventing teen pregnancy’s,  free childcare,  funding a health clinic….maybe that is in my future……Granny Robinhood.

Naw…I can’t even speed… never mind break a real law….shit … sometimes I wish I could be more of a rebel than choosing  a loud purple OPI nail color for my toes…

I take all the medical debris to the trash…then my usual detour to the bay. The concrete slabs are warm, the sun just up, and the largest slab that  tilts into the water is a favorite seat. I lay back,

corpse pose…. ah there it is …the death humor…….

I feel the warmth of the man-made stone enter me…the memory washes over me… another rock, another time, another place…

“So…” I queried, “They are over there?”

The ranger nodded over her shoulder towards the slight rise in the landscape across the lake.

The  blackened tumbled rocks,  an erratic darkened pile from a giants game of dominos,   jumbled and scattered,  seemingly  forgotten. Patagonia Lake State Park, south of Tucson, north of Nogales…  A secret place, a serious oasis in the Sonoran Desert.

 “Yes,  there are Petroglyphs”.

Petroglyphs. Just the word conjured mysterious tales of a forgotten ancient peoples.

The park ranger gave no further information. 

Always haunted by stories….Apache Girls going on  puberty driven vision quests, looking for spirit guides,  the seeking,  the hunting,  the journey’s that always end in the biggest discovery, that of ones self,  ones place. 

I find the trail, merely a barely noticable change in the desert floor, a change in the  texture of the dust, rocks brushed aside, kept my attention downwards for most of the journey. It was longer then expected, first round the end, across the river, through the cow pie mine field, then start the ascent to the rocky goal,  the blooming ocotillo arms applauding my courage..I take deep imaginary bows with my breaths…

At first I couldn’t find them. Then I sat, laid back upon a big flat warm stone and closed my eyes.

I heard my breath, my heart beat, felt them quiet and fall away.

I don’t know how long I laid there, but when I opened my eyes, the sun had shifted, and there just to my right was a human form carved into the stone, a thin limbed great swollen body human form. I turned onto my side, and traced the outline of this human stick figure with my finger. Then I saw another and another, and with each I traced I seemed to see even more and more, more than I could have ever reached even if I had more than just this day.

Some were animal forms, horned beasts, some geometric, grids, and the ones that held me most the spirals, the open-ended spirals that some say are maps marking water, and some say are marks of migration. What ever their meaning they are markers, written for purpose, written for reason, written to last,  written to be seen,  written to witness, to mark, they are markers. I see them, I hear the Red Tailed Hawk’s cry, the horned sheep stand watching beyond the hill.  I am filled.

 Haunting, numerous, I still see them as I lay on this warm concrete slab eyes closed.

I have been on an inward spiral on this journey.

My territory, my communications, my senses, slowly spiraled inward getting smaller and smaller  fewer and fewer. I saw nurses, and  aids and well wishing neighbors, with prehaps weekly quick runs to the grocery. But little else.  Like the spirals in Patagonia I saw long ago my physical territory  spiralled inward, limited, confined, restrained to within the park, within the trailer, within the family room, within Hilda’s proximity. 

I walk back to the trailer, part of my task complete. The spiral as turned, and my sphere is opening wider and wider. My journey now is  starting to spiral outwards, gathering back what I left, leaving what I now know to be of no use.  Like the petroglyphs in Patagonia, there will be markers for me to follow.

It’s the sounds I notice first, the talking of crowds, the honking of cars, the radios at stop lights blasting.  It is conversations with laughter, bright colors, restaurant banter, cocktail smiles. Each startles, each shows what I have missed, what I used to not notice, now alway see.  Girls walking along the road,  g-string above their jeans, I laugh, …showing your underwear to strangers it wasn’t exactly the marker I was looking for. 

This marker laughter…

I get the first absolutely alone time I have had in over a month. I run a hot bath, soak, the water cools, I drain it and run another. Such luxury I used to take for granted, never again.

This marker  gratitude…

This marker solitude…

 My crackberry buzzes, a message, a text- an email- a voice mail. I smile at the possibility  of communication with the outside.  I am laughing reaching for a towel wipe my hands hurry quick who could it be!

This marker  possibility!

I feel bad when I have to relate the circumstances of the day, ….my mother in law passed away,  I text.

Oh sorry, the reply.

Do not be sorry, it is ok, we did well.  I am so glad to hear from you, its alright.

This marker friendship.

I want to say,  I am spiralling out now, can you see/ Can you see the path opening, clearing widening?

My younger self found the marks in stone, saw the horned sheep, the flight of Red Tailed Hawks. She traced the signs, and made them her own and noted…. the walk back always seems a shorter one than the one you took to arrive.

My return  will be a shorter one, a text-  a voice mail-an email are welcome,  they have become markers for me to follow…I am ready.


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Filed under Bone Cancer, Children, Death, Elder Care, Family, Griff, Hilda, Hospice, Life, motherhood, Multiple System Atrophy, My Husband's Parents, Sandwich generation, Shy Drager Syndrome, Story Telling, True Life, Writing

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