We meet in the tree house a short walk in the woods. He takes out his knife, whittled out of wood. I show him my doll and the dress I’d sewn, gathered at the waist. We smile at our creations, lie on our backs, and stare at the clouds. “It’s a hunting knife,” he says. “This is the kind of weapon I’ll need if I ever get lost in the jungle.”
over the jar—
Dr. Brown is serious. He does not make small talk or say something funny to put us at ease. The man is all business. It is late in the day; he must want to go home. Mark Brown is the foremost authority in his field which is understanding neuromuscular diseases that cannot be cured. He never gets the chance to say you will feel better in a few weeks and he doesn’t believe in giving someone false hopes.
The doctor looks at my wife and tells her the illness is already in every muscle in her body and quickly dashes the slim hopes and questions raised at the four other hospitals. Outside the glass, it is starting to get dark. Dr. Brown says my wife will be in a wheelchair within ten years and I see her wilt like a petal in the cold. He says her variant of Spinal Muscular Atrophy will progress at a slow steady rate like a freight train across a prairie. Mark Brown urges us to take that trip we always wanted to make and we are numb to his words, immune to them, his words cannot shake us.
It is dark now and our children are two hours away. Friends are watching them. They need to finish their homework, go to sleep, tomorrow is a school day. We need to move on, get behind the wheel and look somewhere else for a time.
all of the prayers
all at once