Sunday, August 15, 2010

For Pete's Sake

Our apartment houses seven people, wild to get home -- packing, messing, continuing day-to-day life and taking breaks to play. This afternoon four went swimming at Green Lake. I am taking breaks to be quiet, say goodbye and get to know my body without a double lumen line with blue claves hanging out of my chest above the right breast.
Since April, I've been getting off the elevator on the 6th floor and coming face to face with a photograph of two sailboats near colliding with the bold word "Persistence" printed at the bottom. I did not learn persistence by staring at the word but by living it. I had a similar experience when I paddled to Cape Horn. "Love One Another" was written on the bow of my canoe. I didn't learn to love one another by reading the words for 16 million paddle strokes. I learned to love one another because love was demonstrated to me in 23 countries over 33 months.
What words to live by greet residents on other floors? With paper and pencil, I pushed the button for all floors in the elevator to find out. Those living on floor five see "communication. Floor four neighbors come face-to-face with "integrity." "Challenge" welcomes residents on three. "Working together" affirms those disembarking the elevator on floor 2. Whatever the decor and code words of encouragement, I have learned from living with neighbors -- six floors of bone marrow transplant patients, care givers, family and friends. How did any of us have the energy and grace to hold open the door for the other, say "you go first" or smile and wait in the elevator while our six kids straggled in. I thank God that by the time we moved to the Pete Gross House pushing bottons in the elevator was no longer a novelty to fight for. As a bone marrow patient, I know that by the time I get to the elevator, I need floor six so that I can get in room 603, find my bed and lay my body down.

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