Thursday, August 17, 2006

Day -6 (Wednesday): Time for your letters

Your “letters” are simply amazing, and wonderful! And plentiful: we asked for 130, one for each day we’ll be here in Houston, but so far there are something like 160, and more keep coming. Thank you so much!

In fact, so far we’ve opened five envelopes! There were three that Diane had labeled “1,” and two that she’d assigned to “2.” Each has been different from the others.

The first was from honoria, a mail artist, author of the first cyberspace opera (honoria in ciberspazio, which was itself a mail art project),  former graduate student (mail art was the subject of her dissertation), and staffer at the at what was then the Institute for Technology and Learning (now the Accessibility Institute). Of course she sent a piece of mail art: a beautiful hand-painted card of intensely red poppies done in homage to the 19th-century American painter Arthur G. Dove.

The second envelope numbered “1” was from Elke and David, two friends from BodyChoir—David has created a land trust to preserve Jacob’s Well, a deep, spring-fed pool about 30 miles from Austin, and to restore the lands around it; Elke has been providing excellent advice on nutritional supplements as well as giving me wonderful,  healing treatments that combine the ancient principles of acupuncture with contemporary technology. Their message was especially for Anna; it was a pendulum on a fine chain, a cool, smooth weight that can be worn as a necklace or watched in fascination as the arc of its swing diminishes with each return.

The third “1” remains a mystery: it’s a cigar box, carefully and lovinglhy decorated with shells, leaves, dried roses, aphorisms, quotations, more shells, references to St. Joseph. Some of the writings appear to be signed “Rael.” Who are you who made this beautiful and mysterious box?

Those were yesterday’s wonderful surprises. Today there have been two more. The first is from Loretta, a friend and outstanding colleague in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group, who sent something beautiful to the touch and completely in keeping with the pleasure we take in dancing with BodyChoir” a soapstone figurine made in Zimbabwe, showing a couple dancing, so completely entwined with each other that I at least can’t tell where one ends and the other begins, yet LIGHT AND open AND SILKY-smooth. The other is a letter from Gordon Montgomery, an Irish usability expert who’s now actively involved in accessibility work, talking about how I was implicated in his decision to move to Austin  and narrating a bit about the work he and I did together last May, the day after I learned that my leukemia had relapsed.

Each of these things has moved us to tears. They’re individually beautiful, but it’s much more than that: it’s the love they represent that makes them so moving, that animates the objects and the words and brings the people who sent them into the room with us. Thanks again.

And, oh, yes! I started chemo this morning. It was early—very early: about 4:30 AM. But it’s OK; I was awake, though I hadn’t meant to be. By 9:15 it was over for the day, and a different  but related mini-drama began: would the catheter that had been inserted in the crook of my left elbow last night actually do what it was supposed to do? Would it yield up a useful sample of my blood so they could measure the levels of busolfan being absorbed in my body? (They would need to draw blood some 10 times at different points throughout the day.) The short answer is “no,” though it took longer than that to settle the question. Suffice it to say that that catheter is gone, replaced by a similar one in my right arm, and the right arm is also taped to a split that doesn’t exactly prevent me bending my arm (and thus possibly injuring the catheter) but does at least remind me to be more careful. This one is supposed to last all the way through Friday night…

The effects of the chemo haven’t been manifest yet. I’m grateful for that, too. And Mason’s plane gets in soon! It’ll be so good to see him.jslatin     


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