The Postscript

Out of the jungle

Carrie Classon

In my dream, the jungle was thick and dark.

There was a river running through it and I was on a small raft, careening down it. The current was flowing fast in the center and I wanted to steer closer to the banks, but the jungle was filled with monsters – prehistoric creatures that roared when they saw my little raft tumbling in the water. I never saw them clearly, but could sense their large presence. They reared their giant heads as I went by. The branches of the trees thrashed as they moved just out of sight.

Then, up ahead, I saw huge stones in the center of the river. I feared I would smash my makeshift raft to bits. I steered closer to the bank until my raft was very close to the river’s edge.

Suddenly, a huge arm reached out of the jungle. It was gray and covered in scales with long claws and I was easily within reach.

I woke with a start. Peter was sleeping. I grabbed him.

“What’s the matter?” he asked groggily.

I tried to explain about the monsters that were like dinosaurs and the river that was flowing too fast for me to navigate the rickety raft and the rocks ahead.

“Wasn’t I there?” he asked.

“No!”

He wasn’t there. But as he fell back to sleep, I knew he thought he should have been. If he had been there, we would have evaded those monsters. Next time, he would make a point of being on the raft.

Being married comes with a lot of responsibilities they don’t tell you about.

We are now in Mexico and, after weeks of feeling good, Peter’s back went out again last night. He felt worse than he’d ever felt before. I didn’t know what we should do. Stay where we were? Continue to our destination? Return home?

“I can’t think clearly enough to decide. Let’s do what you think is best,” Peter said.

“Let’s go!” I said. We packed up in minutes, caught a shuttle, and headed to our final stop, an hour and a half away.

I explained to our driver, Ricardo, in my childlike Spanish that my husband had “terrible pain of the spine” and he looked on sympathetically.

We had almost made it to our destination when Ricardo asked if we would like to stop at a pharmacy. The only thing that had helped Peter before was a short course of steroids. I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. So I launched into my small-child Spanish again, asking the pharmacist if it was “possible to buy prednisona.”

“What strength?” she wanted to know. “And how much?” This was beyond my abilities to communicate, so she just brought out the boxes and laid them on the counter.

By nightfall Peter was feeling a bit better, and today he is up and cooking beans. He will see another doctor when we get home, because he cannot live like this – always in fear of monsters jumping out of the jungle. But I am so glad he is better today.

“I am not very good at taking care of you,” I said, because I’m not.

I have no experience caring for people who are ill or in pain. I don’t know what to say or do. I feel helpless and useless and frustrated – none of which makes me much of a Florence Nightingale.

But I was able to speak enough Spanish to get some help. I got our raft a little closer to the center of the river and now we are picking up speed.

Till next time,

Carrie

Carrie Classon

is a nationally syndicated columnist, author, and performer. She champions the idea that it is never too late to reinvent oneself in unexpected and fulfilling ways. Learn more about Carrie and her memoir, “Blue Yarn,” at CarrieClasson.com.

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