“…To find all you seek, there is the utter East”

I planned on posting this about three weeks ago. But then it snowed and I had to work and watch two three year-olds at the same time. And then I had two weeks of working until 11 PM every night. So blogging has fallen a couple rungs down the ladder of priorities.

My dad invited me to go out and see Voyage of the Dawn Treader with him and I initially had a lot of trepidation about going to see the movie. Of all the books in the Narnia series, Dawn Treader is my favorite and I worried the movie interpretation would be greatly disappointing. I feared they would totally rearrange the plot of the movie to make it more like an action film (they did) and I feared they would rewrite it with some cheesy Hollywood message (“believe in yourself and you can do anything.” check.) and still, still I knew once the ship reached the where the waves grew still and they began to row through the white lillies to reach Aslan’s land, I would probably still weep (and I did.) It’s such a beautiful metaphor and to the movie’s credit, whatever shortcomings they had in changing the story, the sight of end of the world was awe-inspiring. It ended up not being as bad as I feared.

After the movie, I went with my mom to visit my grandmother at the special care home that she’s at now. On their latest album, Over the Rhine has a song called “Only God Can Save Us Now.” Songwriter Karin Bergquist says she wrote the song about her mother’s nursing care home which she calls “a head-on collision of comedy and tragedy.” How right she is. My grandmother was the hardy sort that has essentially taken care of herself for about 90 years. A few years ago, she broke her hip, an injury that usually prevents an elderly person from ever walking again, and bounced back walking. She had a cane, but she refused to use it which drove my mom crazy. Sadly, last year pneumonia got the best of her and while she is still alive, either the illness or the medication has blunted her sharpness and slowed her down. Time gets everyone and it is catching up to her fast. I sat and talked to her a while but I’m not sure she knew who I was or what I was saying. She was unable to finish thoughts, drifting off halfway through each sentence. My sister had warned me before I went to see her, “you need to go and say goodbye for yourself” and I understood what she meant.

When I was in college, my senior project involved working with an invalid man that had volunteered to have electrodes planted in his brain. He couldn’t move anything below his neck, but he could crudely operate a computer simply by thinking thoughts (thinking about moving his arm moved the mouse a certain direction, et cetera.) We worked on building a user interface for his computer, simplifying steps so that he could use the computer to communicate with his nurses. Even though we spent a year working with him, I have to confess the brain is still a total mystery to me.

I don’t know how much more time my grandmother has here with us. Maybe months maybe years. I don’t know what is happening in her mind or how aware she is. I’d like to think that in her mind she is sailing, sailing into the utter East. She’s approaching where the waves grow still and the ocean pours up in a wall over to Aslan’s Country. It’s the journey we’re all taking and it’s that hope that moves us forward.

“While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise…” – Reepicheep

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