Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving, Friendship, Trout

We ate turkey for Thanksgiving dinner at South Davis, the traditional meal, but trout came to be an important part of it. Not part of the dinner itself—no, this was a classic Thanksgiving feast, cooked by two couples of very close friends, with a third dropping in to say hello. You know how a dinner like this goes: turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, yams, sweet potatoes with oranges and figs, turnips, spinach, and an astonishing cranberry sauce. A nice light red wine. And two pies, apple and pumpkin nut, made by still other friends. We talked about friendship, or, rather, we lived friendship, understanding what it means in these extraordinary circumstances. We wished others could have been there too, family, other friends, people with whom closeness is growing. We’re well aware of the changes in friendship patterns that occur with any major life event, especially the traumatic ones, whether it’s divorce or losing a job or breaking your neck—some old friends shy away, too embarrassed about what to say or too busy with the trauma in their own lives; others come into much clearer focus. But somehow this injury has been a friendship magnifier—Brooke and I both say, we had no idea..

In any case, this was a wonderful Thanksgiving. There was a lot of talking, but also a brief reading. Just the day before, Liz had found a slip of paper with a handwritten poem she composed last spring—something that captures the hard thing all Brooke’s friends and mine are having to do, come to terms with increasingly apparent fact that Brooke’s paralysis is looking more permanent, part of the long-term future. Here’s Liz’s poem—(could it be called “Brooke Trout”?):

At first, right after the accident, I was wishing on stars, even on starless nights, wishes that would have had you leaping tall buildings in a single bound by this time. Now I dream of fish. They rise up out of sleep like trout Peggy and I once watched in a swift stream on Boulder Mountain. Fish that hold themselves steady in the current with almost imperceptible movements of fins and tail.

Lucky fish. Schools of perfect bodies with one single mind. A simple mind. Poor fish.

The almost imperceptible flickers of your fingers and toes as your mind moves back into your body. Poor, imperfect body. But what a mind! The entire Pacific Ocean of a mind.

Liz Kuhlman

Spring 2009

P. S. Just the same, Brooke’s poor imperfect body is still making progress. He did a total of seven hours off the vent today, yet another new record, and said it wasn’t hard at all.

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