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  • Jamie Foley

Time as a Balm (Con't)

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

August 21, 2020


Time transports us and transmutes us miraculously at any give moment, hours later even, we can see clear to another way...


It feels like I have travelled to another country. Sheamus builds a sandcastle on the beach; boats, first the Ethan Allen, and then a sailboat, chug by us as if on parade. Swimmers float in the calm waters of Lake Champlain and others sit chatting on the beach, under a diminishing sun. I have decided that we will wait out Steven's time at the hospital here in South Burlington, with a sturdy view of a downtown skyline. We could have stayed with Steven there in his windowless, negative air chamber with portable toilet, but something told me that that situation would have been untenable with a child who needs to be outside in fresh air and me, nerves on edge, trying to keep my wits.


I've been fielding text messages with friends, with Ryelyn and Saneun, Sheamus' mom, since our scare with Steven. Everyone's lives have been upended with Covid-19 and the fear is palpable. Even the in-take nurse with his respirator-type mask seems stand-offish, extremely careful. He's telling us how to dispose of the sanitized wipes we've taken from containers provided, how to push a sanitizer wand away from us, for our dab of alcohol. One orderly, seemingly attempting to distance himself from Steven, strolls a few paces ahead as escort into the inner chambers of the emergency rooms. I try to warn him that Steven is still unsteady on his feet. Honestly, I can't wait to leave this place. Because I have Sheamus with me, I don't give it a second thought.


Now, I am at awe with the peace that has come over me, loving my grandson who until now, I hadn't realized is still connected to his inner child, most times a frenetic ball of energy, questioning everything and everyone in his purview. Give him some sand, or stick, or a tree, or a bicycle and he is instantly transported. There he is, surrounded by a moat, working to build a draw bridge to a landlocked pile of sand.


This is our reality now, not yet in the clear with Steven's health, over an hour's drive away from home. With no supper plans, we will eat tangerines and peanut butter filled pretzels on the drive, but for now, I breathe. I am calm, knowing that this too shall pass, that for right now, I can put the last two days and the immediate ones to come, on hold, on a shelf, tucked away from this impasse of bird infestation and virus scare. The view before me is almost surreal - gigantic white cumulous clouds float overhead, a slight breeze ripples the lake water, children shout and laugh, many of the adults gathered also stare out into horizon.


Leaving the beach, we will buy a coffee ice cream for Sheamus. He will finish it while watching an older couple play bocce ball in golden light. Later he and I will laugh like old friends until we cry, about an innocuous thing, a withering look, my split attention to Sheamus and my blasted cell phone. Having just taken off our masks, sitting safely in the car, in the parking lot, we watch as Steven walks across tarmac towards us in the blunted grey evening. For now, he is still with me, Sheamus too and I know deep down inside, that everything is going to be okay.



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