The Changes Come So Fast

My wife, Mary Esther, and I celebrated our wedding anniversary on June 22.  We were married in 2002 and the time has just whipped by.  So many different things have happened; it’s all good but sometimes there are hard surprises.  

Mary Esther has scoliosis, stenosis and various other things wrong with her spine.  She had computers put inside her to help her regulate the agony she goes through on a daily basis.  But she never quits.

Just recently Mary Esther took her Refuge Vows and is now a practicing Buddhist.  Today, as I write this, she is in Framingham for the morning taking calls on a hot line named Call-2-Talk.  It’s a helpline for people who may be feeling suicidal or struggling with the “new normal” of COVID-19.  The actual telephone number is 508-532-CALL, but you can also reach it by calling 211.

Buddhism is, among other things, all about compassion, and Mary Esther takes her work very seriously.  She is a volunteer there and works every Tuesday morning from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and every Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.  I miss her but I know that she is doing something that keeps her in a healing mode.

A couple of paragraphs ago I was talking about her interior computers that help her manage her chronic pain.  She had them surgically implanted about ten years ago and they work great, yet, like life itself, everything is impermanent.

She was charging her batteries, which are internal, with her Medtronic’s device just the other night and, all of a sudden, a strange configuration came up on the hand-held machine that talks to the computer.  It contained the letters E-O-S, which didn’t bode well.

We called Medtronic and she spoke to their representative and confirmed our worst suspicions.  That three-letter configuration really says “End Of Service,” which means that the battery in one of the two devices has reached the end of its life span.

At this time Mary Esther was waiting to have back surgery to correct many of the pieces of her spine.  Her first date was March 24 of this year and that was cancelled because of the coronavirus.  They rescheduled her surgery for June 10, and then that was cancelled because there is a backlog of surgeries waiting to be done and her surgery is not life threatening.  It will, after a successful operation, ease some of the pain she struggles with on a daily basis.

Now, Mary Esther needs another surgery to replace the dead battery in her internal computer.  Both surgeries are for her back but one of them goes in through the front and one goes in through the back.  We don’t know if they can be done simultaneously but we hope so.

Mary Esther’s doctor will let her know on her scheduled computer appointment.  Those computers work great and we knew this day would come because, like life itself, nothing is forever.  

Even though I have never taken my Buddhist Vows, we both meditate regularly.  Mary Esther is currently studying from a book called “Emptiness, A Practical Guide for Meditators” by Guy Armstrong.  Actually, she’s studying from about three or four different books and takes regular seminars on Buddhism from the computer on her desk.

One of the aspects of Buddhism is that nothing is permanent; change is the only constant in our lives.  Mary Esther and I do readings together before we meditate, and the readings and the meditation help us face all the changes in our lives.  This includes “living in the new normal,” which has affected everyone in one way or another.

When I was homeless a little over two decades ago, my life changed every day even though I constantly repeated the same mistake on a daily basis.  I had to face my addiction and know that it was part of my reality.  

My drug addiction has gone into remission, but I still repeat actions that are not always helpful to me.  Meditation helps me with this, and Mary Esther is one of my best teachers.  I have a therapist and a psychopharmacologist too.  But my wife, Mary Esther, is my hero and I value her presence in my life.

Her surgery is coming down the road toward us, but we’ll face it together.  Love for all sentient beings will help us be what we need to be.  Thank you, gentle reader, for coming along on this journey with us.

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.

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