388. Vespers

E&R&Co. came to visit while I was still at OHSU.  I was not awake but I saw them in my dreams in The Valley.

E&R&Co. came to visit while I was still at OHSU. I was not awake but I saw them in my dreams in The Valley.


Let’s be frank: I was a mess before I went back to Oregon. Daddy said I look better last night. Compared to when? I wanted to know. He thought for a moment then said, Better than three months ago. I’m writing this on July 3. Exactly three months ago we were in Oregon. Dad and I almost never talk about “stuff” (he’d probably feel better if I did broach the tenderer subjects with him, but I can’t) unless I have a severe game face fracture and burst into tears. This has happened only a handful of times, mostly when I’ve heard disappointing news at the doctor and he’s been with me and I hold out until we’re in the car, but it happened more often as we prepared to head to the Pacific Northwest.

My iPod has been a real comfort to me for years. It was one of the first things I asked Mommy to bring for me in the hospital. I listened to a playlist on “repeat” for a month straight when Daddy went to go get his biopsy for the “noodle in his throat.” And as I had a harder time sleeping I clung to my iPod at night (don’t tell Tanpo. This is highly frowned upon behavior in his world).

Then my friend J introduced me to the song “10,000 Reasons/Bless the Lord” by Matt Redman. I was just starting to enjoy vocal music again and I liked the song so well and played it so much my iPod broke. Not kidding. It just died and then refused to take a charge. I found a deal online and ordered a green nano I call “Kermit.” In keeping with how time is kind of frozen for me I was shocked to learn that the pink nano I had toted with me through B-school, to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oregon, was a 3rd generation dinosaur and the world had moved on to the 7th generation.

I like “Bless the Lord” because the lyrics speak to me and they are supported by a listener-friendly melody.  This is the first verse:

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning

It’s time to sing Your song again

Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me

Let me be singing when the evening comes…

This made me think a lot about the morning I got sick. I had no idea what was going to happen in a few hours. When my family got into my apartment they cried at the sight of everything as I had left it that morning – not knowing that I would never be coming back.

I like the notion of the lyrics – but I like to replace aspirational feel of “let me be singing” to a more intentional resolution – I will be singing when the evening comes. I do agree with the aspirational bent of the original lyrics in that it’s always important to ask for attitudinal help. But I think of this song primarily in the past tense – in the context of what happened when my brain bled – so I think that’s why I like to insist on I will be singing

I also enjoy the notion of the passage of time in this song. It begins with the sun rising and verse one ends with singing vespers. No matter what happens during the day the chorus brings us back to center:

Bless the Lord, O my soul

O my soul

Worship His holy name

Sing like never before

O my soul

I’ll worship Your holy name

The last verse, though, really pulled at my heartstrings:

And on that day when my strength is failing

The end draws near and my time has come

Still my soul will sing Your praise unending

Ten thousand years and then forevermore

One of the hardest things I realized before I went to Oregon was that death had been very near to me on that day. (I had largely blocked it out.) I refer to that period (when I was asleep) as “The Valley” and when I heard this verse of the song it actually made me wistful for it. The Valley was absolutely terrifying but I was able-bodied in it. I walked normally etc. and I actually began to miss it bc it was the last thing that “happened” before I woke up and found myself in this situation.

As I’ve reunited with my doctors, Therapists and Trainers here I’ve been bracing myself for explaining the last few months and there have been moments when I’ve held my breath and thought, Don’t make me say it, PLEASE don’t make me say it. “It” could be any number of things, but thankfully I’ve become skilled at thinking of oblique references and subtle euphemisms on my feet and give my people credit for being sensitive conversationalists.  (I have, however, called a “time out” and done full-disclosure when appropriate.)

Although my Oregon trip was three months ago I’m still decompressing. My time at Ai Ai and Tim’s beefed me up enough to help me transition home and deal with the belongings that got shipped here from my old apartment. You can tell it’s been really up and down bc I was planning to post more recipes in the last month but the eating situation has been unstable.

But we’re enjoying an upswing currently.   Like I told you last week I’m grateful to be dealing with the “Annoying” bc I know now we’ve progressed beyond the point of “possible sign of imminent Mortal Danger.” Before I left I seriously had to decide, Ain’t no one gonna die. Honestly, I had some concerns bc I felt like I just might. But now I’m back in action and am stronger than ever.


356.  I decided

356. I decided

Ann Ning Learning How |Nonprofit books on Amazon!

8 thoughts on “388. Vespers

  1. You know I love this song, too – both the lyrics and the melody. I also like how it reminds me of one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 103 – “Bless the Lord, o my soul…” Thankful for the upswing and praying it continues! xoxos

  2. Happy to hear there’s a current upswing, and also sending many hugs in your direction. I do feel a little bad about the iPod breaking 😉 See you soon I hope (maybe during this week?) We’ll discuss. xxoo ❤

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