|Raymond Smith and the author in 1972. “So much to say in a marriage, so much unsaid."|
PHOTOGRAPH BY BERNARD GOTFRYD
There was a time when a story like this one by Joyce Carol Oates would not have engaged me. I would have moved on to another link that would take me to something more uplifting. Now I read such accounts and wonder if this is the way it will be for me.
February 15, 2008.Full story here
Returning to my car, which I haphazardly parked on a narrow side street near the Princeton Medical Center, I see, thrust beneath a windshield wiper, what appears to be a sheet of stiff paper. At once my heart clenches in dismay—a ticket? A parking ticket? At such a time? Earlier this afternoon, I parked here—hurried, harried, a jangle of admonitions running through my head like shrieking cicadas—on my way to visit my husband in the Telemetry Unit of the medical center, where he was admitted several days ago for pneumonia. Now I need to go home for a few hours, before returning to the medical center in the early evening—anxious, dry-mouthed, and head-aching, yet in a state that might be called hopeful, for since his admission into the medical center Ray has been steadily improving. His oxygen intake, measured by numerals that fluctuate with literally each breath—90, 87, 91, 85, 89, 92—is increasing. Arrangements are being made for his discharge into a rehab clinic nearby. But first, in the late afternoon of an interminable and exhausting hospital day, can it be that our car has been ticketed? That, in my distraction, I parked illegally? The time limit for parking on this street is two hours; I’ve been in the hospital for longer than two hours, and I see with embarrassment that our 2007 Honda Accord—eerily glaring-white in the February dusk, like some strange phosphorescent creature in the depths of the sea—is inexpertly parked, at a slant to the curb, left rear tire over the white line in the street by several inches, front bumper nearly touching an S.U.V. in front of it. If this is a parking ticket—at once the thought comes to me—I won’t tell Ray. I will pay the fine in secret.