by Ricardo Gonzalez-Rothi
The fact that I am able to answer coherently when someone asks me how my day is going is a splendid and distinguished opportunity for being thankful that I am alive. The body aches-well, they are are just a gentle reminder of the ageing tendons, muscles and bones that greatly take pains to indulge this teenager inside of me, reinforcing the thought that there is increasing fragility beyond no longer being 18. My wife has forbidden me to climb up a ladder unattended, but I am still allowed to ride the bike, glide the kayak and of late, I’m working on getting back on the horse again. Just finished oiling the saddle. I just need to convince her-and the horse.
I have become increasingly jealous of my sleep and feel cheated on those days I can’t remember dreams long enough to duplicate them compulsively on paper. It may seem odd to some that I am greatly indebted to my phrenic nerves for rhythmically working my diaphragm for over twenty-four thousand, one hundred and forty days, five hours, 32minutes and an infinitely ticking number of seconds. Even while I sleep, for me, every breath is an inspiration.
My patients always wish for me to be brutally honest and give them a frank prognosis. Yet I violently abhor shattering the hope box for anyone. Along the course of over two thirds of my life I have seen many people die. Some peacefully, others regretfully unprepared; some suddenly and with little warning, and many in the lancinating throes of an intense spectrum of pain, smothering dyspnea and angst. None of these “endings” is ever as untenable as is dying alone, however. I have always made it a point, whenever possible, to stay present for them till the last heartbeat has exited. I sometimes tell people who fear their exit and don’t have a spiritual anchor to soothe their angst, that the water they are made of, their mitochondria, the grey matter in their brain, the blood coursing through their cholesterol-laden arteries, the taste buds on their tongues, even the little hairs in their nostrils are all recyclable, and that this their last contribution to enriching the soil, should bring them the comfort that because of them some beautiful flower will bloom somewhere...
As for my soul, when I finally get all the strings in tune, and my thumb steps methodically down the strings, caressing the parallelogram of the fretboard I find the feeling is as good as one scoop of coconut ice cream on a hot day. When I hold a half pound of wet clay in my hand and others see mud, I see the endless possibilities. My batteries are best recharged by a good cup of coffee, sitting on a flat rock beside a gently rolling stream, just watching the river renew itself. I don’t comment on Facebook and my voicemail messages more often than not fall on deaf ears. I prefer spending my time trying to figure out why dragon flies know to hover in formation in a particular part of my pasture at a particular time of day, for days on end.
About the Author
An academic physician and scientific writer, Ricardo has had his fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry featured in the U.S. and in the U.K., in Acentos Review, Hispanic Culture Review, Biostories, Foliate Oak, Lunch Ticket, The Bellingham Review, Molotov Cocktail, Star 82 Review, Wingless Dreamer and others. Born and raised in Cuba, he came to the United States as a refugee in his teens and now resides in North Florida.