As I write this my sister and her husband are in a hospital in El Paso, Texas. They both have COVID. He caught it, he thinks, while branding cattle with some new guys at the ranch. She of course caught it from him. He is in Intensive Care and she is one floor beneath him.
At this point, doctors are optimistic. Yesterday we had a long talk and she said that they had both received the Last Rites, now called the Anointing of the Sick, and that her husband actually wanted to die out there on his land. Both were suffering from oxygen deprived COVID Hypoxia, which made him kind of giddy and she, by then unable to speak, felt soooo serene. Finally, convinced that the hospital was their only option they both agreed to go into town. She said nobody spoke in the truck while their son drove. She remembers the snow covering the mountains. While in the hospital parking lot she said this sudden overwhelming love for Mexico and its people engulfed her, as she could see the lights coming on one by one in Juarez across the border.
People who don’t live in El Paso have no idea that the border splits the cities in half. You could throw a rock from a multi million dollar building on the UTEP campus and hit a cart being pulled by a donkey alongside the river in Juarez. That’s how close, and how far apart, we are.
I don’t know if my sister is afraid. She has never been separated from her husband of 48 years for more than ten days in all that time. She said she is determined to walk out from that hospital together with him— hand in hand.
Nobody can visit them. She said he sent her a text that read “Get back up on that horse, Cowgirl.” She said it made her cry.
But yesterday I made her laugh. With divine autocorrect I hurriedly typed her a message that read “Honey, there are more than 300 people all over Jerusalem spraying for you both.” You read that right. “Spraying.” Not “praying.” She texted “Now I have to go to the porta potty”...and then again “Don’t start with me.” I have to remember that laughing has a price for her right now. She is too weak to walk. Today they could not find the veins in her arms. She is getting two shots a day in her stomach to prevent blood clots.
And now she and I are on different sides of a border. One I cannot cross over. She is in the wilderness. The dark dark sky. The twinkling stars. Shadows of rocks and mountains all around.
It is the nights I most wish I were with her.
And the doctors say “Be Strong.”
Laurie Beth ~ Live. Breathe. Joy.