to one fluid, my hulking, growing gland would, over years, significantly
limit the more frequent release of another. My great Grand Coulee Dam.
You can hear the humor I almost found in this. When I talked to
friends, I did not mention Mike, but of course they commiserated when
I spoke of my catheter episodes. And chuckled.
Whatever kept me going. I hiked. Trails above Santa Fe. Alone. As I
always hiked. Thinking suspended. Up arroyos of chamisa and Apache
plume, and rocks and jays and lizards, horned toads and whiptails still
out that September. Did you know that all whiptails are female? It’s true.
Parthenogenesis. No males needed. No prostates. With tails that break
if grabbed—and regenerate.
The day I scheduled surgery, Dr. Dejean, Mike’s spark in his magnified
eyes, said he would have me peeing like a fifteen-year-old. I told him
that my friend who’d had a similar procedure claimed I’d be peeing like
a twelve-year-old. When I repeated that conversation to Susie over the
phone on my drive home, she said, “As long as you aren’t peeing like an
We did still laugh.
Mike also phoned when I was headed home, as I navigated a thun-
derstorm on Raton Pass. He was back at his job, believe it or not, already
teaching again, overseeing his lab that his department had held together.
He was organizing a “long overdue” memorial for “you know who.” I
told him about my upcoming procedure. He said, “You’re in good hands
with a robot.”
We did still laugh. He said, “I’ll be there.”
We could have used a reassuring robot the night Mike was born, like
Robbie in Forbidden Planet, his favorite movie. Susie’s in labor and the
baby’s heartbeat won’t waver. Even with contractions. The doctor says,
“Maybe he’s asleep,” and actually reaches into Susie and shakes him.
Nope. They take blood from his scalp to see if the oxygen is adequate.
Yup. Then out he finally comes, no crying, startled eyes full of analytical
intelligence like some explorer stumbled into a lost city. “Nothing wrong
with this guy,” the nurse said in his first exam I protectively carried him
to. From there I walked him to his waiting mom. Only just as I passed
him to her, I became convinced he wasn’t breathing. I sprinted back
down the corridor to the nurses’ station, hollering, “He’s not breathing,