I'm reading a book that my sister, Jayne, gave to me, "The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating" by Elizabeth Tova Bailey. It's a beautifully written book with wonderful, simple illustrations of the snail. The author was suddenly stricken with autoimmune dysautonomia, a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, that leaves her unable to do much but lie in bed. Even sitting up is a huge drain on her. She has moved from her farm house in rural Maine to a small apartment where there is a "caregiver" tending to her 24/7. She has a few friends who come and visit her but as I get deeper into the book these visits are dwindling since her disease is dragging on and people have busy lives.
One friend had brought her a potted violet with a small, forest snail that she had found and placed in with the plant. This tiny snail is the focus of the book. The author can roll herself over from one side of her bed to the other, so she has days on end where she is able to just watch this small snail living out it's life. She has her caregiver go into the woods and gather plants and objects to make a terrarium in which to house this snail; a much better home then the original potted plant that allowed the snail to wonder at night and eat tiny, square shaped holes into stationary and envelopes.
What is so wonderful about this book is how the author compares her life to this snail. And, of course, I can't help but see comparisons of what Jim's life was becoming as his brain tumors took more and more of his abilities to function away. How hard he fought at times to come out of this encroaching shell that was isolating him from his much larger world .... how hard I fought to keep him connected in any way that I could. But there were those days when we just allowed ourselves to simply be, just let go of the fight. At these times we moved around at a snails pace always aware that the world was racing past us. Always aware that our world was shrinking as was our time together.
These early morning hours offer a simple world to me. No other lights on in the neighboring houses, no one else is awake, no phone calls to make as all the busy-ness that I must do today can't begin for several more hours. My world is a small shell; this wood stove, my coffee cup, a book.
And sometimes I wish it was this simple,