Costume Jewelry

The hospital was ready to discharge my wife yesterday, but the rehab facility we chose was unable or unwilling to accept her. So, we’re waiting on word from another one. I hope we get word early today. The difficulty in making the decision to go to another rehab facility is that, unlike the hospital, those facilities do not allow visitors. That’s a distinct danger, I think; the isolation has real potential to cause or exacerbate depression. Yesterday, I asked my wife to promise to call me every day and to answer my calls every day. She agreed, but it’s easier to say than to engage the discipline necessary for her to do it. I need an ally inside the facility, someone who will make it their mission to ensure daily communication between us. That will be my mission; finding that person and getting a commitment.


Despite going to bed early again last night and getting up early today, my energy level lags behind where I hoped it would be. I can imagine going back to bed and staying there for several hours. But I can’t do that. I have to go to the hospital to await news of my wife’s rehab destination. The sky, though clear and muted blue, appears drab and somber. Morning light is tinged with a dull hint of darkness, as if a filter is blocking out certain rays of the sun; the ones that spark smiles and glad spirits. Nature has billions of ways to shape one’s moods. Every single shred of the spectrum of color is at Nature’s beck and call; the most accomplished painter is not enough of an artist to compete with Nature’s sophistication and complexity.

It occurred to me just now that Nature has the capacity to create storms without clouds and without rain or wind and without any hint of dynamic air movement or lightning or sounds. Nature can create storms of dull silence, hidden between ordinary molecules. Today seems like one of those invisible storms. Chaos hidden and disguised to appear placid and gentle, but full of unchecked rage. Anarchy in the atmosphere, concealed by artificial tranquility.

Humans get our cues from Nature. Our façades can appear gentle and serene, hiding cauldrons of volcanic pandemonium just beneath the surface. Conversely, we can falsely appear tightly wound and ready to explode into a raging fury, while experiencing supreme calmness within. “Looks can be deceiving.”  “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” There must be more. I’m just unable to think of them.


It is possible to be so tightly wound for so long that the acidic atmosphere inside our brains causes the coils to corrode. They snap but do not immediately come unwound. When the corrosion wears and weakens, though, shattered pieces of pent-up energy spray in all directions, like shrapnel meant to cause maximum trauma. I do not know this to be factual, of course, but I sense that it is a true reflection of what can and sometimes does happen. The worn and weakened coils, when they fracture, illustrate what we mean when we say someone is “broken.” The pieces a person has tried to control have taken on unruly lives of their own, bursting forth in an uncontrolled flash, tearing into everything and everyone in their paths.


My mood this morning could be lighter and brighter. It could be less sinister and more cheerful. I will try to sparkle a bit. Not so much like broken glass, but like polished costume jewelry.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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7 Responses to Costume Jewelry

  1. Bev says:

    That’s excellent about a new rehab place and a nurse who is willing to encourage Janine to keep in touch. I expect that some facilities are putting a concerted effort into helping their residents stay connected with their families. And, yes, good to know that you have a tribe. 🙂

  2. Yes, Bev, we finally got word of acceptance from a rehab facility yesterday morning. Janine was taken there by ambulance mid-afternoon yesterday. And I spoke to a nurse there who said she would help Janine stay in touch with me; I’ll try to find others to cover different days and shifts. And, yes, I do feel the sense of community, Bev, thanks in large part to people like you who make it a point to stay in touch. I am fortunate to have a “tribe.” 😉

  3. Bev says:

    I hope a rehab place has been found. Also, that you’re able to find an ally who can encourage Janine to skype or at least talk with you daily. I’m glad that you feel part of a community. You are! During the year when I cared for Don, and then the year caring for my mom, facebook and commenting on blogs was my lifeline. Living alone as I do, the online community really does help me to feel that while I am alone, I am never lonely. I hope you sense that as well. Carry on!

  4. Liz, Robin, and Pat,

    Thank you! Your words of encouragement and support mean a great deal to me. As lonely as I sometimes feel without Janine at home, I feel like I’m part of a caring community when I read your words. You are good, good people!

  5. robin andrea says:

    Thank you for keeping us updated here, John. I hope that you have found someone at the Rehab facility who will communicate with you and help Janine take and make calls. That would be so good for both of you. Take care there. Yes, sparkle sparkle sparkle.

  6. lizardek says:

    Better not to bottle things up! Agree wholeheartedly about daily communication to ward off isolation and depression.

  7. Pat Newcomb says:

    Excellent use of the metaphor – and you have permission to sparkle like broken glass.

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