Paging EB White

Today was Lauren's pre-op day, filled with blood tests + medical interviews + an echocardiogram + waiting. (More on that in a bit.) If you have to be in a succession of waiting rooms, you could do worse than bringing along the Letters of EB White. The copy I have is satisfyingly tattered, a book that my parents gave to great-Grandma Brockbank in 1977 (the inscription is on the inside cover) and then later, meandering down through the line, it was given to me.

I'll admit I'm harboring a little long-held literary crush on Elwyn Brooks White. I can’t get enough of his New England wit and quick humor, his ease with sentiment and words. I knew he could write well, of course, but this open window to his personal friendships reveals much more of his warm soul and side glancing winks.

Back just two weeks after marrying his bride, Katherine, he sent her this poem*:

The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unwinds a thread of his devising; 
A thin, premeditated rig
To use in rising. 

And all the journey down through space, 
In cool descent, and loyal-hearted, 
He builds a ladder to the place
From which he started. 

Thus I, gone forth, as spiders do, 
In spider's web a truth discerning, 
Attach one silken strand to you
For my returning.

Oh, those silken strands. Lately (and abundantly) I have felt their tug.

When I was in DC for meetings last week I felt it, triggered by the universal law that the needs and happenings at home seem to escalate as soon as I leave town!  One trip to the doctor, one trip to get an xray (everyone's fine), sad events at school...all within 36 hours. G valiantly kept the clockwork ticking, homefires burning, and fort held down in my absence--although he had to go in to work at 5:30 on Saturday morning to do some catching up from all that parenting. He graciously quipped, "well it was my turn to take someone to the doctor at least once in their lifetime" (true that!) but still. Thank goodness for cell phones and text messages, those latter-day placeholders for actual connection & conversation.

Tomorrow's surgery will be another tug. Truly, I am confident she will be fine. All will be well. We're all chins up, keeping calm and carrying on around here. But right now all I can see is the impossibly delicate weight of those silken strands.

*Hello, early glimmers of Charlotte's Web! His granddaughter Martha later commented that Charlotte typified Katherine, through and through.