Fog suited me two weekends ago, lying on Saturday morning as clouds in the hollows, then hugging the car on Sunday morning. I welcomed it especially on Sunday. Maybe I craved that embrace, halfway through a long weekend at the emergency clinic.
Fog isn’t ideal for driving, but that morning it felt strangely protective. I didn’t need to worry about what lay beyond my immediate path. Scenic Route 20 rose and fell ahead of me like a breathing chest. I could trust its next breaths without seeing them very far in advance.
Fog relieved me of scenery, muting the view rushing past. It focused me inward. I had already spent early waking hours mulling over yesterday’s patients, stuck on the ones I didn’t fully understand. Why his symptoms? Why her death? Now, while on low volume, BBC radio speculated in understatements about why we like to eat capsaicin—food that burns—I lingered on death.
Fog sharpened my eyes for the edges of things—the edges of deer poised at the edge of the road. So much could change in one leap. Before that singular event, there would be quiet, like prayer. I imagined the edge of a small group in Charleston, their prayers. Then: one man with a gun, one church full of pain. One nation’s attention called, again, to its non-healing wounds.
Fog usually lingers over the farm ponds and rivers, low places, like it did on Saturday. But on Sunday, it shrouded the entire road, from high up near home to the bridge over Schoharie Creek. Then, it cleared as I emerged through the little town—Esperance: Hope.
Fog, during the same commute the next weekend, seemed distant. Lifting, spreading sunlight illuminated the whole road, making each field vibrant. The radio news beamed with what felt like big gestures towards respect for each other. Confederate flags reeled inward, folding into private places. Rainbow banners waved across social media.
I carried the news and voices with me all the way to work. It was the same work as last weekend, with crises of broken bodies and sick hearts and upset guts. It was the same work, with the potential to heal—or at least to attend—to stand beside the hurting. This weekend, I traveled to that work without the fog, feeling ready for the day’s possibilities.