A slight, nearly imperceptible knock at the door of my home office precedes my wife shuffling into the room doubled over with pain apparently caused by complications from the "fix" she received at the hospital just last week for an intestinal blockage.
She doesn't want to go back. Not now. A dedicated nurse, she genuinely does want to be at the hospital; wants very much to be in scrubs, in fact, gowned up if need be, in order to help others. To provide care not to be cared for.
An inopportune time to be returning to a health care facility in a sudden age of inopportune times.
I have no answers, only recognition of my own stubborn chronic want to offer care not accept its offer. We are impatient patients, she and I.
But the pain is unrelenting, logic wins out, and we part ways with our beloved wife and mother for the second time in the last 10 days.
Hours later, I'm running because...because...because what else is a runner without answers supposed to do?
Even roadways are free of traffic and offer abundant space for distancing in a sudden age of distancing.
My ears report that the outdoors have become the realm of birds, the airwaves uncluttered except for their singing along this road not traveled. Not today. Even the well-worn overhead flight paths are devoid of travelers. Not a single plane in the sky, a phenomenon that recalls those bizarre days early in the century, that other time we staggered about wondering what we were to do, not to do, and when.
Farms and houses approach and vanish bereft of human sounds or appearances. I see just one person; a man in his yard on a dog walking exercise. He looks expectantly at me and I at him, but neither of us musters more fanfare than a meek wave and a somber nod. It seems somehow fitting but disappointing too.
The miles pass quietly and the presence of the single car that passes, normally a common occurrence, is jarring in its peculiarity on an otherwise vacant thoroughfare.
Up ahead on a long slow curve, an older couple, headed the same direction I am, is out for an afternoon walk. The casual, comfortable carriage lightens my mood and while I cannot hear what the two say to one another, their relaxed manner and obvious familiarity make the world seem less out of sorts for a moment.
Until they sense my presence.
Shoulders stiffen, conversation pauses abruptly, and the man and woman seem uncertain of whether to halt, continue walking, or step off into the field that they've been skirting on their amble. Raising my hands in front of me to indicate no intention of invading their space, I push as far off to the other side of the road as possible to make my way past them.
"Didn't want to sneak up on you," I offer, lamely, wishing for words of wisdom in a sudden age without any words of wisdom.
Everyone is now a stranger and stranger than ever.
More physical and invisible distance until, at last, home. All there really is right now is home, but, today and again, ours is incomplete.
I know nothing. All I know is that I don't know nothing.