Lamp light glistens on the wet surface as I set off in a light drizzle; there is no wind, and it is not cold. The familiar pavement welcomes me back after the long flight from Hyderabad. Jet lag woke me early to a morning shifted by daylight saving time, allowing an additional hour to continue my learning about coma.
The first winter rains have filled the twisting pathway on Stanford Avenue with debris from the trees, and I pick my way carefully over fallen branches. The gate to The Dish is locked; 7 minutes to go. I run on Junipero Sierra, past an old couple, the woman, in a yellow jacket, wishes me a cheery good morning.
Turning back, I enter The Dish, and manage the first steep hill without stopping, and pick up speed on the slope. The drizzle has turned into a fine rain, and the sky is filled with thick clouds. My thoughts are with Paddi, in bed, half way around the world, in dazed unconsciousness. My research taught me hearing is not impaired even in very deep coma; the mind registers words, and chooses not to respond. I am glad I spoke to her though I thought she was not listening.
I am on the long uphill where I must trick myself with short term objectives. Dear Mind, just reach that bush on the right, a hundred steps away, and you can consider rest. Go on, the spot where the squirrel ran across the path, you can get there.
I reach the big dish without stopping - my mind succeeded in tricking itself. Paddi’s mind has chosen to withdraw, shrouding itself with darkness, a trick perhaps to cover the pain?
A panoramic view of the valley opens up as I reach the top, and coast along, taking my cap off to let the scenery soak in. The sun has risen, and burned the clouds away; in minutes, the world around me changes to a beautiful sunlit morning, and a perfect rainbow adorns the sky, arcing from the distant hills in the West, and ending ahead of me, in the trees below.
The rainbow glows in the blue sky, unnaturally bright, challenging the sun. Paddi spoke to me on the phone, before I left on this run. Her words were muddled, unclear, but, at the end of the conversation I heard with complete clarity, “I love you, son.”