Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A little closer

I've had a migraine since I got back. It started in the taxi line & I tried to pretend it would go away. By last night I was nearly gagging in pain. Nothing I threw in its way stopped the momentum of the pain. Working from home today. The doctor was a disappointment (not as dire as that last cup of gumbo), but really, how much can anyone do? I started crying about Jesse in her office, and she started crying too. It made me feel better for some reason, not that she cried, but my crying. That is, it's kind of a relief when the other person cries, because it makes me feel like they get it, but at the same time, it's upsetting to hurt another person with the painful facts of my existence. But yeah, the migraine got a little better. Better enough that when I stepped out of her office I realized I was pretty close to Fordham, where Jesse had just started law school the fall before he died. I'd left a pair of sunglasses there in October, when I first talked to the development dept about Jesse's Fund. She's saved them for me this whole time. I pushed myself the few blocks, prisoner of my own will to move forward. feeling what he must have felt there: this wasn't what he had in mind, but it had its well-tended beauty. A row of white birches on an emerald lawn, broken by a gate. It felt safe, and clean and serious, like college campuses do. By the gate above a grating set in the grass stood a thin column of steam, about five feet high, writhing in place like a tethered spirit.

What happened to him? How could this have happened? How do you get some rare blood disease nobody gets and what did I do wrong? How could I have thrown myself in front of that trackless and invisible, that soundless speeding train? When will it take something else from me that I can't bear to lose?

I ran into one of his classmates on my way out. Amanda. Just barely recognized her, and she me. "Do you know Jesse... did you know Jesse Smith?" and the light went on in her eyes and we talked. She told me the dean's speech at commencement had been mostly about Jesse. I wish I'd been there, but it's probably best for me that I wasn't. How much, exactly do I allow me to torture myself. Listen: that's a bigger part of life than you think.


  1. In Chicago, it rains at night more often than during the day, I'm told. One year, this was most emphatically not true. That June, a family of four was crossing a parking lot, the father shielding them from the downpour with his umbrella. None of them made it to the car.

    They had done nothing wrong, just as you have done nothing wrong.

    Sometimes, the lightning simply doesn't care.

  2. It's hard to know that, even when you know that, but thank you.

  3. Heartbreak. It is very very real. Dreadful and real. And yet the reason it hurts so bad is the enormous amount of love. It's a damned paradox.

    (I say that aloud as DAM-ned because it somehow conveys it better).

    There is nothing sentimental or mushy about a heart broken open.

    But still, for those of us who read you and who love you, I'm humbled and grateful to be able to share even an inkling, even a twinge. Because that's all I can do.

  4. sweetheart, I know you've probably gotten several dozen suggestions just like the one I'm going to make and maybe even this very one but my roommate in college was a migraine sufferer and I have several close friends who also have them (maybe I'm the common factor?) so through the years I've heard numerous possible treatments. recently I heard vitamin B-2 (riboflavin) can be effective in both treatment of an on-going migraine but also as a preventative when taken daily. I passed this on to a friend and it worked so well for him that he now carries a great big jar of B-2 in his car. maybe a little riboflavin? whattaya say? I agree it was probably good you weren't at commencement but perhaps you could have a copy of that address. I think the artifacts are important. I'm sure the dean would be happy to send you a copy. I'd even ask him for the copy from which he spoke.


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