Thursday, January 30, 2014

The vigil, day 1, year 7.

On this day every year since 2007, I thank the people who came to me on what, up till that moment anyway, was the worst day of my life. Particularly the friend. who was there when no one else was,  and Jesse's high schoolf friend Alex, whose last name I can never quite remember-- and all of Jesse's friends, and my family, who turned that grim corner of the neuro ICU into a loving vigil of Jesse's gypsies-- you all kept me whole in those horrible days. You will always have a home.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tentative steps.

I had to take a cab in the snowstorm to get to work, and my cab driver was from Mali, in West Africa. We talked about his life and mine, and our families, and he told me that his father had two wives, as way of explaining his family over there. I said, well the Koran says you can have more than one if you can treat them fairly and equally. He seemed surprised that I knew this, but, he said, you can have up to four! And I had to laugh because of course, I can't.

I can understand though, if I lived in a culture where life was so dangerous and meager that a woman by herself couldn't protect and feed herself, it might make sense to join the large family of a man who could feed me and my kids, and protect me from the dangers outside the walls. As an atheist and a feminist, I find it morally appalling, but when I walk a little ways in their shoes, the culture makes sense. It wouldn't help them or me for me to start telling him what I see as wrong in his family system. I wouldn't learn anything, and I wouldn't have climbed out of his cab feeling a little more connected to the world. That was a gift.

I don't know how much of my truth is only cultural truth; I'm not sure I'm able to see all that well.

Monday, January 20, 2014

It doesn't get better, you just get better at dealing with it.

Seven years.  There's a deadened layer of forgetfulness: was it MLK day when he went into the hospital? The day after? I go into the room where I saw him the last time before the hospital call. In my mind he will always be there leaning back against the table, looking tired, thin, pale. Why didn't I see it? Why didn't he? If he'd gone to the hospital that day, he might be alive now. He was tired he said, from finals. He had lost Lisa already. He wa trying to move on. In my mind I reach to him and hug him and beg him to see a doctor. In reality we just chatted-- he still kept me at arms length. Even at the hospital, he complained to friends on AIM that I was there all the time. He didn't understand why I couldn't leave him there. He would have had to live 30 more years to understand. So many decades stolen from him. A large part of my future taken from me. If he'd gone to the hospital a week earlier, it would not have been the last time.

I think, by the end we both realized that his life would be in and out of hospitals. I think, in the end, he didn't want that life.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dream life.

I can remember dreams as far back as age 3 (scary little-girl-eating Sinclair dinosaur chasing me through my neighborhood). That one was in black and white, but they're almost always in color, sometimes even with physical sensation (once Captain Crunch punched me in the ribs to prove I was awake and woke me up), and even taste (particularly chocolate and bacon). My dreams often have entire story lines, sometimes an entire life (not mine) involved. I see people's faces, hear their voices, have relationships with them (not necessarily anyone I know in reality). Sometimes I can read from pages, sometimes I speak French or play musical instruments, fly, breathe underwater... but the only thing that I find really strange is that I can travel around in the dream and come back to the same place, and everything is still the same in the room, or on the street, wherever I return to. How do I do that???

I've read that dreams like these are considered a sign of mental illness. In which case I'd rather be crazy, it's more fun.