Tag Archives: loss

A Personal War (in pieces) 

10 Mar

I’m not usually a novelty coffee mug person but I saw this when I was running errands last Friday night.

 

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It’s a blue bunny (like my bunny girl, Otis), I say “hop to it” frequently to kid and coparent, and the glasses and bowtie reminded me of something, but that memory glubglubbed just below the surface…a few days later I learned an old friend had passed…

And I realized that was who this mug was bringing to the surface.  The memories followed and I was in that high school hallway again and Mr. Fleck was telling him I would be missing the end of my senior year, specifically finals. He told him it was because I was sick and would be in the hospital. Mr. Pryor cried. He cried, for me. I had not cried yet, because I had not been alone and safe enough and so much was unknown. But he cried. His compassion and his empathy for the process I was just beginning is an overwhelming, emotional memory. I am in the bookstore on Greenwich Avenue, a year and a half later, after I have crashed and burned through Kubler-Ross, picked my self up with M. Scott Peck, and dusted myself off with nourishing Bernie Siegel.  He is happy to see me. I had been feeling rather ineffective and invisible and was teetering on the edge of a full blown existential crisis. I joke with him about putting barbed wire around the literature section and asking seekers of lit a few questions to determine if I would bestow upon them the precious volumes or if I would provide the corresponding Cliff Notes (it was summertime and even parents would come in to purchase the school required summer reading for their kids and most of them opted for the Cliff Notes over the full books). The next week another adored teacher from school came in. After that,  I would see both of them, frequently, as they always stopped in to say hello.

After a year and a half of working at the bookstore, living at home, and indulging in a motley assortment of night courses at SUNY Purchase, I lept from the nest a second time and headed to Boston intending to pursue a degree and training in cinematography & camerawork.

Septic shock took me out of this body and mind a few months later, and when I was out of the coma and done with surgery, I learned to sit up, stand, and walk again. I learned to sit up and hold things in my hand. I held a spoon. A pencil. My Filofax.

My Filofax.

For me the organizer was a diligent effort toward a resolution for the new year,  to stop storing the details of college and work, all cluttered, in my brain. The black rubbery cover held my only memories, and as it was a newly started calendar and address book(it was only 2.5 weeks into January) it contained little.  I didn’t recognize any names, but I started making phone calls because I was on a metric shit-ton of IV morphine. (Looking back, if I had not opened those pages and started dialing, out of a super-stoned, toddlerish curiosity, my son would not exist today, as his dad was under the C tab, and I was going alphabetically  (but that is another story to share later).)

Some things, some people, were absent from my organizer, and ceased to exist in my sunshiny, spotless world.

Mr. Pryor. Mr. Vaught. Dr. Pavlica. Mr. Montgomery. Ms. Becker.

Until a friend told me of Dr. Pavlica’s passing. And then a few years later, with the magic of Facebook, the memory of Mont was returned, alive and well and exploring Greece with his wife. Then Mr. Vaught passed last year and that news returned him, to me.

Then this week, when I sipped my tea from my bowtied, spectacled blue bunny mug and read on Facebook that Mr. Pryor had passed away.

 
Mr. Pryor.

 
And there I was, near the start of this post, in the hallway, seeing my teacher, who I would call friend, crying for me and my broken pancreas.

 

That is the raw, shitty deal of amnesia.

I’d be more ok with not recalling the texture of my desk,  and the phenolic odor of lab tables with hints of metal chair feet scraped against linoleum , the temperature of the air, the light through the tree shaded windows of the first floor science room, the smell of pencil shavings and warm, freshly exfoliated eraser crumbs, the temperature and the sound as my hand squorsquishes into a forgotten apple in my overloaded backpack.

I could lose that stuff and not mind.

I do not feel as generous about losing whole people.

I am not comfortable with misplacing entire friends, formative experiences, or the multisensory snapshots of spaces in which my life happened.

The endless gift of amnesia is that memories are reconnected and returned erratically and surprisingly. Even the memories rife with terror and pain have value now. Focusing on the return of objective memories is almost like fleshing out a visual, spatial, olfactory timeline and I permit myself to only dive far enough in – as though a bungee tether has me anchored in the present day- to view objective details enough that the Swamp of Sadness (that took took Artu and nearly swallowed Atreyu in Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story)  cannot drag me into the sulking, sucking, stinking, deadly muck. This is a hard-earned, and worthy, skill to master, as every recall hides an abundance of pressure switches.

I have learned that even the terrifying, painful, and heartbreakingly sad memories are treasures when they are returned to me, and not because I love me some psychological torture and relish the PTSD experience, but because I’ve weathered enough in 41 years to spot the tiniest speck of glitter in a fetid heap of the ripest rot. And each wee sparkle fans out dendrites, bringing other memories closer.

I realized, a couple of weeks ago, that I don’t need many of these memories (reminds me of Harry’s rant about Auld Lang Syne in “When Harry Met Sally…”

Harry [about Auld Lang Syne]:   What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot’? Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?

Sally:    Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends.)

I don’t need them.

If I can’t remember them, I can only miss the idea of them (again, from “When Harry Met Sally…”:  Harry Burns: Maybe I only miss the *idea* of Helen… No, I miss the whole Helen.) but these content-less hunts of time, occassionally spotted with foggy islands of indeterminate terrain and potentially combative or predatory or friendly fauna hidden by strangling vines, stinging nettle, poison ivy, and heady, delicate gardenia, hold importance to me and that curiosity is not decreased by my lust for information and tireless enthusiasm for connecting ideas.

I recognize my miss-filed memories are important, to me, but I newly recognize that I cannot mourn their absence.  I am developing a more organic appreciation that most keepers of standard-issue (non-autistic, non-synesthetic) brains, who have not weathered two neurologically symptomatic endocrine tumors, do not remember every environmental, sensory, qualitative detail the way I do.

So I can relax now and not chomp at the bit quite so hard when it comes to the reclamation of every moment, every detail, every memory.

I am learning to curate my mind, my memories, my world while carefully maintaining integrity and feeding my hunger for personal objectivity through truth, facts.

It is through this (still very intentional, deliberate) curating and objectivity that I’m learning to express the more subjective and more primal parts of me (how I was trained to ignore those things is another story, for another time).

 

Rest in Peace, Mr. Pryor, and thank you. I’m sorry I misplaced you for so long and missed our friendship. You are remembered for your compassion, kindness, and your delightful wit and biting sarcasm. I’m glad I found you again.

xo,

 

Rebecca I. M.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep…

6 Mar
3 days old, first time I was allowed to hold him....

3 days old, first time I was allowed to hold him....

(I chose these image from the NICU… They don’t quite feel like a fit for the post but they kept hollering at me..)

I can only imagine how it feels to lose a baby.  Even during our ten days in the NICU, the deaths of the tiny patients were not spoken of, for us outside that baby’s family, it was marked by the absense of an isolet or incubator that was crowded with doctors and loved ones only hours before.  We knew, all the parents knew, that we were fortunate as it wasn’t our baby. But it could be. In the NICU the emotional stew that you live in is a lifetime of emotion and stress in a matter of weeks or months…It’s a lifetime compacted into a tiny room and a tiny plastic box with portholes, wires, tubes, and distressing alarms.

A little over 24 hours old...Finally got to see his face in person (the nurses gave me a polariod to have in my room a few floors away while I got the rest of my IVs)

A little over 24 hours old...Finally got to see his face in person (the nurses gave me a polariod to have in my room a few floors away while I got the rest of my IVs)

But we were lucky.  I don’t think I will ever forget how lucky we were that Alex was ok. My mother was annoyed when I mentioned other babies in the NICU, who were there before Alex and stayed long after he came home, or who “disappeared” overnight-focus on happiness, she would tell me.  I truly believe that the stark contrast of what we had, and what could have been- what was a reality for many people, makes me appreciate Alex’s survival much more.

Since Alex’s birth and many changes in the life of our family, I have, in my journey, seen friends and family lose children at all stages of development, at all ages.

I can only imagine the loss of a child. I am grateful that I can only imagine it.  Perhaps I am not imagining it accurately, but I know my love for my son, and how the possibility of losing him has felt, and the helpless, drowning sensation that his distress, prematurity,and neuro issues, and the two miscarriages before my pregnancy with him, have impacted me on so many levels…  I can only extrapolate and the place where I wind up is stifling, hot and humid, very dimly lit…I imagine it to be like a vat of a viscous substance- like molasses- drowning, muscles aching as they try to move, there are no words, but by some cruelty you can still breathe, even if it’s hard and physically hurts….I can only imagine that the reality is much more terrible that what I can imagine. My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced the loss of a child, their baby, at any age or stage.

My cousins Aimee and Julie, just introduced me to an amazing organization that helps parents who are facing the death of their baby remember their child.  The site for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep has much more detail about the program.  Here’s a paste from their about me:

“This is the place where the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation gently provides a helping hand and a healing heart. For families overcome by grief and pain, the idea of photographing their baby may not immediately occur to them. Offering gentle and beautiful photography services in a compassionate and sensitive manner is the heart of this organization. The soft, gentle heirloom photographs of these beautiful babies are an important part of the healing process. They allow families to honor and cherish their babies, and share the spirits of their lives.”

I checked out the site and I really wanted to help, to honor the families that I know that have lost a baby, which is why I’m trying to help spread the word…

They are currently running a fundraiser to support the NILMDTS mission. Our cousin Jaime  is participating in a national model competition that benefits NILMDTS.   Please consider visiting the image gallery and voting for our lovely Miss Jaime while supporting a wonderful cause.

You can see Jaime’s picture and vote for her by visiting:

National Charity Model Search benefitting NILMDTS

Every vote cost $1.00 and every dollar goes to a charity group close to our hearts, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (www.nilmdts.org). Jaime also has the opportunity to have a photo shoot with a renowned photographer if she is in the top vote count by March 15th, 2009. Please be generous and vote by then if you can! You can continue to vote until April 2nd, 2009 to give Jaime the chance to be the National winner!!
Thanks a bunch….

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Ch-ch-ch-changes…

26 Jun

Lots of changes happening in our little world right now…

thankfully baldguy has been asked to stay at his job for a couple more weeks to help transition one of the clients so that worry can get pushed away for more immediate concerns and changes…

Boy just does not transition well…The kid needs consistency…Yesterday I found out his teacher had been let go.  The two aides/teachers who work in his classroom are wonderful, but they are very different.  Over the past year I have been able to tell when his head teacher was out for the day by his behavior and attitude at home afterwards.  Transitions like this set him back so far.  We try to prepare and help him, but in this case he was told his beloved teacher was out on vacation last week… and Boy is home sick so far this week so I don’t even know if they have left a note in our box.   So there was no warning…No ability to help him transition by saying “see you later”… This could set him back months.  Gahhhhhhhh!

and he’s sick.  Kid on cough syrup (and they did not have any dye free cough syrup at walgreens yesterday) with a hefty dose of red dye #40.  No wonder my hair is falling out in handfulls this week.  He is crazed.  He is the kind of crazed that you see on Cops and zombie movies- hyper and lashing out, mumbling incoherently, shouting nonsense, utterly pantsless.   We see his ADHD most of the time and we have adjusted and it is only some of the time that he doesn’t self-sooth these days, but this week has been like living with an angry, illogical, drug addled strung out little man.  He is usually our family safety officer.  He will often request backup if I am plugging something in (because you always need to have a grown up buddy when doing things like that) and has frequently declared that plugging anything in must wait until daddy gets home… Yesterday, in his whirlwind he plugged the radio in by himself (during a huge thunderstorm)…This morning he found the one roll of film in our home and unwound it completely…I may completely lose my last marble in the coming weeks…

Anyway. Just home with boy trying to keep him out of trouble.  His ADHD in this sick and cough syrup addled state and my ADD (completely and utterly without the H) are extremely incompatible and frustration runs deep in both of us.

Ok. Enough of my babble. He is “watching” a CD on my TV.  He likes to watch the numbers count down.

I need to check my to do list and make sure I’m knocking things out….

In the next week or so I will be blogging about some new tools we are and will be implementing into our home to help with our rampant attention deficit issue (all three of us have it…) …

Speaking of which…Boy just hollered at me that we need to dance.

Ok. I’ll be back.

Hugs.

b

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