(Random thoughts, in no particular order). I see daily in the news reports of accidents. Reports of people who die and so I think, “they have it a whole lot worse than anything I have handled”. I wonder who in the crowd handled the person who died on the M5 a few days ago. Or ponder the guy who pulled a plane crash survivor out of the water off Curl Curl beach. The counselor asked if I had cried. No, not really. A few choking moments grab you unexpectedly I said. Shrugged at her. She just smiled. Yeah, I know, it would be good to unleash that, to be a six year old and just howl it out. I’m not really sure that’s possible now, is it. There are emotional flashes but you bite down on them and they pass and you push your thoughts somewhere else. Then tonight I got involved in a Facebook chat with a friend in upstate New York who knew me well when I was a kid and teenager. Knew Joanna. She had not caught up with the accident and so asked some direct questions and made the Joanna connection immediately and without me even thinking about it. Soon I am reduced to a weeping mess. I am thankful we are not Skyping with mikes turned on. Get a grip for goodness sake. The anniversary for 9/11 rolls around and I read in the New York Times an interesting piece on PTST. Not so long along ago I think I would have dismissed that as being irrelevant. But I was startled to discover I was ticking off just about every thing they listed in terms of symptoms. But I’m tougher than that. Am I not? And what I handled was so mild in comparison to what others deal with. And he has not died, which can’t be said for other situations you have been in – and you handled them with far less emotion. His mother called at the beginning of the week. On Fathers Day actually. What a great gift that call was. She was brilliant – telling me he was now out of a coma, and validating my diagnosis of him. There were tough moments in that call when we both got very emotional. I can understand her reaction but can’t really fathom my own. Dad wrote an email telling me things I never knew about Joanna and her final ride. Then a letter from Mum recounting the trauma of being a fledgling nurse and losing toddlers on your watch, toddlers who looked like they should live but who expired despite your very best efforts. I hope their writing helped them. I sense it did. They were a joy to receive. My writing, I am told, has been helpful to others. Hearing that partly prompts this piece. On the off chance it helps. They have been printed and handed around. I am glad of that but I fear it is all now becoming a noise no one else wants to hear. Come on, it’s a couple of weeks back. The kid is alive. Get on with it. That’s my inner voice too but it gets shouted down. By other voices. By the dreams that slap me around all night. Most wake me without recall of their substance. Others wake me with vivid threats to my wellbeing and I clearly understand their roots – some former work scenarios usually. The 2a.m. breezes cools a fevered brow and I take along time to drift off , watching the shadows in the foliage backlit by the street lights. His mother insisted I visit him when he gets out of ICU. My heart leapt at that news. I don’t want to impose on them but I do so desperately want to see him and understand who he is – not as the focus of our sadness and grief but as the source of our joy and hope. Not as a victim to be assessed and managed and clinically handled but as a person to love. She does not know it but that invitation was a soothing balm. But I want to understand better too the nature of his injuries. That plagues me a little. Did I get my diagnosis right? As far as his neck was concerned it seemed I did. And so too with his broken jaw. But there are other things that stick in my mind that I want to put to bed. Least I begin to doubt my judgment. For there are well meaning types who were not there who tell me this or that was not possible. I think they want to ease for me what I am carrying, as if by denying their possibility the impression in my head is softened. That does not work – all I do is start to doubt a quickly blurring scene. But I need to know my “calls” were on the mark. It was a pleasure to be able to tell his mother he was not suspended upside down in the car, an image she had gotten from goodness knows where, and which had haunted her the two weeks after the accident. She was so relieved to hear that I found him upright. I think that will help her healing. She tells me there is nothing about the accident that she can recall so I filled her in a little on what I saw and did. When I write I sit back from it all a little. When I speak it though I get raw and hurt. So telling her some of the details made for some breathless moments. The “What ifs’ still plague me. In Spanish classes I spoke a little with one of the students in our tea break. It was a mistake and I nearly walked out of the next session. The rational in me kicked in then – “where will you go you idiot?” “And what will you do when you get there?” And who do you talk to? Do you talk? Everyone else is over it. It’s a newspaper article to be commented on and then thrown in the bin. I have been keeping an eye on the papers but I have more information from the family so the articles have been no help. But I watch for them anyway. Another banal press update yesterday. His mother can’t recall a thing, she says. So when she drives past the site it means nothing to her. Most times it means nothing to me but then I see the fuel stains and the police markings and I catch my breath. I walk along the sidewalk two or three times a week, through some of those police markings but I can’t look at the intersection where the wreck sat. Nor can I tolerate stupid driving. Am more careful about my own. And am more restrained in my judgment of mothers with kids in their cars as they hack up their parking or are plain not paying attention. Maybe there is a toddler in there distracting her. I love the connections made by the young adults and teenagers I am friends with. Calls. Texts. Chats. Are you okay? They startle me with their concern. Really? You really want to know? You are taking the trouble to ask? Not once but numerous times. I am chastened by them. When I was fifteen or sixteen I suspect I was so self absorbed I would never have thought to ask after how someone was feeling. It’s been a great flux for forging adult friendships closer too. The kettle is always on says one. Drop in “whenever”. I have been so precocious as to do that. I don’t get into the rough stuff with them but it helps to connect like that. And I think I will look back on this event as the turning point for some healing among our own immediate family. Who wants to admit we ever need that? Fact of the matter is that we all always need it. It just came at the right time for us. It was no accident that three of us (family) were on the scene. But it’s been in the openness of the discussion about the accident that the best stuff has been happening. Can I capture the passion felt the week after when we played in our band practice with a fervor we all wished we could deliver on Sunday morning? Sunday was good but it lacked that hint of magic. Sometimes I wonder at the need to keep the rawness alive. It gives what you do a certain edge. But here we are a couple of days off three weeks since the event. A few days this week and I had lost the knot in my stomach. Now it’s back. It’ll go again. But while its here I am reminded of how much has changed on the basis of so little. I want to hug people and tell them I love them. Work colleagues would frown at that. Family would think I had ‘let slip the surly bonds of earth… So too most in the community. Shame really. So I stifle those thoughts. My writing is stifled too. I am conscious of ‘holding back” even as I try and pour out, even in these reflections. Though I am hoping to tap the emotion into a new novel which is finally under way. Despite all those who surround me with their care there is a very real sense of doing this on my own and I gain a glimmer of insight into how a person can be lonely in a crowd and even to take their own life under the impression they have no support. There are some with whom I am close that I want to rage my feelings to but then they might not be so close if I did that. So at best they might catch me smiling at them. If they knew what I wanted to yell they would step away. Understandably so. He is still my final thought as my head hits the pillow each day, and my waking thought as I drift awake – or slam out of one of those dreams. Thanks for these words Gerard (floating into memory this week), that resonate right now with the crazy mix of unsettled, ruptured disposition, the beauty of all that has aligned for good and the sovereign oversight in there somewhere.
To Christ our Lord
I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.
33,331 total views, 54 views today