Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What Would You Say?

I have a topic on the other side of the weekend, as promised, just not as originally expected.  Because I did not venture out much, which was the goal.  As Saturday's rain turned to Sunday's snow, and a vague nagging headache turned into a raging pain, I abandoned all plans and potential plans and hunkered down.  I watched a lot of television; purely coincidentally choosing two movies that are both set in working class Pennsylvania towns (The Deer Hunter and Unstoppable), so I guess I "traveled" a little through the magic of Hollywood (even though The Deer Hunter at least was not shot in Pennsylvania at all).  I did actually venture out to an actual movie theatre as well.  That, unfortunately, was not a good experience.   I knew, having seen the building from the outside, that I was likely to be a little underwhelmed by the ambience, but an admitted movie snob who had her favorite venues in Austin pegged in terms of sound, visual quality and then concessions, it was worse than I expected.  Onward we go:  I'll try the next closest theatre soon and so on until I find what I need before the summer blockbusters.  Ultimately, my search for a good movie house may be what finally propels me out the door.  I just hope I find it.

But, that's not much to write about.  What happened to me of note actually was the event that caused the raging headache in the first place and has been on my mind ever since.

As I woke up Sunday morning to Cheyenne's "time to go potty, Mom" whines, I realized I had my jaw so tightly clenched I was bound to be in trouble.  As I sat up, drowsy and hazy, trying to shake off the night, I had to nearly will my face to relax and my teeth to stop grinding against one another.  And I knew why.  I had been racked with a series of vivid and bad dreams, the primary of which was that I dreamt Kelsey was alive.  Alive,  but not doing well.  I knew if I didn't do or say the right thing she would die soon.  The only thing keeping her alive, in my dream, was her art.  I dreamt she was in business with one of her friends - the particular friend shifted a few times as the dream went on - but it was her lifeline; she found a purpose in the art and didn't want to let her friend down.  But she was very sick and suffering terribly.   In my dream she was everything she had been in life at the end:  a jumble of conflicting emotions, difficult to be around and talk to, and impossible to reason with.  The families of ED sufferers know - and I knew in the dream - that the malnutrition plays ugly games with one's body chemistry and makes the person act in ways that they might not if they were healthy, but it doesn't mean that's easy to handle, and Dream Me struggled to be around her and deal with her just like Real Me had.  Yet, as will happen in dreams, I knew this was not a drill, and that she was close to dying because she had died before and this was my second, but last, chance.  I had to say and do the right things to save her.  And, in my dream, it was squarely and entirely on my shoulders.  So, Dream Me was trying to use her art to save her because I thought it was the only way to reach deep down and connect with the real girl hiding beneath The Beast.  Then, suddenly, the dream shifted, and I ended up dreaming about something that somehow involved Adrien Brody.  I swear.  (I think it's because of his beer ad that I keep seeing during hockey, which I had been watching when I fell asleep.)

I have no idea if, had the dream kept going, I would have saved her or not.  Maybe that's why my mind shifted gears on me - the disease is so complicated, no one knows if I could pull it off, least of all me.  Yet, in the breaking dawn, I was left with two thoughts:  her art might really have been the key to saving her, and if I had known somehow that she was really about to die, what would I have chosen to say to her.  If I'd invested in trying to market her art, maybe she could have found an outlet for her pain that would have given her reason to live.  Maybe all the things about life she took out on her own body, she could have poured onto a canvas.  However, it's that last thing that stuck with me as the day wore on and the headache deepened:  as sick as I knew she was, and as much as I had told myself to take it seriously because it could kill her, I never actually thought it would happen.  Not really.  I knew it was that serious on an intellectual level, but on an emotional level, I never thought it would come to that.  As I've chronicled, not only did I leave her with no final words of love, comfort or wisdom, we fought right before I left for West Virginia, never to see her again.

Most of the people I know have suffered a loss.  Some can say that in the plural.  What I wonder is did they leave things left unsaid, or were they better at telling their lost ones what they should/needed to?  Maybe more importantly, since it is too late to re-write the past, what would any of us say to our loved ones if we knew we'd never see them again.  And, what are we waiting for?  Why aren't we saying it?  I never considered that I would never see my daughter again.  But, I didn't.

So, what would you say?  And who would you say it to?

Kelsey, if you can somehow hear me/read this from wherever you are, I should have told you how much I love you, what an incredible talent you are, and how much I wanted you to live and get better to share that incredible art with the world.

The Deer Hunter, Universal Studios, 1978

1 comment:

  1. You didn't believe it because we (people) aren't wired that way. I seem to remember you and I having that conversation in how it relates to dogs. You go out your door for 1 hour or 10, doesn't matter, when you come back in your dog acts as if you have been gone a lifetime. As if they were never going to see you again and miracle of miracles you have some how managed to return and they are so excited. We think dogs are silly for doing that. But really, who is the wiser? The dog understands you might not come back through that door, and is truly happy and thankful when you do -- as we ourselves should be. We're the ones who are silly for believing it will never happen. We know it will, intellectually - but we don't believe it. - V.