Today I am reminded that I am lucky. Even though I was born with cerebral palsy with the exception of my orthopedic surgeries I have only been hospitalized for “normal” things, pneumonia, strep throat, the flu. My immune system isn’t exceptionally weak, in fact, I am almost never sick and I have never even come close to organ failure, thank goodness. My cerebral palsy did not come with a long list of other diagnoses, things to complicate and maybe shorten my life. So most days I forget that my CP reality isn’t everyone’s. Then someone who also has CP dies and just how lucky I really am shows up in the stark black-and-white newsprint of the obituary column.I often tell people that just because I have cerebral palsy doesn’t mean I know everyone with cerebral palsy in the state. I don’t know everyone but I do know a lot of people from my age group. I didn’t know Kimmy Jones as well as I might have even though we went to the same college and summer camp but I do know that she made a lot of people smile and laugh and as far as I know never did anything but inflate and enhance the lives of others. That is the best any of us can hope to be remembered for when we die.You will be missed, Kimmy.
I’ve been thinking about synchronicity of life lately and, perhaps because of a lack of my usual dose of antidepressant medication, grief and the process a person goes through dealing with it. In case you haven’t seen this picture before this is a picture of Mary Todd Lincoln taken sometime after Pres. Lincoln’s death by assassination. Some people are adamant that the white blur is Lincoln’s ghost. Others are equally certain that the photographer doctored the picture which could have been done even in that day and age. I prefer to believe that Lincoln was doing the best he could do to comfort a distraught wife, whose mental health had been severely shaken by her husband’s dramatic and untimely death on top of the death of one of her children.
I find I have a lot of empathy for Mrs. Lincoln. Grief can be a long dark hole to climb out of. Several years ago I lost a friend to Lyme disease and even though I have continued on I would be foolish to tell myself that I had done much healing. Until recently. So to continue the tradition of putting emotionally big, scary things in writing rather than not saying them at all, I wrote letters to them both, one to my deceased friend, and one to the living man who sometimes speaks with such a similar voice that it is very eerie.
You stole my heart at 14 and never gave it back. I never meant to love you. I tried to hate you . I really did. You weren’t hearing any of it. You made space for me in your life. You made the ordinary and mundane special and the special extraordinary You were the first person without my last name who made time and effort for me as a matter of course. You were, and to date still are, the only guy who has driven to where I was living at the time and said “we’re going somewhere” just because you wanted to, no special request or reason required. I should have stolen a kiss the day we went to Cracker Barrel, pushed us off the ledge we had been walking for 10 years. I bet we would’ve flown, at least for a while. I grew so much because of you, and if its been a little harder to breathe now that your gone ifa little pain is the price I pay for having known you at all I’m ok with that.
Then life has a way of sneaking a reminder of the past in the back pocket of your
most worn pair of jeans, folded up small like a half forgotten receipt or a note you got passed leaving class. The barest whisper of cologne or soap, The I love yous never quite spoken but actions that say it in foot high letters from a sky writer in neon colors.
I can’t remember if I ever said outright that I was in love with my teacher friend. I may have, goodness knows we talk about everything under the sun and back again. If I didn’t it wouldn’t surprise at all if you figured it out. When I found out he’d died I was quite literally sick. Since then well my world went quieter. Not silent but a whole lot quieter. Then you showed up and something I hadn’t realized was still broke has really started to heal instead of being haphazardly stitched together by the passage of time. Anybody who has known me for a while can tell you that religion and I do not make easy bedfellows. I do believe that people come into each others lives at the exact moment they are needed I believe you were sent to help me heal in a way no one could. It’s in a half dozen things you’ve said, the least of which is that math doesn’t hate me. We talk about anything and everything and occasionally I’ll get an image him watching our conversation and I’ll look in time to see him wink or smile, or smother a laugh. He’ll catch my eye for just a second and walk away and I always get an impression of See I wasn’t going to leave you alone, you’ll be ok. He’s right.
Spring is here again. It happens every year this changing of the seasons, but as the wheel turns again towards the annual rebirthing of the Earth I can’t but think of those who won’t see this spring. Some people view grief as something to be worked through and eventually left behind. I wish I could see it that way but I can’t. Recently I saw grief described as “loving someone who is no longer alive.”This is by far the most accurate description of grief for me and why I refuse to apologize for the tears I shed for people.
Charles Quentin Prophet: Best Great Uncle Ever. We’ll go fishing someday.
Eugene Prophet: I couldn’t ask for a better great grandfather. Lots of people from your generation would’ve been less than accepting of my disability. Thanks fpr lovimg me as is.
Betty Prophet: The Cat Who books aren’t the same without you to share them with. I love you.
Mary Kathrine Megar : Neapolitan ice cream and the story behind the Marlin above the fireplace.
Randy “Shank” Richards : Dad misses you every day and so do I. We’ll have that beer you missed when I turned 21 next time I see you.
Kurby Owen: The closest thing I’ve had to a second father. I miss you doesn’t cut it.
Nathan Fry: I miss you doesn’t cut it for you either, at least you knew that before you died.
They say grief is a cycle but sometimes it sounds like it will end, it doesn’t .I cut my hair every other year for a young man who died when I was ten. I drink a bit of alcohol for a classmate who didn’t live to see legal drinking age. I keep track of the birthdays of teenager who never knew his biological dad and is probably alive today only because his father made the split second decision that his own life was less important than the life of his unborn child and fiancee . I will fight for my independence from my family, I will own my dreams and realize them for the brother who gave me armor and a sword to fight my own battles but never got to see his dreams before his time was done. I stand with ready Clan at my side and strength of those that have gone before me at my back. To all the naysayers and pessimists I laugh in your face. Watch. I will shine brighter than you ever thought possible.
While reading through the posts on another blogging community I am part of I came across this one and I realize that I have had to deal with this phenomenon recently myself. Within the past year I have lost two very dear friends, both of whom were and still are on my friends list on Facebook. I can tell you from first-hand experience that the automated messages that Facebook sometimes generates suggesting that you help the deceased find friends are jarring. I can best describe the feeling as something similar to the feeling get walking down a set of stairs and skipping one on accident, it almost feels like you have to catch yourself to keep from falling. Every time this happens I find myself having to blink away tears. In spite of this I can’t bring myself to remove them from my list of people. Why? It is not because I refuse to accept the fact that they’re dead, I know this. I have shed copious amounts of tears over both of their absences. Having been through the grieving process several times in my life I am aware that at some point the memory of the deceased persons face becomes blurred as though it has been smudged with an eraser and it becomes difficult to remember details. These two people have mads such a difference in my life that I can’t stand eve the thought of forgetting their faces. Their profile pictures are reassuring somehow and for me at least outweighs the discomfort caused by the abrupt reminders of reality that Facebook occasionally sends.
Sometimes you really can’t say enough. I can say that without your help it is very likely I wouldn’t have graduated high school with a regular diploma. I can say that you taught me to self advocate, how to work within the disabled student system without letting it steam roll me and get away with things it shouldn’t, well before I actually had to in college, that was invaluable. You taught me to weave and even fixed a loom so that it was “handicap accessible.” That loom saved my sanity when I was in the hospital for a month. You made time for me and took me out just because. You cooked for me. We ate a sackful of hamburgers and talked until 2 A.M. I can write all of this and more and still not begin to say what you meant to my life. When the screaming and crying stopped all I was left with was an awful headache, a suddenly empty stomach,and shock. Now that the shock is wearing thin., I am left with….space. A void. I’m not going to ask why you left now, you always did things on your own timetable and heck with what others expected. Some people say that when you die you get to see yourself from the view of the people whose lives you influenced whether it was positive or negative you feel the emotional impact. I hope so because you’ve done me at least a lifetime worth of good. By the way you don’t have to worry so much, I’m ok . I have a good man who doesn’t give a damn about my chair or anything else related to my disability The universe didn’t just break the mold when they made you Nathan, they used a different wheel. You are always loved.
Today a light went out. A dear family friend passed on this morning. Kurby Owens is survived by his wife Sondra and his two daughters Danielle and Delaney. He will be remembered as a steadfast and loyal friend and a loving father. You will be missed greatly. You gave me the gift of a body that works even if it is pixelated and only exists within a computer generated world. You gave me the ability to dance and I will never be able to thank you for. I love you and I will miss you for the rest of my life.