Monday, September 23, 2013

Falling into darkness

Fall's snuck in the door. The days are still semi-warm, but dripping water from the sky periodically knocks on our roofs. It's calming and peaceful and invites us to stay inside, thinking and reading and writing.

I've been savoring a heart-wrenching and interesting book by Emily Rapp called "The Still Point of the Turning World". It's a biography and grief exploration. Her son, Ronan, was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs, which means he dies by age three. She also grew up with a genetic deformity herself and had a foot amputated as a child, followed by a series of prosthetic legs. I relate to a lot of the things she writes regarding people's reactions to your life situation and your loss. The way people see you as the other and themselves and the lucky ones. Those who didn't have their kid die. Or their dad die. Or whatever bad luck that happened to stumble into your life. But even if those people think they are in a protective bubble, life happens to everyone. It will happen to you and to me. And in the end we all die, which I guess is the whole thing that makes us alive.

The other day, I had a patient in his sixties, going on and on about how he was so lucky to have never had to wear glasses. And how his parents were so lucky as well. How his dad didn't wear any glasses ever, and died in his nineties, and his mom was so lucky until she was eighty-eight when she finally needed reading glasses and then she also died in her nineties. He repeated this story over and over again during his exam about how lucky his family was. I was starting to feel like it was an attack or act of aggression or slap in the face. I wanted to say, my dad was so lucky, he never had to wear glasses either. Until he died at thirty-four.

The patient actually had not great vision distance or near and probably arrogance was more of the reason for being so lucky that he didn't have to wear glasses rather than having perfect vision. The same man proceeded in his rudeness to my assistant out front, nearly making her cry. I try not to judge people and just tell myself, "Thank god, I'm not married to that man." But that guy was something else.

Maybe I'm more sensitive right now. It's nearing the thirty year anniversary of my dad's death. I keep thinking about him and the fall and thinking about his last year here and going into the hospital and not coming out. It's hard to believe it's been that long. And it's hard to believe he ever existed. 

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