I wrote this note and posted it to an email list to which I belong. It's a list for families dealing wiht brain injury in the family. People with sons in comas, people with spouses learning to walk and talk again. I've been told by these folks that I have a way with words at times and that is how I started this blog to begin with. So, it seemed reasonable to include from time to time some of those focussed ramblings. I'm not lecturing anybody, because these friends of mine by and large are so much smarter and wiser than I am. But sometimes I amuse them, sometimes I make them laugh and so with my own son not really going anywhere, not learning to walk or talk...mostly just laying there in his bed or wheelchair....I put my energies toward things I seem to do well. I got my words, I have my thoughts like seedlings popping out of a compost heap. I got my ramblings based on all those big fat books and little bitty books written mostly by dead folks. I do this knowing from personal experience that sometimes we die sooner than later and it's real hard to backtrack and write something for those who may yet slide out of a bed and struggle along on twisted feet and sheered neurons, trying to understand why things don't work anymore. If you live long enough, everybody will pass thru this phase.
The Greeks were famous for many things, especially their plays. They wrote a lot of plays. The Brits had Shakespeare, whoever he was, and he wrote a lot of plays. I have noticed that when you have societies that place a lot of emphasis on plays and such there is a fair mix between comedies, dramas and tragedies, which is very much like life is...a good mix. Then you have those terrible tragedies where everybody dies...the girl dies, the man dies, the little baby dies.......audiences walk away crying and talking about it all. I think those societies where you have those deep, meaningful plays where people walk away talking about life and relationships and Fate tend to be well remembered, sometimes even defining moments in the history (or herstory if you like) of our people. The Golden Age! Well, our society doesn't have many plays with tragedy in them. We go for farces and slapstick....which is enjoyable, but defines a society with the collective age of maybe 11. So these stories of ours, families living with brain injury, are not welcome by and large. Not enough sex, not enough slapstick....although that bit with the frying pan was good.... I think we should send some of us to Sundance Film Festival and try to snag some hungry film maker and get a couple of really good, accurate tragedies written about us, about these connections we've made. I would think that some writer would get excited about the implications, especially when viewed against the New World Order. This list is like some kind of 21st Century version of Cabaret with lines of dancing chickens in the background. I find it terribly ironic, so many of these stories balence neatly against the headlines and yet we can, at best, get a small piece in a local paper in the third section near the TV guide. But our daily struggles with getting up, fixing breakfast, washing clothes...each act is touched, if not tainted, by BI! It's like a bad running joke, a husband who has to be up and pissing in the back yard several times a day, kids getting well enough to make it back to school only to be mugged by other "well" kids, mothers trying to convince a policeman that the looney in the cell needs their meds RIGHT NOW or things are gonna get ugly!
When I look at what passes for literature and playwriting in many of the national venues I just wonder...... Lately I've gotten real thin skinned about the word "coma". Wonder why? Well sometimes when the dishes are done and I'm munching a sandwich I turn on the tube. Some beautiful gal in a tight low cut sweater is telling some other bimbette that since she got out of her coma, Neal hasn't been as friendly to her...maybe it's his wife again, the bitch! So I turn the channel or pop in a friendly movie and I see Robin Williams popping out of his coma to dance and sing and lead the other long term care patients in Broadway songs! There's a long list of shows with coma in them and none of them as far as I can tell have ever required the writer to actually talk to someone whose LO is IN a coma or who has emerged from a coma. Come on down to Lake Katrine and see things the way they are....talk to the people down there and see if they make good comedy fodder. Only if you like laughing at folks in wheelchairs trying and failing, and trying and failing, but never quiting and never really getting a lot of emotional support from a kindly, funny-but-wise doctor. Most of the emotional support I have seen has been from folks who have been there. Folks like you.....
So, the "things" we are accepting are the struggles, the crazy up and down life, WAY out of control emotions and a gradual accumulation of very good pharmaceutical knowlege. That and variations of a mix of faith and hope and resignation. Good stuff for Greek tragedies, though. Not so hot for Broadway or Fox Channel. We could offer the rights to that dance-with-frying-pan, or "Will tries to make it back to the kitchen with his pockets full of eggs". I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeVille!
Will, Jon's musing dad