Friday, January 18, 2008

Marion, Massachusetts

Karl was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday. We’ve been back at his mom’s house a full 24 hours now, and I feel like a light’s been turned back on, as crazy as that sounds. I’ve been remembering our first couple of weeks together back on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Our second week together was at Trail Days in Damascus, the big trail festival a quarter of the way through. I couldn’t write then the things I can write now: how one night, at a campfire, Karl wandered off with another friend and I had this mysterious feeling like someone had turned off a light. We were outside, by a fire, in the darkness, under the moon and stars, and I kept looking over my shoulder, thinking “Who turned off the light? Wasn’t there just a lamp on?” When Karl came strolling back, I breathed deeply--the light was back.

That’s how I feel now. I don’t think I realized just how afraid I’ve been this last month. I’ve been making my way through every day on the edge of terror, afraid to even acknowledge my fear, unable to put it into words. If I say it aloud, it will be true. The fear manifested itself as a very odd emotion for me, anger. I don’t generally get very angry, but I kept erupting these last weeks, once at the doctors in Chattanooga, another couple of times here at how powerless I felt to get around, to stay on top of all the paperwork, to wrestle with the telephone calls. One operator at MassHealth, well-meaning I’m sure, told me that they weren’t covering Karl’s Chattanooga hospital stay because he didn’t have a “life-threatening illness.” I hung up on him. I’ve dealt with it now, consulted with doctors and insurance advocates, and we’ll appeal the decision, but at that moment I pushed over the edge.

My dreams keep haunting me. I’m happy sometimes that I can process that way, in my sleep, although I think if I told a therapist honestly everything that goes on in my head while I dream I’d be put away. I remember another dream I had that same week of Trail Days. Karl and I had been together nine days, so it must have been May 13. In the dream, Karl was shot in the chest and bled out while I held my hands against his heart. I kept thinking, “at least we had nine days.” I’ve had similar dreams over the last couple of weeks, one in which half of an unrecognizable decomposing corpse was kicked around the middle of a road. The last two nights that he was in the hospital, I wasn’t able to sleep at all. I lay awake for hours, watching the clock, 2:30, quarter to four. It was easiest to sleep, if the least comfortable, when lying an arm’s length away on the hospital cot, able to reach over and squeeze his elbow.

The last two nights, since he’s been back, I’ve slept deeply and dreamlessly. He’s sleeping too, right now, most of the day and most of the night, but I’m thrilled just to sit next to him and listen to him breathe, to watch the vestigial meningitis-related grimaces he still makes, to watch the smiles and twitches cross his face. We even looked back and laughed last night about the one night when his brain actually went, that one terrifying night when I thought I might be losing the Karl I love forever. He remembers everything he said that crazy night, when he was so honest and so alone and so lost. A nurse said to me that day, off-handed, “Sometimes these things are reversible and sometimes they aren’t.” The statistic from when my brother had viral meningitis kept floating through my head: forty percent of people with meningitis have brain damage...

So now I hope I can keep my scary dreams away for a little while longer, that I can begin to sleep again. Visions of Secret still float at the edge of my consciousness, and I have to keep remembering the roots of this blog, that for us casting off doesn’t mean sailing but ridding ourselves of attachments: to the idea of perpetual health and invulnerability, maybe, to that precious boat, even. Nappy did call, though, and said he and his wife are praying for us. Secret, he said, is still fine, bobbing away at anchor. I pray she can make it through a couple more weeks of winter gales. That’s all we can do now, hope and trust that whatever path we should take be made clear.

(A link to the post I made the day Karl and I first began hiking together. You’ll notice I then took two weeks off. And that, my friends, is a picture of the infamous tree, under which our history was written.)


An-Magritt said...

Hey Melissa!
Sorry for this delayed response, I haven't checked your blog for a while. Stunned to read about Karl, and so glad that things are improving. Prayers for him and continued recuperation. I am glad that your light came back on, that was a very capturing image.
Prayers for both of you, to feel God's peace in penetrating droplets and powerful waves.
Good on you for being open; we all have times of questions and God is big enough. Take care, my friend. Also, sorry to have missed your birthday, but didn't know you were a January baby! Happy 30th, young one;) Hug, an-ma

Melissa said...

Hi An-Magritt--

Great to hear from you, and thanks so much for your prayers and thoughts. I'm hoping everyone will bear with me as I struggle through these next few weeks, trying to find a way out of this unexpected forest that has risen in our path. Maybe I should fly to Norway for a while? If only.

All my love,

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa
Been wondering about you two. My prayers are with you both. And happy belated birthday.
Remember the book of Job- I took a seven week course on that small book of the OT. What I took away was that God does not punish, he/she only wants faith. True knowledge doesn't exist, only faith. With such a greater plan and will, how do we ever know why life takes one path or another? With enough faith we are rewarded only with the comfort that by trusting God's will we are faithful and no earthly harm can interfere with our final peace with God. You are not punished, my dear. You are tested and already alright. You are God's child and no parent would allow suffering unless it meant there was a lesson. And no parent would abandon their child throughout that suffering. Hang in there. Don't forget, I am only on the other side of town if you need help. 295-4690.

Melissa said...

Wow, Brita, what a great response. Here now when I've been wondering so much about the essence of faith. I'll be sure to give you a call when I feel up to it--I'm sure Karl would love to hear from you, too.


Anonymous said...

This post is one of the most romantic things I have ever read.