Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In the episode “Grief Counseling” of one of my favorite television shows The Office, office manager Michael Scott said “Society teaches us that having feelings and crying is bad and wrong. Well, that's baloney, because grief isn't wrong. There's such a thing as good grief. Just ask Charlie Brown.” A while back, before this child-cancer business, I was just talking to be talking and told Vic that I might want to pursue some kind of counseling career when I grow up (of course that was that week. If one is to dream why not spread the dream around). He said he wasn’t sure I would be very good (which was his nice way of saying he was sure I wouldn’t be very good) because I didn’t have any patience for whining. My answer would always be the same for all the clients no matter the problem. They should either do something about it or get over it and move on. True, I am not known to coddle, and prefer less talk more do, so, yes, not the best fit. I’ve never really had an intrinsical career. I spent my first almost five years in the real world as a news reporter for a small local newspaper. I was a pitiful reporter because I didn’t know how to ask questions that would build a story beyond what my interviewee was saying on his or her own. My propensity for grammatical mistakes held my writing to mediocre at best. Thankfully, I worked for the wonderful Mr. Lee Woodward, a veteran newspaper guy and a Christian man who was a patient teacher that cared about me personally. He knew I would not survive in the really real world, so he kept me, hoping that I would actually learn something before he retired and I was on my own. My reporting did not improve, and most of you have experienced the mistakes (driving in to work one day, a co-worker called me on my “Cellular One bag phone” and said they were talking about me on the local talk radio station. I tuned in just in time to hear them say something like “It’s embarrassing who they let report the news. Kristie Sharp is a good example of poor public education.” I didn’t have much of a retort because they were pointing out one of my many mistakes in the day’s paper. All I could say was that I went to a private school. I did grow somewhat of a tougher skin during those short years at the paper.). But, the one thing I think I kind of learned to do was to observe the details of a moment. In my short, small-town paper experience, I sat through court cases showing horrific pictures of crimes. I listened to emotional testimony of victims’ loved ones. I stood behind police tape just feet away from a body that had been shot multiple times in the chest with a 12-guage shotgun as the family arrived on the scene. I was escorted through a maximum security jail for aging and infirmed “lifers” that hadn’t seen a 25-year-old female very often in many years. My handful of experiences during that short time can’t compare to someone who has had a career in news journalism, or to anyone who has had a career in any emergency or law based field, but my point is that I noticed I could sit through these experiences without a hint of a flinch. Then I could write about it, again, with the no-flinching. Maybe the emotional disconnect or denial that what I was witnessing was real can be attributed to my immaturity and the lack of my own experiences which made it easier for me to write about those things I saw and heard. Whatever the reason, I could do it with a dry and open eye. So, as a natural observer, it has been interesting to be a participant in the event of which I’m observing, i.e., my son fighting an aggressive cancer and my children’s mother being removed from their lives. It’s like I have two personalities. During a weak moment of emotional darkness, my thoughts will drift to those unthinkable corners of one’s mind. My stomach tightens, my chest aches, and a burning sensation creeps up from my nose to my eyes. They quickly close tightly to diffuse the rising heat and release cooling tears down my warm flushed cheeks. My head becomes heavy and hangs to rest in praying hands raised to catch it. Then I stop and think to myself “Well, that was interesting. Why did I just do that?” I make a mental note of the time of day, the time of the month, what I ate or didn’t eat, what Eli is doing or not doing, what I am doing or not doing, where we are, who is around us, who have I talked to or not talked to, how much sleep I have had. I think to myself, what caused that emotional reaction in me, how did I handle it, why did I handle it that way. And, then I try to remember what the emotion was and how it felt. So, it is an interesting struggle and balance to be the subject and the observer. Eli has eaten so well today. I observed myself in tears over a Subway sandwich, which I analyzed could be an emotional response to Eli’s continued lack of eating or it could just be that time of the month. Really, could go either way on that one. No, no, I kid, I joke, I know the audience is mixed, but we are all adults, right?.... right? Do I need a parental rating? No, no, more kidding and joking, but seriously, he has eaten so incredibly well today. I’ve just been my usual giddy-schoolgirl-self over it, even though he did disturbingly lose even more weight today. They have prescribed him a more aggressive appetite stimulant. However, I had not given it to him, but did give him an additional nausea medicine which I think works very well for him. Again, too little too late, but we will celebrate the positives of each day as it gives them to us. So, we went to see Sherrica at the downtown Subway on Main Street and Jefferson. She gave Eli his $100 gift card courtesy of the assertive and caring heart of Barbara Peck. Eli ate the entire six-inch with few remnants, a bag of chips and most of a chocolate chip cookie and almost two medium bottles of water. Then for supper he ate almost a whole grilled chicken sandwich from CFA and small fries. None of that was done in a timely fashion. It took about an hour and a half for the Subway, but I was not making him eat, it was just a steady feed while he watched a movie. He will have blood work drawn in the morning to check his immune system, and then another CT scan to make sure the shunt is still working correctly and there has been no bleeding. If all of that is good, I hope to be writing my next post as in-patient guests of St. Jude. The picture I’m sharing tonight is of a boy I miss. I miss how he looks, how he moves, how he plays, how he feels, I miss the future of the boy in this picture. He was swept away so suddenly in such an evil manner, that during those weak moments I mentioned before I forget the blessings that followed in the wake. It takes a conscious effort every day to control one’s thoughts and remember that God blessed me with the boy in the bed next to mine. He is stronger than the boy in the picture. He is smarter than the boy in the picture. He is braver than the boy in the picture. He is more beautiful than the boy in the picture and he is a light for our God. I have to remind myself that my prayer for the boy in the bed next to mine is the same prayer I had for the boy in the picture. I am so blessed to have this boy.

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