I feel as though I will go insane.
I'm standing next to my mother, doned in all black. I stand at the right, closest to the casket. We are shaking hands with strangers, or those that we flat out never liked.
We shook hands because that is what you do at funerals. It's "polite".
For a whole agonizing hour, we stood next to the casket that cradled the body of my brother, dead at the age of twenty. I am 16 months his senior, and Mom and I are both playing the part of "Dealing Just Fine Thanks". As that hour drew to a close, I became aware of other family members milling about, murmuring: "It's just SO tragic...."
And it was. Two weeks after arranging music and delivering the eulogy of a Philip not a single person ever met but I, the ground before me slipped into a haze. I heard gut wrenching screams (in my head, I suppose? For the intensity grew so rankling it felt as though the screams were slipping out of the mouth of a person standing next to me...standing within me..) I was baffled and confused and angry and the curtain dropped.
The stage lights darkened.
I had a nervous breakdown, and at the age of twenty one. A shocking set of thoughts took center stage, the dance had presumed. The wild twirls and a tangle of limbs gliding along lyrical phrases of the viola. A stunning performance, one to leave a person speechless.
The image I invited you to at the spectacular music hall was not the delirium expected by someone who'd temporarily gone mad.
IT'S JUST SO TRAGIC
IT'S JUST SO TRAGIC
but it didn't need to play out on the stage that way forever. And when I walked out of the locked doors of what is known in the hospital as "the safe place", I knew never to waste a tragedy again.
From the time of the last post, as I raise the curtain for you to take a glance at my personal life for a moment, my body shifted into catabolism. Y body became carnivorous of itself, the ever fascinating prospect of The Shrinking Man playing out before all the world to see.
Except the onlookers were not witnessing an optical illusion upon the magician's stage. Rather, it was the TRAGEDY of my family and friends and others who loved me just as well witnessing a 25 year old young woman losing her body and her health and her life.
Could it get any worse? Could it get any worse?
Why yes! That is a dangerous question you see, as it can always, always get worse.
To spare details, there familiar tune of insurance humming a dissonant tune of why a dying person may not receive a life saving intervention.
Then there was the unexpected dancer floating in through the left (what the old world claimed as "sinister"...) hovering around a darkened and empty stage. She is searching fervently in every nook and cranny of her own heart and soul. The melody escaping from the orchestra pit is one that wraps around the very essence of a person...as a whole. The lone dancer's movements remain coordinated, gravitating toward the center.
The voice of a little girl, acappella:
"Ashes, ashes, we all fall down"
The lights dim and all is shrouded in darkness.
But only for a little while...
Our lone dancer has crumpled in the center, still as stone. The music strikes up a sound of Urgency intertwined with...victory?
There is a team of other dancers whirrling in and lifting up the one who has fallen and the music presses on. In formation nothing short of breathtaking, they lift her up. The tune of Victory makes itself more and more dominate.
Yet that first dancer isn't moving on her own and the curtain drops.
The show is over.
Why is the show over?
The sound of victory will be the one to call upon many outcomes. The story of that person's life changes, because hurt and pain never last forever. Suffering only goes for as long as the one befallen with the affliction will hold it close. The minute it is cast aside, the element of suffering is done.
Suffering is optional.
The dancer who we never saw rouse again...this does not depict health related issues exclusively. It merely shows what exactly the dusk before the dawn looks like. And no matter who is standing beside the afflicted, the search within before the next act appears is always done alone.
Victory sometimes looks like defeat...especially in the case when victory means the soul of a person leaves this realm and crosses to another.
Because when all are present to show their respects, or titter about, or wail with sorrow...
...or stand as the one with who's life you may have shared. And stand before 200 people and reveal a part of the one who's gone that no one ever knew. And share with all the concept of Love and how none ever share it as often as we know we should.
Then take a trip to a safe place.
Stand up and show all who will see that this tragedy is being morphed into a victory. There is one who will share how all of this will come about.
Just please hold on...
In my case, this struggle's Victory deemed I live. The photo shows a type of permanent vein access that infuses a special type of nutrition into the blood stream. TPN, as I've spoken of before. Due to the nature of my illness, this setup will be the cliched "new normal".
But more importantly, to carry on as a source of support, as one who will dare ask questions (even ones that may get the asker in trouble), plug on and continue to be a voice for those who can't do so on their own.
But one last thing. This blog is still in its infancy. On January 5th, 2009, my brother Philip made the transition from being with us here on this Earth to being taken Home to be with the Lord. He was barely 20 years old.
There were many in the funeral home who called this a tragedy.
But I am here to make sure that it doesn't stay that way.
We all have a story, even in the way that we fly home. But not all get a narrator.
Philip does though. And I am glad to tell his.
Ad memoriam: Philip Nicholas Peterson. October 25, 1988 - January 5, 2009.