Saturday, March 28, 2009


It seems not kosher to write about this on a poetics/disability blog, but I am a writer. I write.

I have had a friend in the hospital for two weeks. He is seriously ill, although improving slightly. This friend has been in and out of my life for twenty years. Someone who I consider in my inner-most circle, almost family. This event has left me guilty, distraught, obsessed, angry. 

In my short life, I have lost four people intensely close to me -- a sister (her age 17), a boyfriend (his age 21), a stepmother (her age 35), and my dear grandfather (age 80). My corresponding ages were 18, 22, 30, and 35. Way too much grief for a young person. I am practiced at grieving.

I am convinced that I never grieved my sister fully, despite writing numerous poems based on her and getting a tattoo with her name. Despite the fact that there are at least four children floating throughout the world named after her. My sister's death was the worse case senerio; she was happy and loved by everyone. Her death, although by illness, was sudden. She changed many, many lives and I am just now, 15 years later, beginning to process the change her death caused in so many; not only profound changes in her parents and siblings, but her grandmother, her own friends, my friends, even the entire generation of children who never met Aunt Emma. 

My anger with my friend now comes from the amount of isolation I feel. I feel like, where are the people who I thought loved me? At the moment, I feel so uncared about. This is because when I mention what I'm going through to person after person; collegues, even relatives and close friends, they quickly change the subject. So, I am in a bind. I want to be quiet, I want to draw into myself, take to my bed, but I know this is not healthy. Yet, when I 'reach out' I don't get a great response either. 

I know how hard it is for people. I know when illness is brought up that people don't know what to say. They feel uncomfortable. Getting sick is something people don't want to think about. But, I wish people would. I wish people could deal and it makes me angry that they don't. This is the fundamental reason that society cannot deal with people with disabilities, of course. 
I wish schools would teach this stuff. Perhaps Kubler-Ross's 'Of Death and Dying' should be required reading. How can we live, if we don't know how to deal with illness? 

1 comment:

Marc Nasdor said...

Jennifer, your post brings up an ongoing discussion in my head. Death vs. abandonment/separation by the living who continue to live.

Reminds me of an interview I once read, a woman was asked whether, given the choice, she would prefer to be a divorcee or widow. Unequivocally, she answered "widow," admitting that she was shocked by her own response.

Having lost many friends and relatives over the years, somehow that kind of loss (death) because of its inevitability (even when untimely), is personally preferable to abandonment. The death of a loved one freezes one's thoughts of one's relationship with the deceased in the best of times. With abandonment, the mind and heart are frozen on the worst aspects of the "lost" person's personality. A loved person is kept alive in others' memory. The abandoner leaves an empty and unresolved hole.

It is so important to keep sending out love spores as often as possible.