Off Course

Last week Sadie and I escaped to an island of the coast of North Carolina. We needed to rest…to reflect…to feel the sea air and let the endless sound of the ocean cover all the thoughts that run through my mind these days. I think of Liz. I think of her lying in her hospital bed…I think of where she could be had we listened to the misguided at best…but overwhelmingly incompetent doctors that said she would not live. Those doctors that thought with the flip of a switch and the injection of a drug…they would be rid of a problem patient that they did not know how to cope with. I wanted to call on the healing waters and powers of the sea for some relief for me and my family from the troubled state this has put all of us in. We live in the same world we had before August 10, 2008….but now something uninvited has become a part of that world and shows no signs of leaving.
She lives. She talks…she feels…and she hopes to one day move like she did before this cruel disease went to battle with her body and almost won. We live…we work…we wonder…if we didn’t know our sister before…how will we ever know her now?
We stand by…we can’t fight this battle for her. We know so little of the past many years of her life…years when she was at war with life on battlegrounds of unknown locations and for causes that were not part of our reality. News came to us of Liz being here…or there…with this person…maybe someone new…it was sometimes hopeful…sometimes sad…often unbelievable and sometimes maybe even true…but always, always, left everyone with a sense of depression and unsettledness. Her life was a mystery to us…to me. We knew she was out there somewhere fighting demons whose names we didn’t recognize. It seems so long ago and part of me longs for that time to come back as distressing as it often was…it seems vastly better than right now. Somewhere out there she was larger than life…but she moved and walked and functioned as a person. She was so far from helpless physically, and the emotional disabilities that sent her on these quests…they were nothing compared to being sruck down helpless.
I sit on the porch of the bach house and I wait. In our separate parts of the country We wait…her parents…her siblings. All eight of us…just like the pelicans doing a fly by in front of the beach house today. Eight pelicans in a perfect flying formation…going somewhere…a solid team. But as I watch… one pelican veers of course and takes a direction away from the formation….this pelican decides for whatever reason to abandon the group and the flight plan…this pelican goes alone. The others fly on.It reminds me of my us…the eight very different people who are a family that has been fractured. The seven of us went on years ago…Liz flew off course. Our flight plans took us to school and to establish our own family and careers. She had brief stints at these things…but nothing lasting.
Now there seems to be something permanent in her life and I pray to God that it becomes as fleeting as the many other things that came and went over the years. I search for the tiniest of signs that this disease will pack up and take all the horrible effects it brought with it in a moment of time and disappear forever.
The smaller her improvements, the greater my hope. She feeds her self with her one useful hand. Its a victory. She stands for a few seconds….its cause for celebration. I see these small steps with the highest of expectations…for her…and selfishly for our fractured family…that we have a second chance to become eight going in the same direction once more…a chance for Liz to rejoin the flying formation like the pelicans and maybe for the rest of us to understand where she went and why when she left us. ..or did we abandone her…did we fly too high and too fast for her to keep up with us? It seems we will have some time now to figure this out if figuring it out is at all possible. For today though, she is here…she is coming back…she lives.