Life for my family has changed since my last post, in ways I will not count. I want to be the woman who wrote that post, without wavering. But now I have to fight the urge to protect my daughter like a china cup.
These are facts: On July 5, 2011, my daughter had an accident. The four fingers on her left hand were detached part way down. Her middle and ring fingers were too damaged to be re-attached, so are now shorter. Her pointer and pinkie finger tips were able to be re-attached–we now wait and see if they “take.” Her thumb was unharmed–excellent in terms of the ultimate function of her left hand. She is out of bandages and her hand is healing, blue fringey stitches tickling my face as I read to her before bedtime about Piglet and Pooh and all the other sweet creatures in that fictional world.
There are facts, and there’s everything else. Mostly the everything else is a rock-tumbler inside myself, shining up emotions, thoughts, and wonderings as they clunk around in my brain. Luckily some of the stones in my head include amazement at the unexpected beauty and grace this accident has brought into our lives. So many people are sending love and support and gifts and food and the list is endless. We are lucky.
Merida’s courage and strength through this has been astonishing. For truly: children are 100% brave and strong and if we step aside and give them space, and love, they know how to heal. They lead us. They help us heal. We are lucky.
And then I think about how I haven’t been able to post here, how at first I couldn’t even write in my journal (for one thing, there was no time, but also, if I wrote it down it would mean it was real, that it really happened.) And now I look up at the subtitle of my blog, which I change periodically, and find the most recent tag is a line from a Cure song that always haunts me. From “Pictures of You” the line goes:
I’ve been looking so long at my pictures of you that I almost believe that they’re real…
There are photos of her hand before the accident that are impossible to linger with, impossible not to linger with. There are photos since the accident, which at first I forced myself to take, beautiful photos, taken knowing that she (and we) will want a chronicle of her healing. Knowing that this is now her hand, her beautiful hand, and we are so lucky. Accepting that this is now how we are; this is how it is for us. She can use her left hand well, better every day, despite the injury; she still considers herself left-handed, and because before the accident, she was very strongly left-handed, she is using it now without thinking, which will help healing, and function, and help her feel like herself. Yesterday, for the first time, she played her grandmother’s violin, testing it out, to see how it feels, using both hands, making noise, bowing with her left hand. We are so lucky.
Yet it’s so hard for me to look at any pictures of her hand prior to July 5, 2011. All the bile I’ve absorbed my entire life about how a person (a girl, a woman, in particular) looks, all the propaganda and the noise joins the rocks in my head and clunks around in the mental tumbler, and I push them aside and try to stop caring about such unimportance, because I believe she will use her whole self: mind, spirit, voice, heart, body (including her left hand!) for greatnesses we cannot even anticipate. But lookism seeps in, coats the rocks with rancid unshine, and I keep trying to rinse it off. Must quickly come up with the antidote to hurtful things that other people will say to her, who knows when. Must indoctrinate her well so she feels a clear, sweet resolve when she uses whatever comebacks or affirmations we can think of that amount to, “We all have damage, some visible, some not. Nothing to see here–move along.”
When she was one month old, I wrote about filing the nails of her baby hand. The post was entitled “Safety” and it was about keeping her from scratching her face with sharp baby nails. I had no idea what her future would hold. Still don’t! And every fucking metaphor seems to involve hands, “what her future would hold,” the writer typed, thinking of hands, focussing on how her daughter still has two beautiful hands that work, and how the child is still alive and whole and strong and amazing.
We make the world. We make it! We color it, we frame it, we choose words and metaphors and say what we say to each other, and we love or dent or harm each other as we make the world, as we believe what we believe about each other. I don’t want pity for her or for us. I will make her world a fair and loving place. She will know from our hearth that she is strong and amazing and beautiful and that she can do whatever she chooses to do; she will know that fact with every part of herself.
This story may be huge in her life for a while but it will not be her only story.
9 thoughts on “I’ve been looking so long at my pictures of you that I almost believe that they’re real…”
Such a brave and inspirational story, from your emotional struggles to Merida’s oh-so-natural but beautiful resiliency.
There’s no way you will not all heal, and be stronger, together.
Thank you for sharing.
Thanks, Cyndi. I hope you are right.
Your courage and resolve have carried you through and will continue to inspire and give hope and healing not only to Merida, but to others. Brave to share so openly — and so important — beautifully important, and a deep lesson for all of us about what is truly wonderful and awesome and essential and what is not. Thank you for this post.
Virginia, thank you. I have been so inspired (and devastated, and blown away) by Emily Rapp’s blog about her son Ronan at http://ourlittleseal.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/. I know our situation is nothing like theirs, but I also know that writing can help the writer and the world. In addition to contemplating my own process here, if I’m helping others, I’m thrilled.
Thanks for sharing this. I feel like I have no good response. Tears filled my eyes as I saw the wrestling match of the trauma/blessing of you allowing the rocks to be polished; rough edges made smooth. Bless you, Rebecca, bless you.
Tricia, thank you. There are so many things to be grateful for, truly. I don’t mean to sound overly like Pollyanna, but I do, and must. :)
You write so beautifully! I keep thinking how important it is that we all continue to wash off the “rancid unshine” for Merida and all the young girls in our world. Of course, I didn’t have those words until I read this blog.
Kassie, thanks! You are right, we need to continue wash all that type of ick off everyone, ourselves included. Kinda related to some of this stuff, I heard a friend has a bumper sticker that says, “Mean people are suffering.” I want one. It explains a lot.
For anyone stopping by: Merida has healed so well. It’s amazing. She has a fully functioning left hand. Children truly are resilient and brave, and I do not need Pixar to prove that to me. :)