Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Update on Emery-Sunrise

I want to let my readers know that Emery, the little lady that I wrote about in an earlier post has made some recent progress.

At the urging of several friends and aquaintances, she sought out a new doctor, who has assured her that he has options for dealing with her serious health problems. She has agreed to more tests to determine if she is a candidate for some new treatments that he has in mind for her.

She is faithfully wearing the scapular necklace that I gave her every day. In accordance with my instruction that it will only be effective if worn with total confidence of its healing powers, she has stopped agonizing out loud over her problems, and is making a strong effort to smile, breathe deeply and even laugh more than usual.

I watch her catch herself as she begins to think about saying something negative; she takes a deep breath, presses her lips together tightly, and smiles with determination.

She is reading a book today that another friend recommended. It's titled: Being Happy.

"It's a really good book!" she told me, with enthusiasm.

Things seem to be looking up for Emery. I think it is because she is now looking up.

photo courtesy of J. Choate, 2008

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Seasons turning

Well, it is mud season here in the great Northeast of the U.S.A. Winter's back is finally broken and we have tumbled into the rainy, raw month of March.

Last week when Mac, Rigby and I went for a late afternoon walk, we turned a corner and were confronted by a squadron of about a hundred blackbirds filling a dormant maple tree, squawking and jockeying for position on the bare branches. A little further on, another dark cloud of them, mostly Grackles, descended on the neighborhood. They are dark and mostly non-descript, while some sport pale, yellow eyes or deeply wedged, boat-tails. They are suddenly everywhere. The Swallows may not be returning to Capistrano with such faithful resolve, but the grackles have not let us down.

Now it is getting difficult to find the Juncos, the little slate-colored birds with the snow-white bellies that ply the ground under the hedgerows and patrol the weedy margins of the yard. Some folks call them "Snowbirds" because they seem to follow the cold. I saw one yesterday, all alone, looking as if he he was trying to find a flock to fly north with, now that these clacking, squeaky invaders had landed.

A big storm rolled up the east coast on Friday and had been soaking us with waves of cold rain all this weekend. Last night, gales buffeted the trees and rooftops throughout the night, and the Charles river has come up out of its banks today. Despite the seemingly nasty weather, I can feel the gray blanket of my seasonal depression lifting off my shoulders and something like enthusiasm for life budding inside me at my core. I feel like I am waking up from a soul coma. This evening's twilight will be the longest coming since last fall when we moved the clocks back. Last night the time sprung ahead again, and I almost forgot about it. I remembered just in time to avoid missing Mass this morning.

This afternoon, Mac came into the kitchen where I was concocting a savory stew for dinner, and announced that there was a Cardinal out on the top of the sycamore tree in the side yard, "...singing his brain out."
He wondered out loud why the bird seemed so happy, considering the weather we are enduring this weekend.

"It's because he knows that the best weather is coming now!" I said to him, as I dropped a handful of celery into the pot.
That bird knows the winter is over and he's full of joy because of it; So am I!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Frail fairy

There is a woman I know who was a puzzle to me, until now. The first time that I ever saw her, I wondered at the way she approached me, tentatively, almost as if she was afraid. As she came toward me across the room, I was struck by her appearance. She was like a little bird, maybe four and a half feet tall, a delicate being with wispy hair, large moist eyes and a drawn face. Weighing about ninety pounds, she was trembling as she came closer to me that day that we first met. She made me think of a little fairy woman, fresh from some Celtic glade, leary of contact with mortals.

At first, I was impatient with her skittishness and lack of confidence. It took me some time to realize that Emery lives in dread. Emery is a prisoner of worry, anguish and despair, and drags those chains around with her every day of her life. She doesn't sleep much, although she is very tired most of the time and she is plagued by phobias. Finally, I've learned why.

See, Emery has been damaged. When she was born, she was frail and suffered from birth defects that required many surgeries and much isolation. Her family let her know that she was a burden on them. Her siblings resented the attention she got because of her physical limitations and hospitalizations. Her mother let her know she was a big disappointment and would never measure up to the other kids. Most horrifying of all, a trusted family member molested Emery when she was seven. She was a precious little child, sick, and nobody protected her. Everyone failed her.

Those who failed Emery aren't suffering now. None of them are are in prison paying for the things they did to her. They don't seem to be burdened with guilt for the way they treated her. In fact, her parents are dead now and those relatives who are still alive have abandoned her, and seem not to give her a second thought. They live in well-heeled comfort, while Emery struggles to make ends meet. They gather at family parties and enjoy each other's company while Emery sits with her little cat and cries on Christmas Day and Easter. They try not to think about her, because she's out of their lives, now that they have homes of their own and new families.

She's angry - very, very angry. Deep inside, her anger has started to fester, and now Emery has more problems with her health. Her stomach aches, her arteries are closing up, she has dozens of symptoms that defy explanation. She is terrified of dying young. Her eyes leak constantly, sometimes because she cannot help crying and sometimes, just because. She always clutches a tissue because of it.

Emery has been to counselors, but they don't help much, asking her how her week was and giving her the bill. Maybe she should find a new one, I suggest. Her doctor said there is nothing more that can be done for her serious health problems. Maybe she should get another doctor, I offer.

Now that I know Emery's secret, I am dedicating a little time each day to try to pull her toward the light. I tell her that a terrible past need not ruin a bright future. I tell her to breathe deeply and to eat. I tell her that she must realize that despite what she has been led to believe, she did nothing to deserve the terrible treatment of her childhood, and that she needs to let go of it, if it is ever to let go of her. I say that the past is gone, and she will only continue to be a victim if she accepts that role.

I bought her a blessed necklace to wear, and I ask her to have faith instead of letting worry consume her; I know that faith and confidence can heal her, and worry is the opposite of faith. I tell her to try to let go of her anger, because the ones who hurt her can't feel the pain of her wrath, but she can, and it's truly only hurting her more. I try to say things that will make her laugh.

It is up to Emery now to choose to reject her ugly past and resolve to be happy, despite all that has happened to her. I hope she can rise above it and find some joy in her life.

What devastation we humans can wreak on one another.

God, help me to be extra kind each day, because everyone I meet is fighting some kind of battle.