Old Feelings Never Die
While attending my autobiography- memoirs writing class, I became a bit emotional. We sit in groups of four and read to each other from our latest work. This week I wrote about when I had Chondrosarcoma and long term hospitalization related to my internal hemipelvectomy.
This is the basics of the story: I had been flat on my back for many weeks, when my younger sister came to visit. She massaged me and I began to feel considerably better. She helped me to sit up, something the nurses didn't do and the doctor had not ordered. She helped me to sit at the edge of the bed, and with progression, she helped me to stand up by the bed. Then, she helped me to walk, first four steps, then a few more, before I asked the doctor for permission to get out of bed. He gently reminded me that he had told me I would never walk again. I proceeded to get out of bed and show him that I could. The man had tears in his eyes as I walked toward him.
It was that point in my reading to my classmates that I broke down. I held the paper over my face while I regained my composure and completed my story.
We continued with the critiquing and questions. This being a very unusual foursome, it was pretty intense. The woman who sat to my left is permanently in an electric wheel chair. She has Multiple Sclerosis and cannot walk at all. In fact she has to be lifted from her bed with a hoist in order to be placed into her wheel chair. I couldn't look at her, for fear of seeing tears or sympathy, or even maybe impatience toward me. I thought I could feel intense emotion from her. I just had to breathe through her critique of my writing style. The lack of clarity for time period.
The young man sitting to my right is an avid skateboarder. Though, as far as I know, he has no medical conditions, he wrote about considerable violence and injury he has experienced because of his passion for skateboarding. Mostly he was confused and continued to ask deeper and deeper questions about my experience. It was clear I had left out a lot that I could add to my revision. It was challenging to answer his questions as my nose ran. Dammit!
The young man across from me was diagnosed with Leukemia seven years ago. Though in remission he continues to take the same chemo type drug I may soon be taking. He knows what it is like to be isolated in a hospital bed. We've spoken about our experiences before this shared reading. He made it clear he understood. He never questioned or critiqued, but explained a few things to the others about having cancer, things I just didn't know how to say.
Having cancer changes your viewpoint of the world and makes you wise in ways you never thought possible, and he is a good example of this.
It is odd how the body remembers the emotions that arose for me reading about something that happened over forty years ago.