When I was 21, I walked into Kyle's hospital room by myself, ahead of the girls by either a few steps or my mother-in-law keeping them in the hall, and timidly approached the corner of the in-room bathroom wall, relieved to be near Kyle again.
The girls were little. Aurora was two and a half, Celia just 6 months old and still needing to be carried. We'd trekked the two hours it takes to get from where I was living with friends in Brandon to the city of Winnipeg, over to Health Sciences, parked in the parkade, baby brigade stuffed, into the elevator, up to D6 (cancer ward), down the hall, through the double doors that locked on one side until the other side was shut, and down the everlasting hall towards Kyle's room.
It was the second visit since moving him into the hospital. He was going to be staying there a whole long while the plans were to chemo the hell out of him and then do something-can't remember-something when he was something-something-better.
But nothing could prepare me for what I was about to see as my legs carried me around the corner and my husband, 24 and with a full, thick head of hair the last time I saw him, was bald as a baby's behind. His beard was gone, his eyebrows were gone, his moustache was gone, even his smile was gone, but it wasn't that which catapulted me forward and threw me backwards all at once. It was his eyes. They were stark and sunken and very, very wide. I realized his eyelashes were gone, too, and it made his eyes look very, very bulging and very unfamiliar.
I didn't want to react. I didn't want him to see my face or feel my reaction or read negativity or feel inadequate in any way, even though it was spurning. This could not have been my husband. Did I step into the wrong room? I would have looked back to check, except if it hadn't been, Linda wouldn't have been outside the door. I was in absolute shock. I wasn't repulsed, but I had fleetingly wished I could do the moment over, wished someone would have told me what I was going to see. He looked at me with strange eyes and for having been an eye-girl my whole life, this was deeply unnerving. I wanted to cry.
But I didn't. In a flash and without them fully forming in my mind, thoughts of how could I have-- what if he doesn-- look at him!-- married-- really??-- how can we-- how are we-- is there-- what if this doesn't-- how can you-- crossed my mind. I had no idea, no creative way, no place to think of something more concrete, more positive or a way to deal with what I had just seen, what I was still seeing, this situation, the unbelievable course our lives were taking, and the whole unknown of Kyle's outcome--when and if he'd heal, if he would live, what kind of state or quality of life he'd have if he did survive all of that, all of what had already made him...
...that starkly hairless.
I didn't even know that I didn't know which thoughts exactly I was having. But without any sense of acceptance or bracing myself, I went to the next moment. This is how my life went in those days. One dramatic moment to the next, no time to chew, digest, accept and move on in between. No chance to heal or completely grow (or at least grow more than just a mere fraction) from one thing life flung at me to the next and I was just so, so young and the furthest thing from being an "old soul."
* * *
I just did what I had to. A lot of where I'd been in my life before this was a culmination of results directly related to choices I had made. And while that seems obvious, it wasn't to me. Rather than see the bigger picture for what it was and where I needed to go while doing for myself, I just made these partitioned decisions, out of those specific moments, thinking of immediate consequences, those solo sections of time, and from an emotional place; and when I did think of the future, it was with removed, idealistic, and marginal concept from where to perceive or relate to some unreachable, unknown future date.
As I discover (remember) more of my childhood over time and as I listen to Enigma's "Return To Innocence" right now and wonder how it ALL... just ever... went so wrong.... I put it together. I recall the rollover we were in where I suffered a major concussion. To this day I don't know the extent of damage, but it bothers me that don't know. It bothers me that I was in ICU for three days, but released without full report. Hell, I would have taken a partial report. I don't know what the doctors told Kyle, my mom, my dad. Anyway, I have major difficulty in remembering these things, remembering things I've learned time and again, and I think it's just me, but then I talk to Kyle and he says I was never that way before the accident.
So. It begs the question which lobes were affected and what do each lobe of the brain control? Is this why I am having such difficulty keeping a hold of the things I have learned? Is there any relation to this head trauma--trauma I thought I'd healed from--and these weird jostlings of memory?
For some reason, there is just this entire seperate chunk of remembering my childhood, hearing and seeing things that remind me of if and remembering things I have long forgotten, and the entire seperate chunks of my life after leaving home, having a child so young, the accident, cancer, even moving to Canada without so much as a second thought, and all the transitional agonies in between. Why do I feel so at odds with myself in these fleeting moments? It is embarrassing to move on, go through the stages of moving on, feeling resolved and then regressing back to those, as though I've never put the issue away.
It's just all so confusing. Even as I write this, my brain is wanting to go off in a million directions. There's gotta be a reason for this, for thinking here, there, then back over here, then over there, and back again. After a while, a gal starts to realize that not even female hardwiring can make a brain jump around like that and remember odd memories that may or may not even be memories, just dreams, or random thoughts.
*Sigh. It's time to get ready for work now.