“The brain is wider than the sky.” Emily Dickinson
Late Friday night, I was informed that Vernon had been sent to the ER again because he’d pulled his G-Tube out. It was no big deal, they fixed him up and sent him home. I didn’t need to be there. But I’m paying attention: the last couple of times he’s gone to the ER, there has been a depression link, so I am hoping that what is now being prescribed is helping rather than hindering. The doctor has slightly bumped up the dose for now, but he also mentioned that some antidepressants can increase anxiety so we might be seeing some of that.
I’m finding if I can coax him into a tender place, if we focus on big abstract things like love and romance or his dedication to his family, he is more likely to connect intellectually. I’ve had some marvelous conversations with him lately. Sometimes I’ve managed to write down on my phone’s memo-app what he says, but if I miss it the first time, he doesn’t like to repeat himself. When I can connect with him on this level, I recognize more of the Vernon I used to know: a philosopher of sorts, very sharp and intuitive in his ability to read people. He’s even given me some advice lately that I’ve decided to respect. That’s it: I recognize the part of him I miss most.
It does come in waves, but it’s remarkable to be access him in these conversations. Each conversation is totally different, mind you—some are still very short and random. I’m also learning that in finding this honest and connected space with him, I must leave room to transition him back out of it so he doesn’t become volatile when I have to leave. Twice this week, I’ve been late for school pick-up because he became violently upset when I stood to go. This mostly seems to happen if we’ve connected from the heart. I must be more mindful of the time. It’s like he’s been warmed up in a nice bath, the put out alone in the wind. It’s heartbreaking for both of us.
Vernon is bringing up ‘home’ again. He wants to be with us on the couch, he says. He wants to be with his family. The other day, he told me he had a dream of when we were first were together, that I had left him and he was desperately hoping it wouldn’t end. Later, he kept asking what will he do when I send him back to England alone. Who will take care of him? I assured him I wasn’t leaving him, but I was thankful to know exactly what he is experiencing. I think its loneliness and the fear of separation. Incidentally, separation anxiety was something Vernon had struggled with in his life.
So I wonder how much of that is a new thing or an old thing? But it seems positive that he is expressing his psychological thought. Just as his family are learning to stay in the strange frenetic space between grief and joy, disappointment and hope, he may be learning it too. It’s a sign to me that his still in there. It’s amazing what stays a part of a person when other things leave.
But mostly I see love. That is always there. It’s been remarkable to think about it. Vernon has been teaching me remember it in myself and look for it in others. It’s what every human being has in common: every single person has loved ones. Every single person loves and is loved. It doesn’t leave our bodies until we’re gone. We should spend more time accessing that while we are here.
(PS…That doesn’t make it easy. But it makes it better.)