Sunday, December 25, 2011

A time for dancing.

We all face our pain in different ways. Escape it, block it, avoid it, group meetings, late nights, routines, blame ourselves, blame others, pretend the wound never happened.

When you die, they dehumanize you. It is a coping response: they slot you and box you and you are the patient, not The Caregiver, or The Spouse, The Support, The Care Provider, The Family, The one in grief, the one in pain. And they are.

But it is a person dying, and they have a name, and they have hobbies, jobs, jokes, favorite colors and flavors. They are not looking for a 20 foot room to die in. My grandmother kept using her walker every day to explore the hospital. She had flown at 65 on a mail carrier to the Arctic to stay with an Inuit Tribe for two weeks. She talked about her travels in China, and Russia, and every place that she had taught in her school and read about in National Geographic. She suffocated because a worker paid $19.68 an hour didn’t hook her nosepiece to the oxygen.

No one looks for a 20 foot white room to die in. I have a name, I have a history, I have desires and plans, just like you. Elizabeth McClung, who had a wet dream last night of doing a very complicated sexual position. I woke to a body paralyzed, thinking, “Wow, I didn’t know Linda was so flexible.” It is the little, odd, usual, lewd and tender things which combine to make us into a person, and to remain so until the last beat of the heart.

Today I danced, perhaps only the top half, but I dance. There is time in life to dance, even during the dying. The intertwining is in all of us, to some degree or another. So dance.


Displaced said...

Keep dancing Elizabeth! Those who really love and know "the deceased" will always feel and remember the whole person... we the living carry those memories... Those who survive you will carry yours... Only the incidental dehumanize.

wendryn said...

I am glad you are still dancing.

Tina Russell said...

Yay for wet dreams! Those sound like great moments that let you know you’re still alive. Those are something you have against the people so dead inside they refuse to recognize you as a person, for sure.

Dreams are my refuge, a tender space for imagination and growth. Mmmm, when I have a beautiful wife like you have, someone who loves and cares for me like yours does for you, I hope I have wet dreams about her as great as that one. Mmmm, all I need to do is summon even a fraction of your courage... I’ll get the chicks swarming all over me. That’s my plan, anyway.

Happy Boxing Day, Beth! said...

I just wanted to comment your blog and say that I really enjoyed reading your blog post here. It was very informative. Keep it up and I’ll be back to read more soon.

Neil said...

Your grandmother sounds as amazing as you. As for you, you're a pretty good role model: keep dreaming and dancing until I die. Yup, stay active in body and mind as long as one can - definitely good advice.

Love and zen hugs,

Kate J said...

Remember "The Prisoner"? 'I am not a number, I am a free man - who always got the response 'You are No. 6'.

People in hospital, or needing 'care' are often not regarded as individuals or recognised as themselves, to express their likes and needs, to tell their story. 'Old people' - like your grandmother - are 'the elderly', or 'the patient' often not even known by name. My mum when in hospital was called by the name on her medical records, and not by the one she was always known by... we had to put a large written notice on the end of her bed saying 'known as Pat' because otherwise she wouldn't realise people were speaking to her when they used a name she had never used. Just one of those little things that make a difference.

You are YOU, Elizabeth, Beth McClung, with a unique history, unique talents and a unique personality. You are not a number, you are - and always will be - a free woman. Keep dancing!
Love & peace

Lorna, Bob and Liam said...

Dreaming and dancing... sounds like a damn fine way to spend your time. Being yourself, loving your wife... yes. That's living while you're dying.

Hugs and blessings...

Lorna, Bob and Liam

Lene Andersen said...

Dancing makes everything better. I'm glad you're doing it.

You are a person.

Raccoon said...

Dance is good. I dance sometimes, too.

It's always better to dance with someone though. It's good that Linda is there. Dancing in your dreams is also good. Especially if the results work in your favor…

I think you are wrong though, in this sentence: "when you die, they dehumanize you."

When you are dying, they dehumanize you. When you die, you have already become an object, except when they are talking to the spouse/family/etc. Then, for those few seconds, you are human again.

It still doesn't help, though, does it?

Keep dancing.

JaneB said...

Keep dancing, beautiful. Those we love live in our hearts, their stories and dancing and lewdness and the way they chopped onions or how they tipped their head when listening to the radio, rich and complicated and real.

Our society is broken. We put the messy bits of life away and allow poorly paid, badly treated strangers control over those bits of life, which MATTER.

Much love at this season of incarnation, when Christians say that God became human with all the messy, inefficient things that meant - even if many of them don't act like He was!

GirlWithTheCane said...

Keep're beautiful. :)


Elizabeth McClung said...

Incarnation. The disabled Jesus, the Angry Jesus: he for who a holocaust of Jewish children marked the birth. People tend to avoid mentioning the sounds of mothers screaming from watching their children gutted as counterpooint to the the birth in a manager. Or his life of exile, a stranger to the land and people he wanted to help.

Jane, I think you are right and as time goes on, people want to remember the good, even if there wasn't a lot of it, more can always be made up.

I do love more people than I did three years ago. I do know more people than I did last year. Those are both true and important things I want to remember. And why not party then?

Kathz said...

Dancing is good, though I mostly dance when no-one is watching. Keep dancing, Beth, and being you - and knowing that you are loved and valued as yourself.

Sailor Star Dust said...

I remember reading that book so many moons ago in high school--highly recommended to those who haven't read it. :)

Keep on dancing, Elizabeth, we love you! <3