wherein we entertain the notions of a creature embroiled in sorting multiple identities. is she a mother? a poet? a performer? an organizer? or is she simply the product of a feminist movement in which women dreamt that simultaneously singing opera, tap-dancing, spinning plates, spouting rhetoric and solving algorithms was liberation. here are the rough drafts.
Monday, April 06, 2015
The Problem With Miracles | The Coma Chronicles
My 28 year old daughter was found in a coma on March 13, 2015.
She woke up April 3, 2015. These are some of the thoughts between then and now.
What people forget is that miracles take a lot of hard work by mortals. When illness or tragedy surprises us, the first thing many people do is deny it by calling for some nebulous, ill defined miracle. In the miracle, the loved one reverts back to exactly the way they were before the illness or tragedy struck and lives happily ever after.
My mantra has always been the universe loves me and wants me to be happy. In every fiber of my being, I believe this to be true. So, the thought of 300 people all praying for their version of a miracle filled me with foreboding.
Thought is energy. Imagine yourself as a laser beam casting your intention onto a target. If 300 other people are all simultaneously casting their energy at the same place on the target, the target yields more easily. Our solitary energy, while powerful, is magnified by harmony with other energies. In solidarity, our singular energy gains strength and power.
A massive welling of undirected energy disrupts the ability to obtain critical mass. Scattered energy has no other purpose but to create cosmic confusion. Imagine 300 people in a confined area all shooting semi-automatic weapons into the air.
In reality, miracles are sweaty arduous journeys through the unforgiving shapeless desert of dogged perseverance. You will pass through several mirages of hope where you sip nectar from a golden goblet only to wake up and discover that in your delirium all you’ve done was bite the head off of a lizard and suck out it’s blood and ichor. As disgusting as it sounds, in that awakening ~ in that slapping back to reality after being parched unto the brink of death ~ the lizard is, in reality, a nectar-filled golden goblet. It is what you have been given to survive. It isn’t pretty. It is what is. More often than not, miracles unfold in this way.
Me, Ricardo, & Imani Nia
I was in my early 20’s when I experienced the first death-by-illness of a close friend. I remember Ricardo’s family had buttons made which read miracle in progress. I believed in the faith of this family. I knew that the disease would reverse itself. I prayed so hard for a full recovery. I was devastated when he died. I was dismantled down the cells. It took me years to understand that the miracle we had been praying for was not the miracle he needed. He got his miracle. We received an invitation to grow and learn more about what miracles really are.
The Universe really does love me and want me to be happy. The more I have stayed on this mantra the truer it has become for me. Unfortunately, there is a societal over ride which insists that it is “too good to be true.” The more anchored I became in choosing a joy reality, the more I discovered human nature.
From the outside in, it’s very lovely life. My family spends our days doing what we love to do and managing to have everything we need and most of what we want. Still, we find ourselves feeling blue, restless, uneasy. In choosing a joy reality, we find ourselves having to stop; smile at each other; and remind ourselves that human beings thrive on challenges. Human beings become bored with utopia and seek drama.
Nothing demonstrates this as easily as Facebook. We flock to the tragedy, the argument, the train wreck of the week. Sometimes, this is a good thing. It spreads awareness. All too often, the aftermath of tragedy floats away. The tsunami hits; devastates; all the interesting bits are over and we move on to 200 Nigerian Girls, the next dead Black man; eventually orange is the new black; Scandal Kanye opens his mouth; Empire gay people marry climate change the homeless gentrification. There never is a happily ever after. There is only next.
There is never boring. There is never mundane. We post pictures of crackers or luscious restaurant meals. But, if instead we spent paragraphs (or stanzas) describing the details of chewing that cracker, you would find it tedious and dry. The reality of the cracker is boring. So it is with miracles and their aftermath.
On my more sullen, angry and unaccepting days, I had some uncharitable thoughts. Those were days when I had to channel my grandmother, Maida Springer Kemp who used to say, “I wake up every morning and give myself precisely five minutes to feel deeply and profoundly sorry for myself. Then, I get on with it.”
Each morning during my five minutes, I allowed myself to imagine people in my Facebook feed pulling up with a great bowl of popcorn to observe the turmoil. Some people didn’t even need Facebook. They made sure they got firsthand, blow by blow narrations of this dramatic coma.
A daughter was basically dead on arrival at the hospital and revived. Laying in a coma on life support, slipping away. The great extubation plot twist where she woke up only to twist and slip away again, just within reach and so far gone. The story could go so many ways. It could have ended in a tragedy with the difficult decisions to make about quality of life in a persistent vegetative state. The plot could have become rife with conflict about her quality of life if she awoke cognitively or physically impaired. What would her choices be? What would our choices be? Duh, duh, duh, minor chord.
I acknowledged the anger, the resentment, and then I got on with my day. I stood up and claimed serenity as my right. From there, I was able to move myself into a place of acceptance and gratitude. Human beings need challenges in order to feel a sense of purpose. And this awful thing happening in my life was a growth opportunity for me and everyone touched by my life. We don’t get to pick our miracles. They choose us.
This is the nature of a miracle. It is ever expanding. This is how how miracles work. Recognizing with gratitude the importance of small things until suddenly every small thing gathers together and become a large blessing.
It is early morning. I am having my five minutes. I am looking at all of the uneasy questions that are the aftermath of this miracle. My daughter was in transition at the onset of this coma. She was unemployed and making big life changes. She was switching careers and having that late 20-something OMG I have to be a grown up moment.
27 years ago, Imani Nia & me
Now, I have the responsibility of putting her life back together. Like when she was an infant beginning to walk. Like when she was a child. Firing up those neurons and exercising her brain back into shape. Like when she was a teenager helping her make decisions about moving on with the rest of her life. I get to be the primary facilitator for her life all over again. Only this time, she is a grown woman with her own opinions.
It feels like a backyard fireworks show. You set up all the little cartons. Then for 10 minutes you light them and shoot them all off. Everyone is laughing and clapping. The darkness is exploded by stars. We ooo and awww and exclaim this one is even better! The last big shooting rocket is set off. Everyone shrieks with joy. Some friends go home thankful for the good time. A few linger and dance in the yard with sparklers trying to recapture those big bursts of energy. When everyone goes home, there you are sweeping up ash and fuses and charred cardboard. If you are lucky, one friend will stay behind and help clean up the party. If you are lucky. It was a good time. You might not choose to do it again, no matter how much your friends assure you that it is worth it. Miracles work like this.
Do not pray for yourself and the miracle that you want. It never ends with happily ever after. The miracle is what you get and all the tidying up afterwards. The miracle really begins with the tidying up part and who sticks around after the show.