Monday, February 21, 2011
My daughter, Michelle, died in 1974 from Reye's Syndrome. She was eight years old. She had been sick with the mumps and I gave her baby aspirin for the discomfort. The doctors didn't know what was wrong with her and gave her more aspirin in a suppository to help the vomiting. She died a day later. It was that year that the Reye's Syndrome Foundation was founded.
When I was two, I was close to death with symptoms very much like Reye's Syndrome. I had just recovered from chickenpox when they began. The doctors did not know what was wrong with me, either. I suspect that I was also given
I believe that the girl in the bed next to me in the hospital was my connection through time, to Michelle. She read to me and her presence gave me something very special, even though I never saw her face and only heard her voice. She was 8, the age Michelle was when she died from Reye's. I don't know how I know this, but I do. Michelle and I had already agreed to be there for each other, (on the other side of death), to comfort-hold life with precious appreciation and joy.
I've wondered often about that girl that read to me for what seemed like endless time when I was so little....and now I'm sure that she was a
manifestation of Michelle. The doctors didn't know how to treat what I had, because they didn't know what it was. My veins were too small for them to get any kind of IV fluids into me, and I was told later that I was in a coma and near death. A young intern thought to give me fluids by injecting them under the skin. I began to improve. I think the girl telling the story in her bed next to me had as much to do with it as did the intern. This is still the story, only my hands now hold the book.
The room is blurry.
A cloth partition hums
with words from a story book.
I love the girl that is reading to me
from the other side.
She is sick too.
I think the story is real.
Stay awake an echo tells me,
this is too sweet to miss
but I fade in and out.
I am two
I tell the girl beside me
lost in the tall grass of time;
she smiles her words,
reading on into the drift of me.
She is eight and reads like angels
with each word comes
a dancing of choir,
making the compartment of my bed
into a meadow-come-spring.
We are woven, she and I
into a story
that happens many years away,
then tells itself again
as I hold her across the partition,
knowing the kindness of death
has painted the cloth again.