When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

August 18, 2012

August 18, 2012


Peter’s 11th Birthday (with new iTouch and headphones), August 4, 2012.

August 18, 2012.  I think this will be the last journal entry I write before irrevocably handing the “final” manuscript over to Red Hen Press.  It’s so hard to know what to say, or where to find conclusion.  Peter is at school and won’t be home until Friday, though he’ll be with us then until after Labor Day.  Sophie is starting a new school, a small Catholic school across the river, and I know the anticipation of new kids and routines looms heavy.  Pat and I thought seriously about rejoining the Catholic Church – after all, we’re sending our daughter to Catholic school, but in the end we decided against it.  Neither of us is ready for the suspension of certain convictions that such a move necessitates.  We both want our kids to have spirituality in their lives and the chance to have a meaningful relationship with God, but it won’t be as Catholics, at least not for now.  Pat and I met with Peter’s treatment team at Green Chimneys last week, and we’re very pleased with his progress.  “He’s definitely a kid moving toward discharge,” words from the attending psychiatrist that resonate like song in my heart.  The when and the where and the under what circumstances are yet to be determined; I continue to struggle but am working hard to resist the urge to plan for and accommodate the future beyond the next few weeks or months.  We stop by Peter’s classroom before leaving to say hello and steal a hug.  The room is naturally lit (no overhead lights), the handful of boys who occupy it quietly attending to their separate endeavors.  It’s the complete opposite of the raucous, crowded classrooms he was made to endure for so many years.  Time to process is needed even when it comes to recognizing Mom and Dad’s faces, and so we wait for him to assimilate our unexpected presence.  When he does – when that light bulb finally flicks on, his pleasure overflows immediately, filling the room with contagious energy.  He nearly bowls me over as he races to grab hold, jumping us both up and down while exclaiming, “Mommy!  Mommy!”  I never heard him call my name this happily when he was three or four or five, but hearing it now, at eleven, is more than enough.  Soon everyone is laughing and saying hello, the vibe celebratory, as when a holiday awaits.  I’ve shed so many tears over the years that moments like these – unexpected moments that cause my eyes to water with joy rather than sorrow, can never go unmarked.  On the drive home, I carefully wrap the memory like a present.  There is plenty for which to be grateful.  As I lay awake last night, somewhere between worrying about special needs trusts and our outstanding tax bill, I thought of a Tim O’Brien story that forever will stick in my mind, called The Things They Carried.  It chronicles how a soldier in the Vietnam War stripped away his memories, his hopes, his dreams, and the accompanying physical possessions he carried in his rucksack as reminders, little by little with each passing day, until he carried nothing.  At first he clung to certain keepsakes but he soon realized they added physical and emotional weight.  In the end, the soldier is left with nothing but the raw instinct to continue living, to kill or be killed.  His memories of being loved and of having loved are erased, forever, leaving the reader to ponder whether physical survival alone can ever really constitute living.  It’s a haunting story and a cautionary tale.  I’m keenly cognizant that I find myself in the opposite position these days.  I don’t want to take the analogy too far – after all, family struggle is a far cry from combat, but there was a time when I also actively engaged in the shedding of self in order to reemerge as something different, stronger, harder, more impenetrable.  But it was a mistake and I’m finished with it.  Parenting my son has made me stronger, yes, but if my heart hadn’t been open, at least cracked a little, we never would have found each other.  I never would have known that Peter’s soul is lush and rich, the opposite of what I feared in those first, unbearably difficult years.  Sophie would never have had the benefit of seeing, firsthand, that even impossible obstacles are capable of being hurdled.  And Pat and I, if we didn’t know before, now appreciate that for us, The Things They Carried – that thing or memory that keeps all of us bound to a world beyond our own existence, is each other.  Never in a million years could I have guessed that two Russian toddlers, both abandoned, neglected, and deprived, and one with significant brain injury, would ever teach me so much.

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17 Comments »

  1. Mary, if you’re looking for a conclusion to your book, I can’t imagine a more perfect one than this, what you’ve written here. 🙂

    Comment by Kathleen — August 18, 2012 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

    • Thanks so much, Kathleen. And yes, I’m hoping that it will make it in – as the last entry to this first big chapter of our lives. Now let’s see if my editor agrees!

      Comment by whenrainhurts — August 18, 2012 @ 4:20 pm | Reply

      • Ah, yes. The editor. I have to laugh at that since I once argued with an editor over one word in a manuscript I was reading. I was in favor of keeping the author’s choice of word, the editor was not. (sigh and lol)

        Comment by Kathleen — August 18, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  2. You write so beautifully, Mary. This is a wonderful conclusion.

    Comment by Cynthia Kirtland — August 18, 2012 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Cindy – I hope you’re doing well and getting ready for the new school year 🙂

      Comment by whenrainhurts — August 25, 2012 @ 7:04 pm | Reply

  3. Mary, I am so glad to have had the opportunity to read your entries. I have worked with brain injured adults for many years and have witnessed the struggle for patients and families. Your posts have described a whole world of challenges and rewards of raising a child with brain injury. I hope to read your book someday! I am sure it would offer much guidance and hope to many families.

    Comment by Mary Haight — August 18, 2012 @ 5:58 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Mary Madden (I can’t help myself!). FAS and TBI have a lot in common – in fact, you might already know, and if not, be interested to know, that FAS diagnostically is being put in with TBI in terms of eligibility for disability services (at least in NY). At least that’s what I recently heard . . .

      Comment by whenrainhurts — August 25, 2012 @ 7:04 pm | Reply

  4. As always, Mary, it is evident to me in your wrting and your life that God blesses you, and Peter, and Sophie, and Pat.

    Comment by Christopher Duncan — August 18, 2012 @ 6:49 pm | Reply

    • As always, thank you Chris for your continued support. Pls let me know how you and your family (esp. your daughter) are doing. I think of you often. Mary

      Comment by whenrainhurts — August 25, 2012 @ 7:02 pm | Reply

  5. Mary, you have been on my mind so much recently, and then ‘poof’ today this latest entry, and possibly last entry of When Rain Hurts. You are always so
    eloquent with your words that when I do see a new post I drop everything I am doing to read it. You are an inspiration in so many ways. I wish you and
    your family all the best and I too cannot wait to read the book. Please keep us posted on your progress and your World Book Tour! LOL *smile
    With love and prayers,
    Meg

    Comment by Meg Coldwells — August 19, 2012 @ 2:51 am | Reply

  6. Well, if this is the end of this excellent blog, I will admit I am quite sad over that. I have come to love this blog but all good things come to an end. Thank you for this excellent blog. It was truly captivating and just made you wonder some days. I am awaiting the release of the book. Through this blog you strengthen my belief in “when we stand together” we can accomplish anything. Again thank you for this. Also I hope this isn’t the end and if it is leave us a way to keep up with you all. I wish you and your family all the best.
    – James T. Snead

    Comment by James — August 19, 2012 @ 11:32 pm | Reply

    • James –

      Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful words. And no, I don’t anticipate that this the end of the blog, tho I can see why some folks thought so. The last entry is the end of my upcoming book tho. Take care and be well – Mary

      Comment by whenrainhurts — August 25, 2012 @ 7:01 pm | Reply

  7. love to read your blog.can’t wait for the book..
    Karen Jacobsen

    Comment by karen jacobsen — August 21, 2012 @ 12:07 pm | Reply

  8. I have followed your postings since the beginning. Your words have given me strength during times when I thought I could go no further and hope that there is a future for our Russian children. I can’t wait for “When Rain Hurts” to be released. Please keep us posted.

    Comment by Bobbi — August 21, 2012 @ 12:55 pm | Reply


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