Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The wolves are back

The wolves came back a couple nights ago, but so far we are fending off the worst of the night, and my son is cheerful and only scared from moment to moment.

The wolves, it should be added, exist in my son's mind, not rampaging our sleeping room. But when they are there and my son decides it is time to join the pack, when he removes his clothing and goes to all fours and vocalizes chilling growls and moans and scrambles through the early morning thus, it can be hard.

It can be fascinating as well; I follow my son as far as I am able into his world. These nights are better by far than the nights of January and December, when I terrified him as well and he cried out so heartbreakingly. Gabe meets my eyes, he comes back to our consensual reality, we sit and talk. Or I talk, and watch his expressions very closely; I give him drawing paper and pens; I let him select toys, and we talk about them. Or, as I said, I talk.

On into the dawn, trying to be centered, fighting my exhaustion, trying to think of it all as fantasy.

I am a poet; why would my 20 year old with Down Syndrome and other labels not also walk the paths of the imagination in his own way?

We've had two nights now, and maybe that's it; I kind of hope so. My partner said yesterday he'd take the night shift if need be, but when the wolves came he was sleeping too soundly. You can't wait around much in the world of the wolves; the energy changes pretty quickly, you want to be there.

So, without much sleep, my mind wanders. I've been thinking of the subterranean life of the mind, of things that flow on beneath the surface, like creeks encased beneath the roads.

Now and then they break through.

Last weekend was one of those times for me, in which I found myself inexplicably crying, and still went on with my busy life. A meeting, sales at the shop, interactions with friends and strangers.

And moments of heartwrenching weeping.

Usually when this sort of thing happens I check the calendar. I seem to have an internal ritual life as solid as any pattern of saint's days, in which sometimes some long ago event comes out and stands in the center of my heart.

And I say, oh, yes, I recognize you. Been a long time. I see the pain is still here, funny thing.

I checked the calendar and my heart and realized, oh yes, of course, it was the time of the accident and the 3 days waiting and the death at the end. It was the anniversary of a time that sent me into a dark time in which if there were wolves to join I would have, gladly, tearing off my clothes and my civility and gone raging into a chaotic night. It was the anniversary of a death that divided my life's path.

There have been other deaths, many before that one, many more after that. This one, however, claims me still, three decades and more later.

So, I was in the midst of keeping my social face and selling books and not sobbing when Vern wandered in.

"Kin I take an apple?" said Vern, and I said yes, and he did. Now, Vern is...well, Vern ranges the streets and does a lot of things that aren't very good for him, including large amounts of vodka and large amounts of less legal substances. Vern used to be a chain setter for a logging company, till the chain slipped and a tree hit him and he suffered brain damage.
Vern howls at the night pretty regularly, and Vern talks to me in rifts that go something like "Did you get the stars that are worth a lot? I think the telephone wants them now"

I say, "no, don't have any stars, have another apple".

We have our interesting conversations. More sedate customers are often a bit stunned. Talking with people like Vern helps me a bit in the wolf time conversations with my son; I'll follow you anywhere.

This day Vern looked at a photo on my desk. "Your daddy, right?" said Vern. I checked it out--I do have family photos scattered about. "Um, no, not that one".

Vern stared at me "He's your real daddy!" he said, though I said no--here, that's my dad, in uniform, so young.

Vern shook his head. "Might be. But this guy here, he's your daddy too. Most your daddy."

And off he went, munching his apple. The photo is of William Butler Yeats. Well, I didn't much like his poem to his lovely daughter---but, hey, I'll claim him, father to my subterranean heart and the times of wolves.


Blogger ocean lady said...

Ah jarvenpa, your uncomplaining courage, looking so matter of factly over the edge of, as you say, our "consensual reality" into the unknown dark though the long hours of night to help your son back to a measure of peace - always leaves me stunned and somehow improved. You are a great teacher of how to love, a great mother for a boy who very much needed one in this life.

4:16 PM, July 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now Chil the Kite brings home the night
That Mang the Bat sets free.
The herds are shut in byre and hut -
For loosed till dawn are we.
This is the hour of pride and power,
Talon and tush and claw.
O hear the call! Good Hunting, All
That keep the Jungle Law!

-- Rudyard Kipling

I wish you good hunting in your long nights.

6:14 PM, July 28, 2009  

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