Friday, December 5, 2008

The House Whose People Sit in Darkness

The report for Little A's CT scan came back today. The problematic area of her right lung is not a tumor or congenital anomaly. The most likely big bad we dreaded -- bronchiectasis -- got ruled out as well.

So, we're left assuming that this weird patch of lung is scar tissue that developed during Little A's back-t0-back bouts of pneumonia last winter. Scar tissue is great news, as it can reverse in small children. So we'll continue to carefully manage her asthma and try to limit the amount of colds she gets (ha, ha, ha on this last one ... hoo, so funny).

After I talked to the pulminologist I hung up and skipped around the house and high fived Little A 50 times. There is nothing like a toddler to happily indulge a giddy adult in the high fives. Then I put Little A down for her nap and in the silence of the house, found myself crying.

Three years ago today I sat at the desk where I now type this post. The phone rang, and as I stared out the window into the backyard, a perinatologist I'd never met before told me that the baby in my belly had a 1 in 5 shot at having either Trisomy 18 or Trisomy 13. And so it began. The waiting, the hoping, the crushed hopes, the termination, the complications, the marital strain, the depression, the subsequent pregnancy, the pain, the worry, the uterine rupture, the joy of Little A, the medical problems of Little A. Had that call not come in December 2005, what would my life look like now? To be honest, I don't even know how to imagine that scenario anymore. It's all too strange too contemplate.

They say it's not uncommon for people to associate sounds or smells with the moment they receive terrible news. For me, the thing that always pops into my mind when I think of this day in 2005 is The Epic of Gilgamesh. For some reason -- probably because it is shorter than most other Penguin Classics on my shelf -- I happened to be rereading Gilgamesh around the time of that phone conversation. And now the call and the poem remain linked. Especially the passage about Gilgamesh's best bud Enkidu, who dreams of his own death, of going to the palace of the Queen of Darkness, which is described as the house from which no one who enters ever returns, down the road from which there is no coming back:

There is the house whose people sit in darkness; dust is their food and clay is their meat. They are clothed like birds with wings for covering, they see no light, they sit in darkness.

It sounded so familiar to me, that Palace of Darkness. I lived next door in the House of Grief for a really long time. Food's just as sucky as it is at the Palace, and the lights are out, too.

But at least the road from the House of Grief runs in two directions. And sometimes you get to walk back out of there and into a real home. You get to turn up the thermostat, flick on the holiday lights, and enjoy a nice cup of tea while you bake cookies. And if the wind is blowing ominously outside, maybe this time you can just ... shut the damn blinds and ignore it, and not have the weather serve up a tornado while you're not looking.

Sometimes you can do this. And today, I am so thankful for that.


Sara said...

Powerful post. I hate that we all have awful memories of these certain days.

Julia said...

Did you say cookies? I'll be right over.

Seriously, though, I am so happy and thankful for the test results with you. And for your road out in the first place.

AnnaMarie said...

How beautifully said!

I'm so glad you received good news about medical test results today. I'm so sorry you ever found yourself in the House of Grief but thank you so much for sharing about your life having escaped the dark rooms. It's very inspiring.

Which Box said...

Yes. Definitely yes.

Genevieve said...

my prayers are with u

Ann said...

It's a humbling thing, to look back in time and contemplate all that has happened in the meantime. What a great post.

Rosepetal said...

great news about Little A! I'm glad that you have been walking in the other direction for once.

Lori said...

I am so thankful for the positive diagnosis.

I can also understand how the emotions of now would take you back to the emotions of then. It's all so linked, motherhood... hope... loss... new life... rebirth... When you have endured one tragedy, you never look at anything else the same.

Cookies and tea. Nice.