Saturday, December 31, 2005

Wander'd mony a weary fit

I'll try to end what's been a bipolar week for me on a positive note. (It might take me a few paragraphs to get there, but trust me - that's where I'm going.) And I look toward the Casselberry women for inspiration on this last day of 2005.

Last year, my sister was carjacked in Charleston, SC. Approximately two weeks ago, the asshole who did it was sentenced to 37 years in prison. He wasn't charged for the carjacking, however, because he pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual assault. After stealing my sister's car, this scumbag went on to rob someone else, and then raped a 71-year-old woman in her home - all in less than 24 hours.

Though she tries not to, my sister often thinks about what would've happened if she hadn't fought her way out of that car and run like hell to a nearby bookstore. Fortunately, a great career and a full life both help her get past such thoughts. But when a victims' right advocate called about the sentencing, all of the old feelings, those fears, came back.

She told my sister that seeing an attacker go to prison helps many victims with closure. When my sister asked me what I thought, I said maybe it wasn't a good idea. Why re-open all those old wounds? Plus, she never got a good look at the guy during the carjacking. If she were to see him in that courtroom, wouldn't he become all too real in her memory? Ultimately, my sister decided that she would go. Not just for closure, but to support the woman that was raped. She faced her fears, and I'm in awe of her bravery.

Early last week, the secretary of my father's cardiologist called my mother. The doctor developed a close relationship with my dad throughout his heart surgeries and rehabilitation, and seemed to take my father's death rather hard. While expressing his condolences to my mother, he said he would talk to the doctors involved with my dad's case and see if he could get some answers for her. At the time, that was something my mother badly needed to hear.

Weeks and months passed, however, with no word from the doctor. Once in a while, my mother wondered if he was ever going to call, but eventually seemed to forget about it. Privately, I thought that was a good thing. After my father died, she agonized over what happened in the hospital that day, wanting the entire sequence of events replayed for her. She tortured herself over and over, wondering what she could've done differently. What could the doctor really say, what information could he have, that would make my mother feel better?

I answered the phone when the secretary called. She told me the doctor wanted to meet with my mother. After taking the message, I honestly considered not telling my mother about it. As with my sister, I questioned whether she would want those wounds re-opened - especially when they haven't closed. She's having a rough enough time each day as it is. Why would you want to relive that day? Again, what could the doctor say that would make any difference whatsoever?

But I gave my mother the message. She actually expected the call, as she'd recently spoken with a nurse who worked with the doctor, and whose mother was in rehabilitation with my father. I said I'd take her to see the doctor, if she wanted to go. Maybe I tried to talk my mother out of going because I didn't want to be in that office, reliving the events of that day, hearing what I already knew had happened.

She didn't want to go. She called the secretary, thanked her and the doctor for their time, and asked if a letter could be written, in lieu of a face-to-face meeting. I wanted to make sure I hadn't influenced my mother, so I asked if she was sure about her decision. She told me she'd accepted what had happened. Life was difficult enough without having to go through that pain all over again. I'm still worried that I swayed her with my thoughts on the matter. And I know she still tortures herself with what happened. But I think she's made great steps in her recovery. Declining the doctor's offer for a meeting shows how strong she's become. And I'm proud as hell of her for that.

This past year has been the most difficult of my life. I finished a rough, yet fulfilling two years in Iowa, earning the degree I'd worked so hard to pursue. Yet shortly after coming home, my father passed away. And I'm still trying to figure out where my life is going. Ambitions were shelved, plans have changed. Some of my friendships and relationships have become stronger, while others have deteriorated, maybe irrevocably. I know I have work to do in those areas. I've been something of an anti-social hermit. But I know this is where I'm supposed to be, where I need to be. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

I believe that the bad has to be followed by the good to maintain the natural balance of our lives. So 2006 has to be a better year, right? I think it will be. I look at my mother and sister and know I'm capable of getting through this, of doing more. And I had a conversation with someone yesterday which could lead to something that would start the new year off nicely. (More on that later. Someday. Maybe. We'll see.) So I'm hopeful. And I think that's the feeling we all want on New Year's Eve.

To those who have helped me get through this year, whether I know you personally or through this blog, I'm eternally grateful for the kindness you've shown. And I thank you for taking the time to come here each day and read my writing. You allow me to have an outlet that I've sorely needed. I appreciate that more than you know.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I need a drink. Happy New Year, everyone.