Today, between clouds and sunshine, I’m thinking about Amber laying in a trauma unit at UAB surrounded by machines and people and noises she can’t quite process.
I’m thinking about how little I know her… and yet, how effervescent and splendid what I know of her has been.
I’m thinking I don’t have the right to think about people I barely know and wish them better.
I’m thinking about the caution we exercise before investing in empathy. Because we do treat it like an investment- not a bloom of fellow feeling but a “should I let myself feel this right now even though there’s nothing I can do?”.
I’m probing the discomfort we feel before saying we care about people we barely know- whether in our neighborhood or in Nepal. This reticence remains a puzzle to me.
I’m thinking about my own experience after the accident- how words fell apart when I tried to recover their associations. How I will never remember that year of my fifteen-year-old self. How she remains a puzzle to me. And I’m never done trying to solve and re-solve her.
I’m thinking about brain injury and what I can offer- hope, hope, more hope than any heart can hold alone. Hope at beating the odds.
And I’m thinking about not thinking. Or how we encounter a friend, a lover, a mother in a hospital bed. How every little word matters.
Sometimes we think people who are unconscious can’t hear us. But what I remember from “waking up” in the hospital are people who visited before I had “woken up”.
The first face I remember is Alexandria Combs.
The icon she left in the hospital room hangs by my closet.
I remember light green. I remember beeping noises. I remember the feel of fading colors on my dry itchy skin.
I’m thinking about how intimate the word “fading” became to me then.
I’m thinking we can love people we barely know- and love that seems strange only displays our own discomfort with love in general. Or the hidden belief that love should be limited. Encapsulated. A zero sum pie carefully rationed between family and friends.
I’m thinking Amber will recover because the rest is unthinkable. I’m thinking every cell in her body is working with diligence.
And I’m thinking about honeysuckle. But mostly Amber. And hope.
And the honeysuckles to come.