Thursday, August 11, 2011

Septic Shock newsletter-- finale

I emerge from my experience of septic shock not yet able to tell the story in a way that feels quite right.   There is much to process -- much good and much that is just much-- intense and interesting and that still needs digesting. In literature I find words that help me.  Here is a section from a wonderful book by Molly Gloss called "the Dazzle of Day"- Quaker science fiction. Ursuala LeGuin meets Rufus Jones. A wonderful book.  In one chapter a woman is working on a boat and trying to save a person that has been injured. She is preparing to jump with him from a small raft to the main boat and instead hits the side with her shins, misses her landing, and says....

"I lost hold of the boat and sank with him, straight down.

I had been afraid, waiting to jump, but now I wasn't afraid. How quickly our ties and ballasts are cast off! I was of the Owl Strait, suddenly my outstretched elbows were resting in fjords, my palms outspread on the cobbled beaches. Inside my body there were forest of lichens, galaxies of starfish and lamp jellies, and in my bones the shields of turtles, the teeth of balenoj. I felt in my blood the long slow tide, straining after the sun -- I was water, and its unknowable alchemies, dreading nothing, simply streaming and alive. This was one of those times when your mind and body cohere and you understand suddenly what the poets say: To die is different from what you had supposed, and luckier.

Then unpredictably I began to rise up through the muffled darkness toward the dazzle of the daylight -- Kikuma was hauling me up-- I remembered I was tied fast to the boat. There was a curious moment: I had a sense that I must now make an accommodation to the world, as if I had lived a long time under the sea."

......I was grateful, exhausted. We were laboring through heavy seas with the edge of the puso weather whining in the windpipe, but I didn't try to hold this or anything in my mind. I lolled in the bottom of the boat, my skill rocking dumbly among the sliding scraps of salvage. While Kikuma was steering for a lee shore, I suppose I stood up from my life and let it stream around me in a clear cataract. I was freed from time, not lying inside a dream but standing in the compass of heaven where everything goes onward and outward, nothing collapses -- and when I lay down in my life again we were beating noreast along the cape. When I looked over the gunnel of the boat, across the strait toward the rocks there was a break in the sky and the sun broke fleetingly across the water in long bright reef - the puso weather had gone over our heads onward."

The details of  my own story-- the fall into illness & the moments with death nearby-- the similarities and differences from what the author describes here are important to me.  But, I appreciate that it is close enough and that it helps me. The word "cohere" struck me because it is exactly the one that was in my mind when I was so deeply ill.   I was considering whether to melt or cohere.   How quickly one becomes ether and water and then the effort required to return and remain embodied, combined with gratitude.

What I learned was good news about dying and living and it is this quiet calm and relief that I want to tell you about.  I hope as I carry the experience forward and live it that in time I'll find a creative expression that suits it. Who knows, fiber arts, song, silence, drawings, or simply growing old as a woman touched by life and death.

 Be well and happy and thanks for the kindness from so many.


Isi Morgan-Giles said...

Hi Sharon,
t y for this, have always loved Ursula le Guin, wishing you a steady & full recovery dear friend :) x

Elizabeth Gill said...

Sharon, I'm so glad you are able to put this dreadful life threatening experience behind you. thanks for sharing. Hugs and love and all the best, Libby

Jane Flink said...

Dear Sharon --Allow me here to celebrate with you these waning days of a protracted trial by illness.  I identified with the beautiful quotation from my days as a little girl of about 6, learning with my cousins how to play in the thundering north Atlantic waves without being swept out to sea or smashed flat and dragged by the undertow.  Our parents turned us loose to do this on our own, and we learned much -- that fight arises from fear and that both are not your friends -- you tame the ocean by studying its patterns.  To avoid a tow, simply pick up your feet.  The surface water is hellbent for the shore.  If you struggle and thrash, the tow will pull you down and out to the unknown black depths, as that is its proper direction.  I am happy for you -- for the insights and the recurring health and the love that has surrounded you through the best and worst of the days.  I have saved the beautiful words you published, and send you thanks for that, and blessings, as ever.  Jane