Friday, January 30, 2015

book talk: Death of a Pig

Well, I went back to our closing library for a third time. My daughters were really wanting to see what has become of the place we had spent so much time in over the past 7 or 8 years. I didn't think that they would really find any books, but I underestimated their enthusiasm! We collected many more books to take home for keeps, most of them now belonging to my girls. They now have books about shipwrecks, square dancing, canoeing, Georgia, North Carolina, Alaska, and a bunch of other random things that sparked their interest. What ever gets kids excited about books is fine with me! As for myself, I was incredibly happy to discover that Essay of E.B. White was still there, sitting atop a file cabinet in the back of the room. I had picked it up the last time, hesitated, and replaced it, thinking Letters by E.B. White were enough of him. I was so wrong! Once I started in his letters, I was gravely saddened that I had passed up the opportunity to have his essays. Needless to say, I grabbed it, along with a few others.
I started reading Essays of E.B. White last night in bed, and read Death of a Pig this afternoon. It was kind of sad to read about, as there are so many similarities between what he went through with his pig (of all things!), and what I go through with my daughter. It made my heart pick up pace while reading it. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not at all comparing my daughter to a pig, but comparing my inner turmoil to E.B. White's on some level, though we both did have poop at the center of our grief. His pig, apparently, was really constipated (or something along those lines), and ended up dying because they just couldn't find relief for him no matter what they did. He visited the pig often, searching for the pig's stool, coming up empty handed. Sadly to say, it is so similar to things I have experienced when it comes to my daughter. Her initial symptom of Crohn's Disease was being constipated for week straight. It is agonizing emotionally as a parent to be hovering, fingers and toes crossed, prayers on a constant loop, peering, searching, hoping for some positive change in the health of someone you love so dearly. Being that she is on Miralax daily for the past 7 years, there are many moments where I am thrown back into that whirlwind, emotions running wild all over again. All for the sake of poop. Even though E.B. White was searching for a pig's stool, a pig he had planned eat in the winter months, he had grown to love this animal on a level that was aching his heart to see it suffering. E.B. White wrote:

"I had assumed that there could be nothing much wrong with a pig during the months it was being groomed for murder; my confidence in the essential health and endurance of pigs had been strong and deep, particularly in the health of pigs that belonged to me and that were part of my proud scheme. The awakening had been violent and I minded it all the more because I knew that what could be true of my pig could be true also of the rest of my tidy world. I took a short drink of whiskey and then, although I wanted to go down to the yard and look for fresh signs, I was scared to."

This resonates so much with me. It is exactly how I felt, how I continue to feel. I grew up dreaming about having children, being surrounded by other children throughout jobs as a child care provider and receiving a bachelor degree in Elementary Education in the meantime. Soon after graduating, I married and became pregnant. I was always surrounded by the notion of an adult being able to keep a child healthy, by doing the responsible things that is expected. The nurturing things. Until I was standing before the hospital bed of my 8 year old daughter, listening to her crying out in so much pain, begging for me to help her, pleading to die, knowing there was nothing anyone around us could do, even for her pain. At that point, Crohn's Disease had been running wild for so long, she had several fistula that had broken skin. It had never occurred to me that people truly suffer on such a level. We are brought up to know medicine, and that doctors help. I hadn't known there were times where there are no medicines, no known help from doctors. I love that E.B. White used the word violent, because that is exactly what it feels like. My sudden awareness to all of these things was violent. Violent in my eyes, my ears, my mind, my heart, and most definitely in my soul. And you can't help but to have this violence spread out around you, bleeding to the other parts of your life. Seeing all things through this new awareness is overwhelming, and traumatizing on a certain level. I love that he used the word violent, because I never have in my expressions, and violent is a much better word than any others I have used. It captures that feeling that is so hard to explain. E.B. White is becoming one of my favorite word smiths. I am surprised by this, but loving it all at the same time. 

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