Apologies one and all, the surgery went well and The Owner is back walking me on the beach….Yesss!!! This post is a little different from usual, it is the first chapter of a book he is working on. He is looking for a publisher so please read and if you know of someone you could refer him to, then please get in touch.(firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dusk 3rd January
It’s wet and cold, a winter time evening in Alabama. The damp air smells so different to summer, none of the heady fragrances of over ripened strawberries and fresh cut melon, just the dank, dark smell of decaying leaves and wet dog. It sounds different too, quiet, missing is the sound of children playing, replaced only with the sound of rain dripping from the naked branches of trees. Our home, a trailer that I share with my brother stands on an acre of Alabama soil, the cedars that surround us standing like sentinels, enveloping us in their secure embrace. Year round they guard us, protecting against wind and rain in the winter, shading us from the brutal sun in summer, and granting us privacy from prying eyes all year around. This is my solitude, and I guard it fiercely. Glancing over to the passenger seat of my truck, there looking up at me is my constant companion Diago, my 8 year old Jack Russell. I return my attention to the road and then I scream “Oh Dear God I can’t see!!”
Closing my eyes I whisper “Breathe Hodie, breathe.” Gradually getting control of my breathing, my very own breathing. I can still hear the rain drumming on the cab of my truck, I can still smell the faint air mouldy leaves. “Get a grip Hodie, get a grip” I murmur to myself as I slowly open my eyes. It’s not a dream, I am still in my truck, and I am still parked outside my home surrounded by the cedars. That same Chevy truck that I bought four years ago, that same Chevy truck that I have not been able to drive for the last two years. “Dammit Hodie, why do you do this to yourself girl? Blinded by the light?” I snort as I look up at the rear view mirror. I still can’t see in the dark, and I know it’s not getting better anytime soon. Time to switch off the engine and go back inside.
Darkness 3rd January
Time to eat. Feed my Diago and feed myself. I hit my meal time routine, the routine without which I know I will be lost. Saturday evening, I decide to risk a burn from the stove and cook for myself, Korean noodles and stir-fried vegetables, all in one pot. On a bad symptom day I run the risk of getting burnt, and honestly on those days it’s not worth it. I used to love to cook. Diago eats what I eat. I set the table every day, place mat, knife and fork, napkin, glass of water. I am still a lady of the south. I say grace and eat, savouring every mouthful of the meal that I prepared myself. Clean-up routine, clean the counter, scrub the stove, straighten the cover on the couch, make sure the pictures are straight, everything perfect. I inspect the kitchen, and mentally compare it to the list, all boxes ticked.
Bedtime routine commences, check all the locks, convince myself that I did not miss any, and then check all the locks again. Prayers. Check all the locks again. Brush my teeth, wash my face and then PJ’s. The worn flannel ones I bought 3 years ago in the Walmart sale, the ones that remind me of bed-time stories with my Grandfather, him reading me to sleep. Brush my teeth again and force myself to look at the reflection in the mirror, “Tomorrow will be better Hodie, sleep will come tonight and tomorrow will be better…” my mantra. Switch off the light and into my bed, Diago joins me on the bed and I open up the lap-top, just an hours browsing I promise myself, then sleep will come.
My Grandfather, was not just a Grandfather to me, he together with my Grandmother provided the only safe harbour that I have ever known. He passed away in 1996 when I was 16. Since then my Grandmother, and she is the example which I strive to follow. She is a Lady and is a daily part of my life, we chat every day. I log on to my Facebook page to see his smile and remind of those words I wrote. They come from memory but I still read them word by word every night:
“In honour of my Grandpa. Happy Father’s day Grandpa. I miss you daily more than words can express but, I know the Lord needed you home. You taught me unconditional love and what it means to be a dad. I was blessed to have you in my life. You’re loved and missed beyond words every day but, especially so today in the day we celebrate our dads. May the Lord give you my message and angels hug you tight since, I can’t do it myself I pray your celebrating Father’s day with your dad and our heavenly Father. I love you Grandpa. Happy Father’s day to you & our heavenly Father whom you introduced me to. Thank You R.I. P….. Love isn’t an adequate word for my gratitude & appreciation. (Xxx) Hugs to Heaven… Love your girl.”
I browse, and browse finding pictures that are supposed to inspire courage, perfect sunsets with perfect words ‘There is no I in team’, I post them on my Facebook page and continue to search for answers… I still can’t sleep. I am a 35 year old woman who is afraid of the dark, a woman slowly going blind, and I am afraid of the dark…the irony of that fact cut’s to the bone. “Browse on Hodie, browse on…” I murmur but I am not fooling myself anymore. The answer is not out there, it is in me, and I have to get it out of me before it is too late.
Dawn 4th January
It’s getting light outside, I have not slept, but with the dawn comes the light, and I now know what it is I need to do. I prayed for an answer last night, and got one, not the clear and simple answer I asked for but a path. My God never gives me the easy ones, he likes me to have to work at it. My story is a long and complicated one, but I have always known was to be told. I have tried to write it many times but every time I started, I found a better reason to stop.
It will still my story but I don’t have to write it myself. The path I found this morning leads me to a novice writer who lives in Ireland, I have never met him, I have never even spoken to him, he has only started writing three months ago and that consists of a weekly blog about living with Parkinson’s disease. The perfect choice… I couldn’t have picked a better candidate!! Urgency however drives me on, the need to do this soon, before I am completely blind. Yesterday evening in my truck was no accident, it was a sign of what’s to come, a tap on the shoulder to say “Get on with it Hodie, times a wasting.”
Daylight 4th January
“Ok you can do this girl, you just need to ask!” I repeat this to myself over and over. Check Facebook, “Yes!!” he is online. “Oh shit, he is online, oh shit, oh shit. Enough, breathe Hodie. Just ask him!!” I click on messenger, what’s the worst that can happen? He might just say yes… He does, he say yes! So many questions, how do we collaborate across 3,972 miles (I checked it) and six time zones (I checked that 2!) I have no idea how we are going to make this work, but we resolve to try to write two chapters. I am excited and terrified all at once, but one thing comes back to me time after time. I go back online, he is offline so I have time to compose myself and ensure that I make myself absolutely clear so I ponder and then type:“You know something about me, medically speaking, but my story goes very much deeper. My childhood was what nightmares are made of… can u mentally handle that? It is emotional & tough to hear much less write. If at any stage you want to stop, you just say… I want you tell my story, not a pity me…. but a book of enlightenment, hope, and awareness.”
He has asked me to read one poem, Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night” and then come back to him. I read the words and now I know for sure. He gets me, I don’t know how or why, but I know we can do this. I don’t want to pass from this world without having done this, to be forgotten. I resolve to do this, not for me, but for others, so they may learn from my experiences.
He has no idea what he is about to let himself in for… neither for that matter do I.