Unlike the healthy (perhaps not?) narcissism that I display in my writing, I can be a little shy in person. I also feel a lot more comfortable talking about Schuyler (or just about any other topic you might bring up) than myself, which is probably something I need to get over in roughly twenty-three days. It feels strange, as it must to a lot of authors, having to simultaneously present myself as both salesman and merchandise. Add to that the fact that I tend to feel big and clumsy and unattractive at these events ("Oh my god, who invited the Cloverfield monster to this thing?"), and I don't know, perhaps I should re-evaluate that whole "not drinking heavily" decision.
The party this week wasn't bad, though. I saw a lot of people whom I've met before, I got to talk a bit to a journalist whose work I really dig, and most of all I got to spend some time with a friend whom I haven't seen in a while. We went and got a bite to eat after the schmoozefest, and I found myself opening up about some aspects of this whole experience that I haven't really allowed myself before. I don't know why I've been so reticent to do so, especially since I expressed much of it in my book. I guess it's easier to type my guts out than actually talk about these things.
The topic of personal strength came up. Everyone wants to be strong, and I suspect that on some level we all feel as if we've failed in that regard. I can say for certain that I do. I admitted something that I haven't expressed very often to that many people, the fact that I cry almost every day. Never in front of anyone, and it's never a big deal, but at least on the days that I go to work, I can get a little weepy. (My office is forty-five miles away; perhaps THAT'S why I'm crying.) I get it out of my system, and then when I get home, I'm ready to do what's got to be done.
I went back to my archives here to see if I'd ever spoken about this before. I didn't find anything exactly on topic, but I did find this, which is close, I guess.
Sometimes the way broken parents of broken children get through it all is to step into the dark and lose their fucking minds, to cry hard and insult God as the bully that he undeniably is, and just stop being the brave little soldier for a while.
That's how it happens. You exhaust yourself of the frustration and the unfairness of it. You empty out that part of you, the little pit in the center of you that stores away the fear and the anger and the protective fire that you can use against child molesters and internet bullies and mean bitey dogs but not against God and Fate and a child's brain.
And then you wait for it to slowly fill again, I guess.
One of the stories that I share in the book but hadn't ever actually told anyone before took place the evening that we got Schuyler's diagnosis, back in the summer of 2003, roughly a thousand years ago. I had to go straight from the doctor's office to a meeting at work, where I mostly just sat in the back and pretended to watch a Powerpoint presentation while my heart broke into jagged little shards. When the meeting was over, I stopped by my desk and googled "congenital bilateral perisylvian syndrome", and when I'd read quite enough, I left for home.
On the way, I saw an old Gothic-looking church that I passed every day, and something just snapped. I pulled over, got out of the car and, in my anger and my hurt, actually attempted to vandalize the church. (I didn't succeed; put down your bibles and relax.) Finally I dropped to the ground and offered up to God what was perhaps the most sincere prayer that I ever prayed in my life. It was a ridiculous prayer, but it was one that I meant with everything I was.
I asked God to take Schuyler's monster from her and give it to me instead. I probably didn't ask so much as demand it, really. I was thirty-five years old. I'd said enough in my lifetime. Give it to me and let her walk away free of it.
I know how silly that sounds now. But at that moment, I wanted it so much and meant it so sincerely that as soon as I said it, I sat quietly for a moment, waiting for it to happen, bracing myself for the transformation that I knew was coming, that HAD to come, because I wished for it so hard and because it was fair, it was a fair trade.
God said no. And so I cry when no one's looking, and I hold a grudge against God, because he was wrong to say no.
In his interview in D Magazine, Tim Rogers asked Schuyler about her dreams. I'm not sure if she understood what he meant, but she said that she dreamed of Santa (well, of course she did), and that I dreamed of King Kong. As a matter of fact I don't, swell though Kong may be.
I dream of Schuyler, but not as she is. In my dreams, she speaks to me, always comforting me, telling me that everything's going to be okay. I've written about that before, both here and in the book. But it's only now that I realize something else about these dreams, something that I never noticed before.
In my dreams, she speaks to me, but I almost never speak back to her.
The Schuyler in my dreams is the little girl that she would be if God had said yes, I suppose. Some dreams deserve to come true; some prayers deserve to be answered. I still haven't made peace with the fact that they haven't, but I'm still working on it.