Monthly Archives: March 2016

Defending Silence

           I’ve started 3 new posts in the last month, and scrapped them all. Some tell me there are no excuses for this, but I maintain there are reasons: First, my wife, lover and partner of 38 years underwent back surgery Feb. 2nd.  She was home in a couple of days, and is healing nicely. But with back surgery there is always the lurking fear: Will it heal as hoped? Will not only the pain but the weakness and associated problems clear with time? What normal functions will be lost for how long? Finally, after a month of worry I was able to think clearly enough to write a small piece (“Politics”).

          And almost immediately after we were faced with a new, more frightening crisis: My daughter, the apple of our eyes now grown to womanhood and parenthood and entering the “change” could suddenly no longer cope with the perfect storm of professional, biological and medical problems that rained down on her and she had a brief – and very terrifying – break with reality. A breakdown which put her in the Behavioral Unit at the local hospital for a week, and left us frozen inside. Not because her case was so terribly bad or the diagnosis at all foreboding, but because we-as-a-family were ill-equipped to handle it. There was no common folk wisdom to turn to for help: “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” “Chicken soup is the best remedy” There was only: “what was it I learned in psych class 40+ years ago? And how do you address what you are unable to point at and quantify?” Our (MIne and my wife’s and our family’s) lives froze in place while we wrestled with unanswerable questions.

          And for me the worst part was that it was not MY affliction that I could write about and expose to the light of day and look at from afar as a reader. It was someone else’s problem and I could not discuss it without her permission. I even tried, but it felt unethical and eventually stopped me cold since I hadn’t asked. Trying to pick an alternate subject was futile. I found that no matter what subject I tried to write about, it related in my mind to the crisis in my daughter’s life and I was stumped. I couldn’t think clearly enough to overcome the block and finish a post.

          Now, of course, with her permission secured, I can only write about my own reaction to all of this. I don’t presume to understand the horrors she must have felt, knowing things weren’t right; knowing she was not choosing to behave strangely or ramble about nonsense as she was, and not know why. -Or how to stop. -Or how to explain to those she loved what was happening to her. The loss of our contact with our place in the world, our grip on the realities of life, is perhaps out worst of all nightmares, and my own daughter was living through it.  Neither I nor her mother nor her own sons could do anything of real use to help her. In the end it was her own private battle for her life, and thank God above she was able win it, and start the long road back. It will take time and effort and love, but she will succeed. I know it.

          Just as I know that (hopefully) soon I will be able to write of other things again: Things like why the sight or mention of Donald Trump immediately makes me think of Chuancy Gardener, the Peter Sellers character in “Being There”. And: Is Damien’s name actually Donald?  Stay tuned.


Vince Katarzynski