Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mental Defense, or Confessions of a Warped Mind (?)

I'll let you be the judge of which this posting should be titled. Before I start my story, I have to preface it with something that happened on Sunday - I happened across a couple of women in the church library who I didn't know. They were carrying on a lively conversation, and joked that they might look like innocent librarians, but they were really having a therapy conversation. It turned out that one of them really was a therapist, and I told her it was a coincidence I would run into her on that day, because I was currently questioning my sanity. I went on to tell the story I'm going to tell here, and she gave me a clean bill of health. Of course, as I've thought about it, I'm not sure if it was the therapist or the friend who gave me the diagnosis, but I liked it, and the other didn't disagree, so I'm going to run with it. I have to preface the story with that incident, so as not to give the impression of total insanity. Or at least to give myself a defensive argument to the insantiy plea. And after long last...here's the story...

A week ago Monday I got a letter from my missionary son...just like I've gotten on every Monday of the past year, except for the two that weren't written because he was in a third-world hospital with dengue fever, which I didn't know about until after the fact. This particular letter went something like this:

My email isn't working so I didn't get your letter.
My mission president sent me to the doctor and I have Typhoid and Ameobas.
We couldn't baptize the girl we've been teaching.

Now I know how a normal person would read the letter:
My email isn't working so I didn't get your letter.
My mission president sent me to the doctor and I HAVE TYPHOID AND AMOEBAS.
We couldn't baptize the girl we've been teaching.

But this is how I read the letter:
My email isn't working so I didn't get your letter.
My mission president sent me to the doctor and I have Typhoid and Ameobas.
We couldn't baptize the girl we've been teaching.

I was very sad after reading the letter. And I did read the entire letter. I just didn't absorb it all. I sat there chastising myself for not sending a letter to his backup email. Here he's had a discouraging week, and then he didn't even get a letter from his family. I was so sad, in fact, that I forgot to forward the letter to the rest of the family.

When my husband got home from work that night he asked if Daniel had sent a letter. "Oh, didn't I send it?" I asked. "He's fine. But he didn't get our letter. His email wasn't working." And that was the end of it. Didn't give it another thought. Until a whole five days later - Saturday night. I was with my other children, visiting and laughing and having a good time, when all of a sudden the word TYPHOID popped into my head.

"Daniel has typhoid!" I blurted out. The kids gave me a quizzical look. "And something else!" I ran to the computer and found his letter, thinking maybe I'd had a nightmare or something. But I hadn't. He had typhoid, and amoebas (which it turns out is probably the worst of all three tropical diseases he's contracted). My kids were baffled. "You didn't tell us?" "You FORGOT?"

So you see why I was questioning my sanity. Here's the diagnosis, or theory, or whatever you want to call it: There was nothing I could do about it, and I was on stress over-load (I could list a whole slue of health and financial problems my family is experiencing, but this blog is too long already), so my brain brilliantly decided to tuck the news away in some corner, where it was no-doubt curled up in the fetal position sucking it's morbid little thumb, until I was ready to deal with it. It's a pretty neat trick, actually.

As for my son's diagnosis, I wish I knew more, or maybe less, or that there was something I could do for him. I can't begin to describe how helpless I feel. But in the meantime - I wonder how many other things I don't remember?

4 comments:

Tristi Pinkston said...

Will you forgive me if I smile a little bit?

I think we're all like this -- we obsess over the things that are in our realm. You felt guilty that he didn't get your letter, and that's all your brain would let you process. Give up the guilt! You're a great mom!

Suzanne Reese said...

Thanks Tristi! It's good to get a second opinion!

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

Suzanne, I'll keep your son in my prayers. I'm so sorry he's going through this right now. But remember, when it comes down to it, he's in the Lord's care. We can't always understand why things happen, but we can understand that most things are for our good. (D&C 122)

We really missed you last night. Please put January 10th down for lunch with the Blogging Babes. Deets on my blog.

Shellie said...

I'm sure he's going to be fine, just keep the prayers going.