Sunday, January 11, 2015

Love Can Be Enough

Guest post by Emma Tobin 

Love Can Be Enough 

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

There are tragedies in human history that cannot be captured in words, calamities that have ravaged the world in fire and bombs, evil that we can hardly comprehend stretching ghostly fingers over our sleeping homes. As humans, we are awfully flawed, but we do have some redeeming qualities, light that makes these memories feel survivable. For all that we feel compelled to kill and maim and hate one another, we have also found something called love.

The universe is filled with bright stars and things as pleasant as coffee and baths and spices, but nothing our human hands have created can ever quite amount to that moment - you feel it juddering between your ribs - when you realise that you love something, or someone, more than you could ever hate them. Oh, and love has cracks and edges, but it swallows you, like a dragon with its great lolling tongue of complications.

Love isn’t wound dressing, it doesn’t make scars fade or turn our lives into magic kingdoms complete with frolicking unicorns and confetti, but it does make a difference. When old grief comes skulking back there’s a hand to hold, a voice that holds our heart in its lilt to soothe the throbbing in our souls. We spend a lot of our time thinking about love, be it love for a person or love for the way that the stars poke through clouds to light up dark places. It’s a human affliction, and as much as it aches, it’s also the most important thing we possess.

As much as love is terrifying and sharp and potentially ruinous, without it we couldn’t have things like poetry and art and dragons. There’s a reason why George Orwell uses romance as the greatest wad of spit in the face of totalitarianism, because love is personal and powerful, and the greatest act of rebellion against an unkind universe is to love anyway, love despite scars and tragedies, love not in order to forget but to dignify the value of human life lost. Love can drive us crazy and prop us up and pull us down, and like anything important it doesn’t have to mean the same thing to everyone.

Some people find love in books, some in numbers, some in people and some in religion. Some people love coffee. The luckiest people find love in themselves. Love is smiling stupidly and hearing your heart shudder your ribs with its surety. Love is when someone says your name like they mean it, when they look at you like you’re more interesting than their shoes. When they forget that anything else exists but you.

I’ve always thought that the most important lesson we can learn from religious faith is that love prevails. I adore the uncompromising belief in children that the one definite thing that God means is love. They see God in their family and their friends and in the things they like to do. Sometimes I think we don’t need to make it more complicated than that. Capitalism has made life all about success, be it financial success or academic success, but when it comes down to it, love is more important than all of that. Love is the root of passion and belief and art.

It’s easy to forget that success does not always have to mean what the world tells you it means. It can mean finding a fantastic book to read or making a new friend or the perfect cup of tea. And love, likewise, is up to you, defined by you. Just because it isn’t drenched in dramatic overtures with sundry explosions in the background doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be the centre of the universe your eyes create. So what if you scratched the car? You have a small pet at home who greets you with wide eyes and bounteous excitement. So what if you’ve got stretch marks and tired eyes? You have peaceful sleeping and peach-scented moisturiser in your future.

The world endeavours to convince us that love is a function, like eating and sleeping, but sometimes, when nothing else makes sense, love can be enough.


 Emma Tobin 

January 2015 

Friday, January 2, 2015

What's another year?

What's another year? 

It's huge! It's a celebration of life and love. It's another milestone for me as someone who quite frankly is lucky to be still here. 

This day 8 year's ago I gave in and went to my GP. I had been really sick all over Christmas and I knew that something was wrong. Bryan forced me to go to the doc as he had watched me getting worse and stubbornly refusing to leave the kids at Christmas - Emma was 9 and Cathal was 2. 

I had been vomiting since 8 December - on and off - and was getting weaker and sicker. 

So on 2 January 2007 I took the kids and went to the GP. Bryan had gone back to work. 

The GP told me I looked ghastly and took a whole series of bloods. She have me an anti-sickness injection. I had missed the blood courier so I volunteered to drive my bloods over to Naas hospital for testing/analysis. 

We went home and I put Cathal down for a nap and Emma and I put on a Christmas movie. I fell asleep ....

I was woken an hour or two later by a phone call which went like this: 
Doc: Brenda it's Dr Ciara here. Your bloods are back from Naas. 
Me: ok - that was quick
Doc: I need you to go to hospital 
Me: What? 
Doc: I need you to go to hospital 
Me: can I go tomorrow - I'm home alone with the kids (it was about 4pm) 
Doc: no, you need to get to hospital now
Me: What's wrong? 
Doc: your creatinine is very high 
(I knew that meant kidneys were in trouble) 
Me: can I go to Naas hospital later tonight or tomorrow? 
Doc: no we need to get you to Dublin to either James's or Tallaght today, now,as soon as possible. 
Me: really? 
Doc: I am writing your referral letter now so which hospital?
Me: Tallaght? 
Doc: ok can you come in to me to get the letter. 
Me: ok

I was stunned. I knew I was sick but it was so bad I had to go to Dublin? 

I sorted the kids and drove in to get the letter. I cried all the way in. The receptionist was so sweet to me and that made me cry even more. 

The letter was sealed but I opened it and scanned the bloods. They were bad. The diagnosis was kidney failure with a question mark beside it. I put it away and rang Bryan who was stunned it was something do serious. He left his office to make the journey home. I cried all the way home at the thoughts of leaving the kids. 

I got home and made dinner for the kids. I arranged for a friend to take Cathal and told Emma to pack up some stuff. I emptied the dishwasher and did some ironing (as you do).

Bryan arrived and we packed a bag for me too in case I was kept in. 

The doctor rang to see if I was on my way! That made me even more scared. 

We dropped Cathal off and headed for Tallaght A & E which is no fun at any time of the year but on Jan 2nd it was a nightmare. 

There was a guy in a suit liaising with patients to tell us how long we had to wait. After an hour or more I wanted to scream at him to stop telling me I was a major and would be seen ..... I was really miserable.

There were time wasters and people treating it like a social club. I remember one woman who had dropped a wine bottle on her foot in NYE and she was phoning her friends telling them to come up to A & E for the Craic.

I was feeling worse by the minute. I think the anti sickness injection was wearing off because I started vomiting and having explosive diarrhoea again which in very unpleasant to manage in a  public toilet. 

The triage nurse came out and took my letter. She was back 5 mins later to tell me they were preparing a place for me. When I heard those words the passage from John's gospel flashed across my brain "there are many rooms ..." It's a popular reading at funerals! I was losing it... 

Emma chatted away and Bryan worried. I was taken through to a bay after 10pm and I was sure I was going to be home later that night. 

By 11pm I had bloods taken and vitals were assessed. There was a lot of head scrAtching. They said it was most likely a virus and asked if I had been to Africa or anywhere else like that where I might have picked something up. They mentioned rheumatic fever at one point. 

I told Bryan and Emma to go home as it was so late. I was convinced I would be calling home in the early hours trying to arrange a lift. 

I spoke to a nurse at 11.30pm and asked her did she think I would get home that night? She looked at me and said: "no Brenda, you are a very sick girl". 

I settled in for the night in the cubicle ...running to the loo every 10 minutes and vomiting into my cardboard dish in between. I was given more anti sickness meds and put on fluids.

I was told I was dangerously dehydrated. Sure I had been losing any food and drink I ate since early Dec through vomiting etc

I had a haemoglobin of 7 which is why I was breathless and weak. 

Docs were shocked by my bloods and were amazed I was able to stand. 

I saw more docs and was eventually moved away from the A & E madness into a small side room for observation overnight.

They were pursuing the sickness as a virus but could rule nothing in or out. 

I often wonder looking back and knowing what I know now about bloods - did they know it might be cancer ? 

I never for one moment thought it was cancer. 

But it was. 

Thankfully here I am on 2 January 2015 - a date I never thought I would be writing.... 

Here's to good health in 2015.