I shiver intensely in my home office in spite of the portable heater blasting at my side and my sweatshirt hood up. But I’m not cold.
I have the beginnings of heartburn and a headache. But I’m not sick.
I’m about to click “open” on the computer folder marked 6500. It looks pretty harmless - it’s just the files we exported years ago from our ancient Power PC. But I know what’s in there.
When it opens, I stare at the screen and put my hands in my lap for a few minutes. There it is - what I was looking for. I click on the folder marked BOOK.
I shake so uncontrollably now it hurts my shoulders.
These are the files I see:
Chapter 2: Why I was who I was
Chapter 3: Matt’s early years
Chapter 4: Changes begin
Chapter 5: Dr. W
Dr. W. I know her full name like it was yesterday. And where is chapter 1?
Chapter 6: Lorenzo’s Oil
Oh my God - Lorenzo’s Oil.
Chapter 7: Drawing nearer
Chapter 8: First neurologist
Chapter 8.5: First neurologist follow-up
Chapter 9: First psychiatrist, second neurologist
Maybe I can’t do this. Maybe I can’t tell this story after all. Maybe I don’t want to.
Chapter 10: 2nd psychiatrist
Chapter 11: MRI day
Chapter 12: Post-diagnosis, pre-surgery
Chapter 13: Children’s hospital
What about everything that happened after? Don’t I have a Chapter 14? Where’s the rest of the story?
It’s been so long since I cried about this, but I cry now. I don’t know where to start - what to open first. I sit and stare at the screen for awhile again. I’m afraid to go deeper.
Finally, I pick a file, click, and get this message:
Adobe Acrobat Reader DC could not open 'chap 2 - Why I was who I was' because it is either not a supported file type or because the file has been damaged (for example, it was sent as an email attachment and wasn't correctly decoded).
Oh shit. F***! Are you kidding me? All this time, and I might have to start from scratch?
I try a few more files, but they all produce the same message. I hope Michael can figure it out, otherwise I’m screwed. But a small part of me is relieved for the moment. I took the plunge without having to pierce the murky waters today. Maybe it’s a good place to stop, go make some tea, think about something else.
As I head downstairs, I give thanks that Matt is alive and healthy, a grown young man now. Every time I see him is Thanksgiving Day - I can wrap my arms around him, marvel at his intelligence, laugh at his wit, rejoice in the mundane details of his life.
He got through it.
So will I.