I shiver intensely in my home office in spite of the portable heater blasting at my side, and the sweatshirt hood cinched around my face. 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 only 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. It’s the memoir I started years ago and dropped several years later. I couldn’t finish it.
I shake so uncontrollably now it hurts my shoulders.
These are the files that catch my eye:
Chapter 3: Matt’s early years
That was before the whole nightmare began, I think. I imagine him running through the yard, Sparky - our border collie mutt - chasing after him.
Chapter 5: Dr. W
I know her full name like it was yesterday. I picture her round face. We liked her so much at first.
Chapter 6: Lorenzo’s Oil
My heart pounds as I see the words in print. Oh my God - Lorenzo’s Oil. I remember sitting at the kitchen table, reading a magazine, discovering the article. It was prophetic. It kept popping up like a bad dream those last few months.
Chapter 8: First neurologist
Chapter 9: First psychiatrist, second neurologist
Chapter 10: Second psychiatrist
Scenes and faces run through my mind. All of them wrong, I think. Until the last one.
Chapter 11: MRI day
I close my eyes, put my hands back in my lap. Maybe I can’t do this. Maybe I can’t tell this story after all. I take a deep breath. Maybe I don’t want to.
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' because it is either not a supported file type or because the file has been damaged.
Oh shit. F***! Are you kidding me? All this time, and I can't open my files? I can’t write all this again - I can't start over.
I try a few more files, but they all produce the same message. I hope Michael can figure it out, otherwise I’m screwed, I think.
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 my story ended the way it did. I remind myself that Matthew is alive and healthy, a grown young man now, out on his own. Every time I see him, 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.
This is the first installment in a series of blogs about my memoir, which is in progress. Read the other installment here. If you’re intrigued by my story, please subscribe to my blog here so I can let you know when my memoir is finished. When that happens, I’d be honored if you would read it.