Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Max and Oliver Sacks

We've just come back from 4 days at the beach.  We rented a fabulous Arts and Crafts style house for a week in Seaside Park, NJ.  It was steps from the beach, and even with lousy weather, I was in heaven drinking coffee on the porch at 6 AM every day.

But Max wasn't.  After 4 days, he was done.  He pitched a huge fit, screaming, throwing things in our rented house, biting my arm and scratching me so hard his fingernails bent and broke in my right wrist.  When he calmed down, he was able to explain to me that every night when he goes to bed, he forgets all about the house we had rented.  He forgets where things are, and how to operate the TV remote, and what chair is comfortable.  Every night, he said, he "forgets this house".  And when he wakes up in the morning, "I have to start all over again," he said.  This description (of what is some serious brain dysfunction) could not be ignored.  I wondered what Oliver Sacks would think.  Then Henry confessed he was home-sick, and willing to come home, as well.

So I gave Max his meds, fed him some dinner and stuck the boys in front of the TV while I packed up our well-stocked beach house in about an hour.  Then we started for home.  I tried to be angry, or depressed, or feel like it was unfair.  I didn't really feel any of those things.  I am not hopeless, but I am without hope.  This is just my life, and I can do nothing to improve or change it.  This is as good as it gets, and mostly, as bad as it gets, too.

It was a long drive home, in some light rain.  The kids slept and watched movies, and I just drove, thinking about as little as I could.  Thinking isn't any more helpful than therapy is, most of the time.  What if I realize that this sucks.  Sucks so much that it isn't a life unless Max is somewhere else.  What might that mean?  Max goes to school on September 2, and the Jewish holidays come shortly after that.  He'll be away for them for the second time, which means that I'll actually have the ability to attend services on my own terms.  Which is tough, because I am not on speaking terms with G-d right now.  I don't much feel like atoning, since this life feels like a punishment much of the time. Am I supposed to feel sorry for things I've done, even before Max's scratches into my arm have had the chance to heal?  I'm not sorry.  I'm kind of proud I haven't done worse, given what's come my way this year.

I miss the beach.  Even in the rain, I loved it.  I loved the house, the unfamiliar coffee mugs, and the few blocks I had to walk to get a taco.  I've always wanted to rent a beach house, and now I have. Sort of.  Dave and I will wait until the kids get so big that they won't want to come, I guess.  And then I'll sit on my rented porch and drink my coffee at 6 AM.


  1. Oh you poor thing, I'm sorry that things didn't go well. It's hard that a vacation you so desperately need is impossible.

  2. Sam,
    You are not alone in not being on speaking terms with G-d.
    “Celebrating” our religious holy days just isn’t a celebration when I can only share it with ¾ of my children. And I don’t feel like I’m following what my faith teaches when I honestly don’t want the last ¼ there at all.

    I'm glad that you did get a few cups of coffee in the beach house.