“Bring me down? You can not bring me down! I say my love is too high! You can not bring down…” Boy, do I ever love her laugh at 2 min mark!
I want to hold the hand of a lover under the covers laying in bed, while walking at night in the park, while driving country roads in the car.
I want to hold the hand of a friend as she tells me her secret thoughts or maybe we just sit silently.
I want to hold my grandmother’s hand again, feel her soft worked-in skin, her strong bony fingers.
I want to go to the hospital and hold hands with strangers who need a hand to hold. Need it more than medicine and more than words.
I want to hold hands with my brother, both in our forties now, and trammel all taboos that hold one heart at a distance from another.
About this piece: I wrote this recently as a 10-minute exercise in a workshop held by Melinda Burns. Melinda is a local Guelph writer who has been leading writing workshops for three decades. She is an incredible talent and one of the gentlest people I know. If you’re interested in writing with her, there’s a Fiction Workshop starting up next Thursday, March 13th, 2014 and running every two weeks until May 22nd.
I am the one who is willing to grow. Fresh, bright, blooming. From mud, from shit, from seed, then sprout. From sunshine and rain, cooling wind. From garden bed. From a beginningless past, a universe of conditions. Bumping and exploding through space and time.
I tell stories. Like, I am the yellowest flower on the table. Or, I remember a day that smelled like fresh cut grass. And O, Lordy, when they came to cut me down, you can’t believe the tears. Sit and let me tell you about how my petals are numbered, won’t be long before I wilt, then wither, then decompose.
Endless stories tell endless stories tell endless stories.
I am the one being grown. Life streams around me and through me. Regardless of how I feel about it. If I rail against it or if I dance with it. Doesn’t matter. It unfolds and unfolds and unfolds.
I am the one who is willing to change, to relax, to listen as much as I talk.
I am willing to be, lived.
Last week Reddit hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Allena Hansen, who in 2008 was savagely attacked by a bear while walking alone with her dogs on her ranch in Kern County, California. With her face torn apart and believing she would not likely survive, she drove herself 4 miles to a mountain fire station and was airlifted to UCLA Medical Center. She retells the story with gripping detail and a refreshing offhand humour — answering questions from and holding her own with curious Redditors.
After it had gnawed my head awhile, I decided to open my eyes and look at what was killing me. It’s expression was so bland and businesslike it enraged me so I managed to jab my thumb into its piggy little eye and it let go of my face long enough for me to yell for my dogs. Once the dogs came running, it was diverted long enough for me to get up and try to escape down the creekbed.
Allena has recently written a book about her experience, Chomp, Chomp, Chomp; How I Survived a Bear Attack and Other Harrowing Tales. She also has a Facebook page. Hopefully, the sale of her book and general publicity around her story will bring in enough money for her to cover her outstanding medical bills.
Apparently, the cosmetic and dental portions weren’t covered by her insurance, and a great amount of the damage was done to her face and mouth (WARNING this next quote is not for the faint of heart):
Basically what happened is that the bear charged, grabbed me by the ears and bit into my face. In doing so, it destroyed the bridge of my nose, tore off my ears, chewed out fourteen teeth and much of my upper gums and palate. It also ripped off my lips and tore apart my face and scalp.
Of course, as you would expect from someone with this much courage and moxy, Allena had already lived quite a life before the attack. Raised in the 60s, according to the description given with her book, she had a “stint as Playboy’s token intellectual bimbo.”
Why my morbid interest? Haven’t you ever wondered what it’s going to be like when you’re staring your own death in the face?
I also very much enjoyed and laughed heartily when I clicked through on the link contributed by /u/PasswordLost, who pipes up not too far into the Reddit thread, and tells Allena:
You made it to the end of this chart!
10: I am actively being mauled by a bear.