UPDATE: FEBRUARY 1ST, 2016, THE 3RD ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF MY DAUGHTER, ELIZABETH
On the school recess field were small groups of kids, the populars, the nerds, the sports teamers and a child alone on the school steps. The laughing, animated children in the groups were no different to the child on the steps; they were kids yet to develop emotional intuition. They saw but do not see that child. They were happy in their groups feeling included with their friends and all was good. But what if you do not have a friend at school or in adult life; if you feel, “different”, maybe are “different” and the “difference” tells you and others there is a piece of the jigsaw that does not fit? Involvement with peers is vitally important to children.
The story in 1955 of the prematurely born twins not doing well until a nurse decided to put them together in the same incubator, the iconic photo of one twin with its arm around the other, hit the headlines and changed the face of medicine.
Today, doctors realize newborns in incubators need to be held, to feel human touch, to feel nurtured. Conversation is a complex art, one with which we all struggle. To express ourselves in tender, sincere, loving, respectful ways is quite some skill. To some, conversation comes easily. To others, conversation is difficult and theirs is a more silent world. “No man is an Island” is the human need for social connection. To be happy, we must feel loved, valued, have a soul mate, be in love and be loved. Our Moms and Dads nurtured us through our childhood and, in the natural order of evolution, they pass away. We thank them for their lovingness, for their caring and remember them with tenderness. Now, it is our turn to be moms and dads, to raise our children in loving arms among caring family and friends. We acknowledge that we are social beings yet, oddly, if we talk about our feelings, there are those who turn away. Conversation is everyman’s puzzle which doesn’t make sense because we come into this life with vocal chords. Deciding what, when, where, to whom, indeed, whether, to reveal our feelings, is a conundrum. Safer to say nothing. People with mental sickness survive in a fake life. That faking is hard work; eventually it can be overwhelming. We fear to tread into an unknown and different world, a world in which we are uncomfortable, afraid to open up things that could be hurtful, to re-visit old wounds, to say the wrong thing. Safer to say nothing. It is even more uncomfortable and incomprehensible to the few fortunate enough to pass through life untouched by association with mental illness. Thus those with mental illness remain alone, yearning to talk, to know somebody cares, always seeking love, inclusion, connection to groups, a place of acceptance. Like the new born twins, without touch, they will not survive. The word “stigma” is overused in social media, in the classroom. As with war and poverty, when words are bandied about, the tendency is to become desensitized. Reclassify it as humanity, caring, compassion, love or just plain concern. Those consumed with self who do not pause to listen to the words of others are not holding conversation. Conversation does not exclude or ignore. Conversation is not anecdotes, incidences, disconnected fragments and monologues. Conversation is eye-to-eye, listening, hearing, responding with focus, interest, inquiry and feeling. The old joke says it all. “How are you today?” “I’m feeling suicidal”. “Oh wonderful, give my regards to your wife”. To have real conversation, we must connect the fragments to the whole, listen attentively and respond meaningfully. Conversation is always a two-way process, back and forth. Takes a little effort, though! Please feel free to share this.
February 1st, 2016
For my little sister.
The waves of sadness that crash over me so suddenly I don’t know what’s hit me. I look at my life…my children, my husband, all that I have and wish that Lizzy could have experienced even a piece of that. It’s all she wanted, love and acceptance, a family of her own. I pray for my little sister every night. I pray that she is no longer hurting and like my brother Nick said, ” is running free, shedding the shackles of this world, boundless in her joy and wonder.”
My little sister was a beautiful human being, kind and sweet. The world was a better place with her in it and now it is left to us to pick up the pieces.
Mental illness effects all of us either directly or indirectly, please recognize those that need your help, reserve judgement and make a difference.
Your loving sister
February 1st, 2016
Reflections on my sister Elizabeth.
So much can change, so suddenly, but so little is noticed. Almost no one knows. What is meaning in the midst of this? Everything is different but the world just keeps turning and somehow almost everything is the same, though so profoundly different for a scant few that it is jarring in its contrast. It’s like everything has happened but nothing has happened. Being and non-being. One moment and then the next – all is altered and cannot be reversed, yet (almost) all is the same. How are these states reconciled? We are all three years older and there are still more questions than answers.
For now, I hold you in my mind, as you were as a child, young and carefree. I hope you are running free now, shedding the shackles of this world, boundless in your joy and wonder
Your loving brother
February 1st, 2016
3 years ago today we lost a beautiful spirit at BCSS Victoria. We still miss you in our humble circle. You taught us so much before and after you left us. We miss your laughter and good humour. Elizabeth Bogod we are thinking of you, your family and friends. xo
February 1st, 2016
To my former room-mate Elizabeth Bogod !! You were a lovely lady, full of wonder and love. You were always looking for love and approval, and somehow you couldn’t seem to find it. You were a very dear friend, and you had so many wonderful qualities about you…always giving and always loving… I miss you and will always love you !! I pray you are at peace as well…until we meet again my friend !!!
Sunday, 1st February 2015, the second anniversary of Elizabeth’s death. Elizabeth’s parents went to Ucluelet, a 5-hour drive from Victoria up Vancouver Island. Ucluelet is a small logging country town on the North Pacific Coast. January to March, it is renown for its crashing, rolling waves and the surf-boarders who challenge its ocean.
It was an opportunity to mourn, to think, to remember, as they walked the sandy beaches and the trails of old, large and high fir trees. They lit a Memorial Candle which burned for 24 hours. The light is out again, Elizabeth, but your light lives in every-bodies’ hearts.
Family news is that Nicholas and Carolin have a six month year old baby girl, Kate, and due this Thursday coming, your sister, Karen is expected to deliver a baby girl as yet unnamed. We all recall how good you were with kids, how you would paint with them, read your poetry to them, particularly the video story “The Tree”.
Your cousins in Los Angeles are remembering their son, Jack, who passed away just a day or so before you but two years before. He was 21. Below is a rather beautiful poem his father, Keith, wrote:-
A tree falls
And something beloved
Is gone forever.
A darkness begins.
The absence of light is so complete,
we despair of ever seeing again.
we just stand blinking into the darkness.
It takes a minute before we realize
We are alive
And still breathing.
There is a certain dreadful calm in that darkness.
We are safe.
We want to stay there forever.
We reach out to explore the dark, and
If we are lucky,
We find a chair and are able to sit down.
If we are very lucky, we feel a hand and clasp it.
We are surprised; we were sure we were alone.
But that hand leads us to another,
And then to another,
And with that clasping of hands, we can see
At the edge of a horizon we thought was gone forever,
First glimmer of dawn.
UPDATE: Saturday, February 1st, 2014 was the first anniversary of Elizabeth’s death. We lit a Memorial Candle and talked about her – all the sad and so many good things. We all miss her so much and the pain is with us all. It is disturbing to think she is not here with us in 2014.
On Sunday, February 2nd 2014 with a group of Elizabeth’s close friends, we attended church service. The sermon, though in no way planned for the event, was coincidentally very insightful: “bad things can just happen – no blame to either God or person”. After Church, as a group, we went to brunch.
Elizabeth, so many things have happened since you left us, changes that might have helped to make a difference. We will never know. This comes with all our love, Mom, Dad, Nicholas and Carolin. You are forever in our hearts. In Toronto, Karen and Tim had a “sharing circle”with Stori, Tatum and Lucie who each played the piano, lit a Memorial Candle, and sent their love.