That Birthday In Captivity

If you are new to this blog of the upcoming book Viking Funeral, celebrating the life of Dave Linane with booze, words, and fire, welcome.  The timeline above shows you where we are in the book. While each chapter can stand on its own if you wish to read from the beginning, click here.  More info is available, About Dave or the FAQ section explains who the book is about and the arc of the storyline. If you found me through a grief group, this page of my perspective of why we are all here in this place right now may be helpful. XO M

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Birthdays are possibly a more significant day to the parent of the birthday boy in this case than to the birthday boy himself. The day is a lovely time for reflection of the story of everything about the birthday celebrant, the child created by you, being delivered upon this earth, changing our lives forever. Revisited are the jokes and joy attached to that day, reflections of the milestones since, holidays, cub scouts, the ridiculous wild adventures gone wrong, sports events and awards, graduations, aspirations.

My parents were, for the first time, dreading the birthday of one of their children. Only that horror from November showed up in the annual review of their lives as they anticipated the arrival of the date on the calendar that March. Only that horror saturated them, forced itself on center stage in any reflections of days gone by to the current moment.

As time does, it marched on, and the dreaded day of previous joy arrived, Dave’s birthday, March 13, 1974, four months in complete hospital captivity. It wasn’t the Ides of March but felt like it. They headed to the hospital that evening with a cake. They tiredly dragged their exhausted shells of existence out of the car. They crossed the hospital parking lot, went through the glass double doors, down the long muted dark mustard brown hallway that smelled of disinfectant toward Dave’s door at the end of that hall as they had every day since he had been moved from the ICU back in November.

The halls were quiet; the ward was quiet in all directions that spread out from the crossroads of the halls that intersected where his room was located. His door was closed as it frequently was. Their hearts were heavy as they braced themselves for facing Dave on this day that they should be celebrating anywhere but here. They gathered themselves as they opened the door and dug deep for a charge of feigned energy and smiles to greet Dave.

Except they couldn’t open the door more than an inch because they bumped into something. In opening the door a crack, it forced its way out. Sounds of happiness contained by the walls of his room escaped to invite them. The room was so packed with young people who had come to celebrate Dave’s birthday that my parents had to squeeze themselves and a cake through the narrow opening. They were instantly overcome by the ecstatic energy of the room that was bursting at the seams with laughter, music and wall-to-wall people celebrating, a keg on ice, dancing, singing, girls fawning over and kissing Dave on his birthday! They had stepped through a veritable magic portal to another place entirely, not unlike a secret door into the middle of the hospital. A sign hung on the wall that read “Dis Mus Be Da Place.”  It definitely was THE place for all those young people to be, with their friend celebrating his birthday like no other party before.

My parents were at the hospital at different times every day, my mom during the day, my dad in the evening directly after work. Dave’s friends arrived much later in the evening after both of our parents had gone home to their other children who needed them. They had a vague idea that some kids were there every night, and I am sure his birthday included that crowd of everyone, but this was such an amazing moment for them.

My parents needed that party possibly more than Dave. They left floating on a cloud many miles above the hospital parking lot where they left their car hours earlier. When we see so many people being so kind toward or remembering our loved ones, it is a very special cloud to be on, and my parents really needed that bit of cloud magic on that particular day.

People who do things large and small for the people they love do not do these things for recognition; they simply do them from a place of love. My parents didn’t go to the hospital every day for recognition, nor did his friends. But damn, consider this just a tiny bit of recognition, a thank you to the staff who NEVER followed the stupid visitor or quiet rules and let Dave celebrate life with his friends as much as possible. More thank yous to all his beautiful friends who were there to visit him every day, not every friend every day, but some, and the many who came every weekend and definitely for those who were there to celebrate that birthday in captivity, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

© Mardi Linane Copyright 2020

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