A few years ago, some months before Benjy's first inpatient hospitalization, I began working on an essay titled "Benjy, Awake." It was my first real foray into creative non-fiction. I was filled to bursting with so many emotions, I simply had to write everything down, This was different from the other kinds of writing I had worked on for so many years -- scholarship and fiction.
This was my life.
It sounds clichéd, but art is (often) born of intense pain. My best writing has accompanied our darkest days. Funny, that. And then again, it makes perfect sense.
That essay, "Benjy. Awake," took about two years to emerge in its current form, the form in which it will be published this summer.
But the reason I bring it up here and now is because the title of it seems so apt these days. For a long time it didn't. I wrote that essay with hope. I thought things were looking up. And then, for a dreary and weary stretch, things went steeply downhill.
For a long time, I did not feel much hope at all.
But now, all of a sudden, my boy is awake in all the best ways. Alive to the beauty of sunlit late afternoons, and the blue expanse of clear sky above his head on days like this one. Alive to family love. To the pleasures of physical activity and friends and just feeling good.
He seems a little less dazed. Sharper by a hair. His eyes are not so clouded. He can carry on a conversation. He can engage.
He is getting better, I think. I hope.
There are reasons for that, and those reasons, now that we know about them, are helping us to help him. I think things are going to get better still.
I think he is going to wake, and wake, and wake some more.
And that will fill the rest of us, the ones who love him, with joy.
I can't say more right now. Patience, good Readers. More will come. And when it does, and if it looks the way we expect, the (virtual) drinks will be on me.