Before I close my eyes, every night, Nancy reaches over and thanks me for coming back. I almost didn't make it back. (for those of you playing along with the home game, this is a reference to my nearly dying and the subsequent coma of 2009). Looking back, there was no choice. I needed to be where I was, but I couldn't stay there. No question. I can't imagine what other coma survivor's experiences have been like, but I know mine certainly surpasses my ability to put it into a tiny box on a dusty shelf somewhere. I live with it every day.
And as a result, every night, just before we say goodnight, Nancy thanks me, for coming back. For staying here.
I asked Nancy last night how you could possibly recognize someone if their face, voice and features were different? If someone occupied a different form, could they still be the same person? Are we nothing more than cute packaging for a memory of actions? Or do our actions define us? Probably more than that I would guess.
Yet, in the coma dreams, there were many instances where I was surrounded by people I know but who in the dream, did not look anything like they do on this side. Nevertheless, they played the same role, said the same words, shared the same memories. All of which makes sense... considering my subconscious had to have something to play with in the first place. But when new ideas are thrown in, new circumstances, unshared experiences, unknown pasts, all converge and create new experiences in the coma-space, it leaves me wondering how much of that impression of the person carries over into our intuitive understanding of that individual? In other words, do our experiences, day to day, basically give us enough to work from, that we sort of guess how the rest of life will pan out? Can we foresee our presumable future?
I wonder because part of me hopes so.
In the coma dreams, Nancy and I finally got to travel. To date, we really haven't travelled much. We've always either been too busy, too broke, or more often... both. In the coma, money didn't have nearly as much relevance. On the other hand, being barefoot makes you appreciate shoes and socks. Pebbles and dust make for poor bed fellows. But the upshot I found was that tears are inevitably salty and warm. I am not sure if that explains why I can cry more easily now.
Today Nancy asked me to photograph her post-new haircut. It made sense. We had the whole studio set up for some portrait work I had done back on Friday. The first few frames felt just as awkward as they always seem to. I don't know if every portrait photographer goes through this or not, but for me, the first half dozen frames or so, are just awkward. No rhythm, no rhyme... and usually no reason. So today I let it go. Popped the camera onto the tripod... stepped to the side and just started talking with Nancy. Instead of staring into the scary cyclopean eye of the camera, she could just see me. As we talked, the ideas started flowing.
We were able to joke, smile and laugh. I caught a glimpse of the sparkle in her eyes that speaks volumes of Nancy-ness. In the coma, that sparkle is how I knew who she was. The quick smile, the laugh in her eyes, and her hair... no matter the color, it always carried the smell of lavender and sunshine.