Thursday, November 27, 2008

thanksgiving day

Today was a hard day, I won't lie. It was so nice to be with Steve's big family and watch them play with Daniel and Ben, and my appetite is back enough that I could eat some of the food on my plate. But just going anywhere, being up for that amount of time, is physically and emotionally draining. There are moments when the world starts to spin around me and I can barely pay attention to what's going on around me.

But I did laugh today: I didn't recognize my beautiful, teen-age niece because she'd changed her hair and just ... well, looked so different. So I was sitting across the table from her, making a feather hat out of construction paper, and I figured she was the family friend my sister-in-law Sue had mentioned might be coming. I said, "Hi, I'm Emilie. I think we've met before." She just smiled, bless her heart. What do you say when a brain-addled aunt introduces herself to you like you haven't seen each other at every family gathering and had dozens of conversations? Later, when I realized who she was, I was so embarrassed that all I could do was laugh. It felt good. I haven't laughed like that in quite a while.

But then I go back to a place that feels dark and lonely. I have been having trouble shaking it since my hospital stay. I wonder if there's such a thing as post-traumatic stress disorder for hospitals: I have flashbacks of the lack of privacy, the nurses who wake me up to check my vital signs, the people from the lab who come to draw blood like vampires first thing in the morning, the long gurney rides through the cold hospital corridors on my way to have a needle stuck into my lung or my chest, the loss of control over everything. It keeps me awake at night, and my dreams are fraught with IV lines and the vampires from the Twilight series. It was horrible, and I wish I could reassure myself that I won't ever have to go back, but the fact is, I might have to go back. That is the nature of this illness. And it seems to be on a downhill slide, at least for now. And that petrifies me.

And we get home, and I find a piece of mail I didn't see yesterday, and I open it, and it is a card and a prayer from a priest friend. It has exactly the right words, words that give me hope that maybe I can pull myself out of this place.

I escape tonight, partly, by watching Daniel become enchanted by The Sound of Music. From the opening shots of the majestic, snow-covered Alps — "I could climb up those!" — to the poignant strains of Edelweiss sung on the stage the night the Von Trapp family flees Austria, he loves it. (Meanwhile, I am a teary-eyed wreck. Oh, the nostalgia!) He just doesn't like it if there's too long a break in the music. "I want more songs," he says during plot-building bits of dialogue. And good thing for him, The Sound of Music has plenty of songs! I'd love to find some more old movies he might appreciate, even at the tender age of 2. We already have Mary Poppins. Any more ideas?


Megan Thomas said...

Hi Emilie,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Regarding musicals, Gordon gave me a Rodgers and Hammerstein set of 6 classic musicals a couple of years ago (SOM, South Pacific, Oklahoma, Carousel, The King & I, and State Fair). There are a few scenes that may be a bit much for Daniel, but you can skip through them.

Also, there are several versions of "Annie" available -- and every young child I know has gone through a phase of prolonged Annie watching! We have the one with Kathy Bates as Miss Hannigan, which I like a lot. Rob Marshall, who directed "Chicago", did it, I think. And, since it's the holidays, "Holiday Inn" has a lot of great song and dance numbers in it...

All bring such great memories. "Sound of Music" is still our favorite, though.


Julie said...

My kids love the Music Man, the King and I (although a little scary when they do the Uncle Tom's Cabin play), and especially Seven Brides for Seven Brothers--that's my five-year-old's favorite. We used to watch it at least a couple times a week. Sigh.

Glad you had enough of an appetite to eat something. Happy Thanksgiving!

Agape said...

and don't forget "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and "Fiddler on the Roof".

My 3 year old loves Annie and Mary Poppins right now. I need to get the one with Kathy Bates- Carol Burnett is awful in that role.. Thank you for the other suggestions in the above comments.

I hope you are sleeping well this evening. Happy Thanksgiving, Emilie.

Queenie. . . said...

The old Gene Wilder version of Charlie and the Chocolate factory? White Christmas, perhaps? Chitty-chitty Bang-bang? Singing in the Rain?

Give yourself something new to dream about. . .watch or read only happy stuff right before bed. Drag out your childhood favorites and give those a go.

otrey3 said...

Hey, Emilie, I'm glad you could enjoy the family time. The flashbacks sound tough-- I know a mom whose little girl had a prolonged stay, and she did have some post-traumatic stress from the visit. You could talk to a doctor about it. Perhaps they have a medication you could take for a couple weeks that can help your recovery and help you rebalance a bit.

I'm excited to show Harry "Singin' in the Rain", as well as "Mary Poppins." "Meet Me in St. Louis" and "Anything Goes" could be fun, too! I don't think they have too many deep scenes, but it's been some time since I've seen them. Then there's "A Charlie Brown Christmas", too!

--Laura S.

Emily said...

My kids love musicals as well. One I would highly recommend is Singing in the Rain. You will probably need to skip through some of the dialogue because it is quite long.

My two youngest boys LOVE a couple of the songs in particular: "Make them Laugh" is their very favorite. When each of them was even younger than Daniel, they would jump around, sing , and dance to that song again and again and again. It is quite funny. They still enjoy watching it today (and still dance to the songs).

If you can zip through to each of the songs, I bet Daniel would really enjoy it.

scrapella said...

Regarding movies, I remember when Calvin and Camilla were younger, like around Daniel's age, I was surprised that they really enjoyed that classic old musical, "Singing in the Rain." My mother also told me to have them watch some of the Shirley Temple musicals, but I haven't gotten around to doing that yet.
-- Molly Millett

Roxane B. Salonen said...

I love renting old movies and musicals for my kids. They are so innocent. My older kids give me a hard time regarding the "cheesiness" factor, but I can tell that they like them even so. A lot of my favs have been covered, but a few more: Bedknobs and Broomsticks, the Benji movies, Return to Witch Mountain, Freaky Friday and Parent Trap are a few more hits around here. Of the latter, my kids have enjoyed watching both the old and new versions to see the differences.

Lynn said...

I noticed that several people have already mentioned these but I thought I would second (or third or fourth...) the recommendations for The Music Man and Singing in the Rain, particularly Singing in the Rain. My sister (Emily) already posted a comment and recommended it but I too have seen my nephews go crazy dancing to the "Make Them Laugh" song. It is terrific!

Heather said...

Hi Emilie -
This is the perfect opportunity for me to come out and tell you how much I enjoy your blog. You are included in our daily "God Bless" list at our house. I am a former St. Paul girl, now living in Kansas and came across your blog through a friend-of-a-friend.

I am also a singer and musical theatre enthusiast. See if you can find the video of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It's with Donny Osmond, I think. I can't remember when it came out - back when the show was first popular. I have to say, that I don't think it's a great movie, but the music is so catchy and kids love it. Plus, it's ALL sung!
Wishing you healthy and peace of mind, Emilie.
Enjoy and God bless,

Heather said...

Regarding the Joseph...Dreamcoat DVD: has it for $14.99. I wonder if he might like watching the DVD of Cats as well. I know a lot of people don't care for that show, but I know kids who love to watch the DVD.

Alex and Jill said...

My favorite musicals as a child were Family Band, Happiest Millionaire & Follow Me Boys(the last one doesn't have as many songs as the others but is a great movie for little boys) They were made by Disney back in the day before they started making nonsense like Hannah Montana. :) All can be found on Amazon.

Michele (Moosh) said...

(Disclaimer: I haven't read any responses so my apologies for any duplicates)

Oh, the Sound of Music and Mary Poppins==my daughter's 2 favorite movies!!! She also likes The Music Man, Singing in the Rain, the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (though a bit scary in parts for most kids) and Pete's Dragon. Then there's Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, though she's just now getting into those at nearly 4. And I know she'll love Mamma Mia as both my kids are ABBA fans. LOL

I got so caught up in movie talk that I forgot what else I was going to say. Be right back.

Michele (Moosh) said...

Well, I still can't remember what I was going to say. Oy.

Anyhow, I'm glad you had a nice Thanksgiving--don't sweat the "neice thing"--I've done that before and have no excuse (except maybe being a natural blond?!)--these things happen. Glad you got a good laugh out of it.

The hospital sounds like a nightmare. I am so sorry, Emilie.

OH! I just remembered what I was going to say!!!! What is so ironic about your post--this morning the Von Trapp grandchildren (the real kids of the real Von Trapp clan) sang at the Portland Macy's Parade. They sounded like 4 kids with the same voice--what a blend. I grew up in Vermont taking field trips to the Stowe Von Trapp family lodge--so I've always had this love affair with the V-T family.

For some reason, the Von Trapp grandkids singing "The Hills are Alive" this morning made me think of you and burst into tears. I had no idea why that song, that performance, made me think of you--and I said that very statement to my perplexed husband. Maybe now I know the reason.

Hugs, Em.

Almamay said...

Sending you love and a (((hug))) x

Amy M said...

Hi Emilie - It's not surprising to hear that you are having flashbacks. Your hospital stay was not pleasant and now that you are home, it gives you more time to think about the experience and what really happened. I'm not dealing with your exact situation but I also had similar feelings of flashbacks after I had our Benjamin. Talking about it or journaling like you did often helps.

I'm glad you received the note from your priest friend. It's always nice to receive notes from someone that "hit the spot" with what you are feeling and lift you up.

On another note, thanks for mentioning the musicals. I think I'll put one or two on our shopping list when we are home for Christmas.

I continue to think and pray for you each day. You've had a tough few weeks and I pray that December will be better for you. We are all so thankful that you are home with your family.


Christina said...

Thanks for such an honest, moving post.

I can just imagine Daniel being enthralled by the Sound of Music while it sparks some teary nostalgia in you.

Personally, I've always had a weakness for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and there's some fun, colorful choreography to go with the songs.

Also, for a seasonal pick, you might consider By The Light Of The Silvery Moon with Doris Day. Daniel would have to tolerate a good deal of plot building, but there are a few fun Christmas scenes with ice skating, a sleigh ride and a costume surprise.


Soupy said...

just sending out hugs like crazy. what an emotional holiday and coupe weeks that has been for you. I cannot believe how big Ben is getting - he is so handsome- what an angel boy. Both your boys are.
I immediately thought of ANNIE when I read this for suggestions.
Sound of music and Annie were my 2 faves as a child.
How about The Lion King Soundtrack - the movie might be too much? Or the Tarzan soundtrack is wonderful! one on MY faves.

Jessica Griffith said...


I second the votes for Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Annie and Singing in the Rain. Also, a lot of the Disney cartoon movies have music--Cinderella might be a good one.

Don't feel bad about the niece thing. A few years ago, my mom didn't recognize her own nephew at a family gathering even though she had seen him 2 months earlier. Also, another relative saw me talking to a male cousin once and asked him if I was his new girlfriend. This is someone who'd known me my whole life!

I had a medical event that was nowhere near as traumatic or challenging as what you went through, and I had flashbacks for months. Perhaps your doctor has some idea of how to help.

Big hugs from north of Carbone's.


Victoria said...

Yes people have flashbacks and PTSD from hospitalizations.

I'd add Seven Brides for Seven Brothers to the musical list and second The King and I.

Peace and healing to you again, and also again, thank you for opening your journey.

bz said...

Hi Emilie.....Just catching up with you, thanks to a reminder from Anne Rodenberg.

Why am I not surprised at your tearing-up over The Sound of Music!

Ever seen "The F.O.L. Gene," the "defiant cancer cartoons" of the late Miriam Engelberg? NCR just did a feature on her work. I thought of you when I read the line, "Miriam's cartoons are not for the doctrinally faint of heart."

Peace and all good things...Bob Z

Leigh said...

My kids loved Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It's along the lines of Mary Poppins, I think. If I can find our copy I'll send it to you.

Glad you are home!

Stephanie said...

My first time visiting, and had to chime in here. It's already been said, but definitely worth mentionining again: "Singin' in the Rain" and "Music Man" are great for kids. Particularly "Singin" because it's not so long (like Sound of Music and others) and it's quite funny.

Seasonally speaking, "White Christmas" also has some good songs in it, but it's on the longish side and has quite a bit of dialogue too.