expecto patronum

Thanks to The Hero Factory, where you make a superhero in your own (albeit way-skinnier) image, I’ve put a positive spin on my limp. In the last step, after you pick your hair and clothing, you choose a weapon. The guns were pretty impressive, and the nunchucks were exotic. But I couldn’t resist the big stick. When at last I was satisfied with the boots and the hair and the weapon, my superhero was revealed to me: The Fancy Walking Wizard. I’m lucky I don’t need her just now.

On the night I broke my tooth, I thought about alternatives to living.

For about two months, I was nothing like Fancy Walking Wizard. I was one of the Dementors from the Harry Potter books, sucking the soul out of every room I entered, swallowing sounds, suffocating life. Even my eyes were dark, echoic places, windows to a soulless body. As Ron Weasley so aptly described the feeling, it was as if I’d “never be cheerful again.”

I don’t believe in angels or heaven or even the garden variety capital-g god; to me, they are the stuff of novels, like Dementors; all illusion, like magic. But I have been intimate with the soul sucking dark forces. And I was rescued by the super-heroic humans who chose to battle them.

I ratted myself out, and it was like a TV cop calling for backup or white blood cells moving into action upon detection of a bodily threat. Suddenly my corner filled up: a retired therapist who knew it was serious this time; a too-busy psychiatrist who made room for me; an entire community of busy moms who made sure that my family was fed, three meals a week for nearly two months; girlfriends who sat with me, dragged me kicking and screaming to lunches, brought me gifts, and tried their damnedest to pep talk me out of the shit; virtual friends who refused to let my self-worth diminish; a personal trainer who hugged me when I cried about my lack of physical and emotional fitness; and my family, who endured and persevered and never let go of my hand, even though I was, so many days, drowning but not waving.

All of these people got into position around my dead-weight body, like girls at the slumber party, each with two fingers under me, and I couldn’t help but be levitated right out of that hole, even though I was so very heavy.

On my first day above it, even if slightly, I went to the gym to sign up for therapy. That night, my husband, my daughter, and I sat at the kitchen table eating dinner, and I cracked what might have been my first joke in three months. I don’t remember whether it was funny; my daughter’s expression eclipsed everything. She laughed. I don’t mean that. It wasn’t a laugh. It wasn’t a chuckle or a cackle. It was a—a patronus! It was a big gleaming mythical beast made out of electrical sparks. It was as if she’d been holding her breath for a lifetime and had just released it in the form of pure, undiluted, unadulterated, perfect, breathtaking, awesome gladness.

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9 Comments

  1. Aunt Teena March 6, 2009 at 11:27 pm #

    No matter what you are feeling, you still portray it so well with your words.

  2. blanche March 7, 2009 at 12:47 am #

    well i’m glad i slowed down a minute on my cruise through the internet before i close this damn laptop – to read this. thanks so much for sharing. laughter really is a treasure, isn’t it?

  3. Keri March 7, 2009 at 1:09 am #

    Damn woman. You sure do know how to turn a phrase.

    They are still doing that two finger levitation thing you know… But they aren’t doing the whole spooky story about how you ‘died’ first like we did when we were kids. That was the best part. I don’t even believe it can work without that whole build up. 😉

    “Light as a feather… stiff as a board…”

    I’m so very glad you are feeling better. And that there were so many there around you who were able to help you.

  4. jennifer March 7, 2009 at 12:45 pm #

    your description of serena’s smile coming across the table like the patronus it was made me cry big fat tears, just like i do every time i see that scene in HP, when harry realizes it wasn’t his father who conjured it but his own self.

    you amaze me.

    congratulations on finding your way out of the forbidden forest, bubbe.

    xoxo

  5. jo(e) March 8, 2009 at 12:38 am #

    That’s an amazing image.

    And really, it’s been an act of generosity that you’ve shared this struggle with us.

  6. Doctor Noe March 9, 2009 at 11:34 am #

    I too am glad I stopped by at this roadside stand. It was way more than a nosh. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Martin March 9, 2009 at 6:33 pm #

    I came here looking for cake.

    Have a laugh soon, Leslie.

  8. Wenda March 10, 2009 at 12:23 am #

    Wow! To have created this from that!

  9. cath c March 22, 2009 at 2:01 pm #

    wow, very soul-baring. thank you. i am coming out of a long in bed healing process, that wasn’t depression oriented, but it sure put a dpression damper on my family’s life. i still don’t physically feel back to myself, but the spirit is much shinier.

    your daughter’s laughter is a true testament to how we affect our kids in every aspect of who we are. thank goodness you had the supports you had to carry you out of the darkness.