Monday, December 27, 2004

Forgive the indulgence: It's late.

It was about half a lifetime ago when I last looked to Bono from U2 to come anywhere near expressing in song what I was too emotionally stunted to say on my own, but he seems to have tapped directly into the vertiginous hole in my gut with the appropriately titled tune "Vertigo" that is heating up the airwaves right now. Not since "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" seemed to encapsulate what my high school self thought was an acute case of existential angst (but what turned out to be boring old adolescence) has the self-important Irish rocker so accurately summed up a feeling for me. This time, obviously, it has to do with what Will has meant to me these past two months. He has put up a hell of a fight against more obstacles than any person -- two-pounder or otherwise -- deserves to face in a lifetime. The experience, as I have shared here, has been described as being like riding a rollercoaster in the dark backwards, and that's as apt a description as any. The overwhelming joy at the tiniest thing -- Mary and I practically crying with excitement the first time he filled a diaper with pee after having had kidney troubles -- and the crushing sorrow that meets each successive challenge, have had the effect of ripping our nerves out from under the skin to sit raw on the surface for everyone to see. So, how did Bono, of all people, neatly sum up such a wild emotional swing?

Hello, hello,
I'm in a place called vertigo.
It's everything I wish I didn't know
except you give me something I can feel.

Pretty simple, eh? It's a love song with little import beyond the obvious, but for this listener, who heard it repeatedly on a particularly tough day for Will recently, it succinctly stated what Will has meant to me. I wouldn't wish the feeling of a 3 a.m. phone call from the hospital saying "we're having trouble with your son; you need to get down here" on anyone, but at the same time, strange though it may be to say, the entire experience of parenting Will for the past two months, that call included, has helped me to feel emotions I didn't know were possible. I know, I know, that's what being a parent is, and I'm sure every parent feels like this at one time or another. But it's new to me, and that's all that matters. Will has brought me the highest highs and the lowest lows, and all of it is part of being his Dad, part of opening myself up to joy like I've never known and heartbreak like I never knew I could stand.

This has been rattling around for the past couple of days, and maybe the fact that it came pouring out now can be chalked up to the fact that I've been up for the past 20 hours and 35 of the past 38. Thank God it was something as palatable as U2 that spoke to me (you wouldn't be reading this if Ashlee Simpson had tugged at my heartstrings), and that it happened on the first song in years where Bono actually seemed to care about what he was singing (has he delivered a word like "fee-eee-eel" so convincingly since "Pride"? Couldn't prove it by me.)

Now for what you really came to see: It's 11:30 p.m. on Monday, and Will is doing great. He's back down to needing 50 percent oxygen -- they've been slowly weaning him down from 100 percent since 4 p.m. -- his blood pressures are good, his ventilator settings are low and he is sleeping quietly. I know that anything can happen, and I'd be lying if I said I'm ready no matter what. But good or bad, it's all part of being with Will, and I wouldn't trade that for anything.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, sublimely put. I'm continuing to pray for you, and now I'll be singing along, as well.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I already loved that song...and now I'm going to grin every time I hear it (plus, it'll be another reminder to send good thoughts toward Iowa!). Watching Will's progress through this blog has been incredibly interesting and gratifying -- I find myself checking it several times a day to make sure Will's OK and that all three of you are doing well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for keeping everyone informed. I know this was posted primarily for family and close friends, but know that your words are stretching out well beyond the inner circle. Here's wishing all of you a very Happy and Healthy New Year, with continued good progress for Will, some much-needed sleep for you guys, and plenty more rotations of Vertigo on the radio! After all, every life needs a soundtrack...and if the mix CD that is Will starts with that song, that's not a bad thing at all. Next thing you know, he'll be ready for his World Tour. :-)

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does this mean that Will wants a U2 Ipod for Christmas?

I'm glad he's doing better. I had a sneaking suspicion that he was acting up the way all kids do the day after Christmas.

-Claire Zulkey

10:48 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home