Live Virtual Group Session: 2pm EDT May 9th 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Our text was an excerpt from “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death” by Jean-Dominique Bauby, posted below. We read the excerpt once and discussed how the author and father demonstrated care for each other through their actions, without the need for words. We saw the mirror surrounded by photos of loved ones as another sign of affection between father and son. One participant pointed out that the second paragraph describing the father’s “lifetime’s [of] clutter” reminded her of what she and others are living through now, “My life is around me in my house.” 

Our prompt was: Write about a room of care. Two participants shared their writing inspiring a rich array of responses from the listeners. Responders noted that the shared  pieces were written in the shadow of the Diving Bell text. The first sharer’s detailed description of a richly appointed room of care and comfort invited listeners to shelter in a space of vulnerability. The second share moved with spare, short sentences, limited imagery, and rigorous honesty offering listeners permission to experience with the writer the giving and receiving of love and care along with a need for relief.

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Please join us for our next session: Monday, May 11th at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, excerpt by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Hunched in the red-upholstered armchair where he sifts through the day’s newspapers, my dad bravely endures the rasp of the razor attacking his loose skin. I wrap a big towel around his shriveled neck, daub thick lather over his face, and do my best not to irritate his skin, dotted here and there with small dilated capillaries. From age and fatigue, his eyes have sunk deep into their sockets, and his nose looks too prominent for his emaciated features. But, still flaunting the plume of hair — now snow white — that has always crowned his tall frame, he has lost none of his splendor
 
All around us, a lifetime’s clutter has accumulated; his room calls to mind one of those old persons’ attics whose secrets only they can know — a confusion of old magazines, records no longer played, miscellaneous objects. Photos from all the ages of man have been stuck into the frame of a large mirror. There is dad, wearing a sailor suit and playing with a hoop before the Great War; my eight-year-old daughter in riding gear; and a black-and-white photo of myself on a miniature-golf course. I was eleven, my ears protruded, and I looked like a somewhat simpleminded schoolboy. Mortifying to realize that at that age I was already a confirmed dunce.
 
I complete my barber’s duties by splashing my father with his favorite aftershave lotion. Then we say goodbye; this time, for once, he neglects to mention the letter in his writing desk where his last wishes are set out.
 
 
from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death, by Jean-Dominique Bauby (Vintage: 1998)

14 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 2pm EDT May 9th 2020

  1. Kana (Kanako Kitamoto)

    A Room for Care
    It was a place for a tiny butterfuly to come and rest.
    It was a large green leaf, wet with moning dew.
    She, with her blue and purple wings closed, would drink the glinting water slowly and carefully,
    and then would start to sleep for a little while in the soft, green bed.
    What a calm and peaceful moment she had there, dreaming a pretty and tiny dream inside her.
    Soon she would wake up and leave for the outside world.
    It was always a place for her.

    Like

    • Dr Yewande Okuleye

      I really like the image of care you paint her. It is delicate, full of purpose and rejuvenating. “and then would start to sleep for a little while in the soft, green bed”, is very suggestive. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

      • Kana (Kanako Kitamoto)

        Thank you very much, Dr Yuwande! I deeply appreciate your words. Especially I love the word, rejuvenating. Very beautiful! It would be perfect for my image of moning dew.

        Like

  2. One evening Care and Cure sat opposite each other bickering over who is more important in an individual’s life. At one point, Cure very enthusiastically exclaimed that she is the most desired one since everyone wants a remedy for something or the other. For once, Care didn’t respond verbally but simpled smiled and thought to herself that in every room of care, there is Cure toiling hard.

    Like

    • Kana (Kanako Kitamoto)

      Wow, what a wonderful and unique idea that Care and Cure sitting on the opposite side of each other! It made me imagibe Care working as “a barber” for Cure. You know, Cure in the mirror is sitting on the opposite side of Care. I love the ending, too.

      Like

    • Dr Yewande Okuleye

      Care and cure in the care room. This is such a witty and insightful piece. The gender role for care and cure is unexpected, as one might have expected cure to be masculine. The language of disease and pathways to cure are steeped in military metaphor. “Magic bullet”,” war on cancer” and the “front line, “come to mind. I guess cure has always taken the spotlight. We read the headline about the progress of science with discoveries and cures. Care never gets the headline. It is not newsworthy. I have never thought about the healthcare in these terms. Thanks for sharing. It is very pertinent as we observe the unfolding of the Covid – 19 pandemic. The spotlight is on care and carers, now because there is no cure. Once we get a cure, care will be relegated to the shadows

      Like

      • I enjoyed the play of Care & Cure, Swati. It is my sincere wish – active desire – that Care isn’t forgotten once Cure is found, Yewande. We need both & they work together best in each others’ company. Kana – Care as the “barber” – yes! Soothing, smoothing, polishing, envisioning.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Diane

    A Room of Care
    I brought my mother, now 94 with advanced dementia, to live in my home __ months ago. I turned my office into her bedroom space and moved my desk into my bedroom.This was three months before her ninety-third birthday. I never anticipated she’d live this long and here we still are, isolated in this time of Covid-19. I’m relieved she is here and not in danger of the disease. But I also want my office space back. I miss being surrounded by my books and small objects.

    Like

    • Dr Yewande Okuleye

      Thank you for sharing your writing Diane. I enjoyed the reading also. Your room of care felt very intimate. You reminded me that to care is a verb. You writing, beautifully illustrates your act of caring, Even your hint of realism, emphasises how caring has some degree of sacrifice, which incidentally is also a verb. I like how you invite the reader to bear witness to this act of caring, warts and all.
      Wishing you both good health.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The oil was warm, medicinal, healing. She approached gently, stilling the moment first, settling the energy with silent touch. Then massaging his head, his shoulders, his back; feeling him soothe and relax with the gentleness of touch. The oil does its magic. He loved this ritual. She so enjoyed doing it. It brings their relationship into the focus of now, in this one warm room of the Ayurvedic oil massage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Yewande Okuleye

      I loved this intimate restorative space. The gentleness of this relationship is traced through the knowing communication between the masseur and recipient. Although this seems like a very private ritual, I feel you are generous in sharing such an intimate, powerful moment. You allow the reader to imagine that we could step into an aromatic cave, inhale the magic molecules, and step back into the world refreshed and whole. Thanks for sharing.Lovely poem Zee.

      Like

  5. Patricia D.

    I disrobe completely, not caring how my clothes land on the divan. Lights low, windows covered, music invites me to relax. Knock-knock. The massage therapist politely enters, assured that I am safely beneath warm covers. She is atheletic and kind as she kneads my stiff shoulders and tugs my legs to relieve chronic pain. My request for silence is respected. We breathe in unison. Soft, slow ins and outs. Peace reigns between us as we feel the connection that binds us in this hour of caring service.

    Swati – care and curing sit opposite each other – love it! see our website: http://www.mcgill.ca/wholepersoncare – this is our raison-d’etre!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Yewande Okuleye

      Thanks for sharing Patricia. You reminded me how recollecting and retelling a relaxing encounter is both good for the storyteller and the listener. I feel my oxytocin level slightly raised (if one could measure this, of course), as I follow this encounter. I particularly like
      “Peace reigns between us as we feel the connection that binds us in this hour of caring service.” Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we could feel this connection without the physical touch. We forget how we can touch people with our word, our thoughts, and our presence. Covid-19, is showing us ,we can do this if we are intentional . I just hope the theory that habits can be changes if practicedfor a month holds true and we experience a collective awareness that all of us can touch people in our community ( whicver way we define it) in positive ways.

      Like

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