My writer friend's mother was diagnosed with cancer and she says the following about processing: You asked me how I'm dealing with it and I have to be honest--I have no idea. I swing from feeling hopeful to feeling hopeless, sometimes within seconds of each other. I'm being realistic about the possibilities, but I don't think you can ever truly grasp it all--you feel like you have a good hold on it, gripped tight in your hand, and then it just slips away. Does that make any sense?
Yes. This makes sense to me. Putting feelings into words and documenting them is a struggle. Settling my mind to write feels like the energy it would take to run a marathon. Where do I start? When do I end? What is it that I even have to say? I hate words somewhat. Words were used to say cortical dysplasia and seizures and MRI and spontaneous mutation. Awful words. Negative words that feel the same as if the doctor looked me in the eyes and said: I hate you. Why would she tell me this? Where is the: I love you? Where is the clear test results and going to be fine? Who is this doctor sitting in front of me? She’s Chinese so she is probably making a mistake, she doesn’t understand, this isn’t her culture, her language, or her country. She’s wrong. Go back to your country. You’ve made an error in judgment. You’ve misread the MRI. Maybe that’s not my son’s results. Your radiation specialist saved it wrong and that’s not even his brain I’m looking at, smashed into this back office at the hospital, behind the nurses’ station, where I’m only invited because they all know that we are receiving bad news. Yes. Now I understand why I’m allowed to sit back here in the usually restricted quarters and look at these pictures of my son’s brain. These scans that don’t show what a beautiful person he is; that disregard the healthy boy and my healthy pregnancy. These scans that show nothing about how he smiles at me in the morning when I greet him and nurse him and whisper into his ears “good morning, baby” and “I love you.” These aren’t the scans that belong to MY son. How do I say this in Chinese? Is it Mandarin? Would you communicate with me if I spoke your language? I don’t know Chinese. Not even a word. Not even Yes. No. I don’t understand.
I don’t understand is what language teachers and texts always teach first. Yo no say. Je ne sais pas. I don’t know. I don’t understand. You must translate. You’re clearly not speaking ENGLISH. Not MY language. You are a foreigner speaking in tongues but we have been mistakenly thrown together at the wrong time, in the wrong place. This isn’t meant to happen. We’ve come to the wrong hospital and been given wrong information. Yes. That is what happened. We were given mistaken information translated from English to Chinese and back to English so it’s all gotten lost in translation. Yes. This I know for sure.