Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"She Will Make the Face of Heaven So Fine..."



Nothing in the cry
of cicadas suggest they
are about to die.

--Matsuo Basho


Some deaths seem more tragic than others. Pointless in the ensuing loss of intelligence, kindness, talent, future of someone who should have had more time.

But the life we face does not play by those rules, and death comes as it will, often without warning. Natasha Richardson's death seems ridiculously cruel following a fairly undramatic bump to the head. I imagine we'll hear and read a bit more about whether a helmet could have prevented injury and it's a fair subject for discussion. However, the truth of life is that there are no guarantees. No day is promised to us. As much as I joke to my grrrls about wearing helmets and life jackets when they leave the house, there is no absolute protection from living.

John Travolta's son died from a traumatic brain injury after a fall in the bathroom related to a seizure. I cared for a gentleman who died from a head bleed after bumping his head on his couch, as well as a woman who fell from a chair she was standing on while taking the ornaments off her Christmas tree. How much protection and padding are we willing to bear?

When I worked in a Medical ICU I felt somewhat removed from the patients we cared for rationalizing that I didn't drink a case of beer/day or smoke cigarettes or ignore any escalating diabetes/hypertension/coronary artery disease. Certainly that could never be me in one of those hospital beds. It only took a couple of weeks in an ICU which treats trauma and head injuries to realize it hits every body. Any body with a brain. And, while I continue to fret whether my grrrls wear their seat belts each and every time they're in a car, I also understand that life is a crap shoot. You play the best you can and enjoy. The motto in Neurodramaville?? "Use it while you got it." Now go on, take that and run with it. Do me a favor and look both ways if you cross the street.



please note: title is reappropriated from Shakespeare, "When he shall die take him and cut him out in little stars and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night." Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene II

26 comments:

  1. This was tragic, and senseless. I'm sure she'll be deeply missed by her family.

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  2. my thoughts and prayers are with her family--look for the flower and smile

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  3. so sad. i feel for liam, their children, and the surrounding family. thank you for writing about this in a sensitive way.

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  4. Her death hit me hard. I loved her work and her face.
    I had a CT scan of my head that same morning because of a wallop to my head that I got by raising up fast from a squatting position into the corner of an open cabinet door. Haven't felt quite right since and asked my doctor what he thought. He ordered the CT scan for both our peace of mind. I am fine. Grateful. Feeling linked to this death in a strange sort of way....

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  5. Well said: Use it while you got it. It shall be my new mantra. Thank you.

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  6. I've had so many knocks to my head I can't remember them all! But as you say, life is such a delicate thing, hanging by an incredible balance. We really do, do something amazing every day just by surviving it!

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  7. I do recall the christmas tree lady and her family *sigh*. Amen to "use it while you've got it"!! Love life and jump at all the adventures you can!

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  8. I so agree with your assessment of trying to prevent accidents but also that we should all live our lives to the fullest each day.
    Thanks for your compassionate writing.

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  9. "Let flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

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  10. beautifully expressed, thank you x

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  11. I still cant belive it. She was so pretty and young. Just goes to show ya that life really is short so life it to the fullist RIP

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  12. My heart goes out to her family.
    Your words are so true. Life can be a crap shoot in so many ways.
    I, for one, will hug my girls and husband a little more tonight.

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  13. Young and talented, loving and lovely, it causes us all to stop and wonder "Why?" And so often the media is quick to jump on "If only... scenarios" which serve no good use except as barn doors for the departing horses. Perhaps the fall itself was an indicator of something going awry, not that the fall caused the injury... and perhaps there are no comforting answers to the family - any family - who has to say goodbye too early to a loved one.

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  14. To all of you-- so true, so true...
    Thanks for the comments--really do appreciate your reading and your thoughts--
    Hubby and I comment often that we don't know how we survived the 50's, 60's&70's. Can't tell you how many times I was knocked out from a bike fall, car accident, etc. Come to think of it those are probably the reasons I can't remember...but...we didn't have seat belts, we didn't have helmets, and we barely told our parents about any bumps and bruises. After some of the cases we see now, we thank our lucky stars and force ourselves not to bubble wrap the grrrls, but it's very hard not to.

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  15. Nicely written. I had never heard of her, but it is indeed so sad. As for remembering the sixties, I think I recall it being said that if you remember the sixties, you weren't there.
    (OMG my word verification is "tragi"

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  16. What I have stuck in my head is Liam Neeson playing the role of a grieving husband who lost his young wife and was left to raise their son alone. The movie was Love Actually. And now he has to live the pain he imagined and projected in that film. And her poor boys, young teens, such a fragile age.

    It's wrenching.

    I had my two children read the articles and watch the interviews on brain injuries to remind them what's at stake.

    Right after we moved to Belgium, my son took a hard fall down wooden steps, his head crashing into the stairwell. I was new there, didn't speak the language, didn't have a doctor, didn't know who to call for advice and it was Easter weekend. Everything was shut down. My son didn't lose consciousness but I was so concerned. I e-mailed a doctor friend in America, who advised me what to look for. I sat next to my son's bed ALL night, waking him up occasionally, asking him questions, checking his pupils... Thank God he was OK. The bruises didn't appear until a day or so later, and then I could see all the places on the side of his head that made impact with the steps/wall.

    I have told my son (who is 13 now) that perhaps the worst thing wasn't to die from a brain injury, but to survive one and be seriously mentally and/or physically impaired.

    I also know women married to men who have recovered pretty well from brain injuries and while they are grateful to still have their husbands, they will also tell you the ongoing challenges they face, both large and small and the ways they both kept and lost their loved one.

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  17. Beautifully written, thank you.

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  18. This is, indeed, a lovely tribute.
    Count Sneaky

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  19. Very sad. We never know when it might be our time to leave. Your words are beatiful...

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  20. Your perspective from "neurodramaville" is so valuable. Thank you.

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  21. This reminds me very clearly of a line in the excellent Australian movie "Breaker Morant" to the effect of : "You should live each day as though it were your last, because one day you are bound to be right." Thank you for your beautiful writing on Tidings of Magpies. . .

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  22. I'm still processing this tragedy, but your post helped me cut short what could have been a long time in denial. A bad long time. I thank you from the bottom of my cerebellum.

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  23. This was beautiful and thoughtful. Thank you. Like the Shakespeare, especially; it's perfect.

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  24. The only certainty is uncertainty. Amen. That said, there is the possibility of a change in the ambulance system in Quebec--some people have raised the possibility of her being saved if an air ambulance had been available instead of their having to drive her to the nearest jumping-off point.

    If so, if a change is made, her death will have what so many deaths do not: meaning, a positive change somewhere. It's a bit ghoulish; it's cold comfort. It may not even be true. But we are creatures of the absurdity called hope.

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  25. Thanks for this beautiful tribute and for those find words about the tenuous nature of our lives on this here earth. I loved Natasha Richardson, as I love Liam Neeson and Vanessa Redgrave. This is very sad, indeed.

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  26. I onced cared for a lady who had undergone heart surgery (aortic valve prothesis). She happened to slightly bruise her gum while picking her teeth. That led to sepsis and destruction of her aortic valve... Life is vulnerable... (She survived, though :) )

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Hey, thanks for your thoughts and your time:>)