Back in April 2007, Entertainment Weekly reporter Jeff Jensen wrote a brief, but very personal, account of his wife's struggle with brain cancer in his morning-after wrap-up of a Lost episode. He described how the subject matter in the show hit close to home in an almost eerie fashion.
I've been a rabid fan of Lost from the beginning. However, it latched onto me in a much deeper, far more profound way as the character of Desmond Hume was introduced and developed. This truly began to took hold following the season 2 finale, which focused on Desmond and took the show in a utterly different direction.
Desmond was first introduced at the beginning of season 2 in an audacious turn of events which occurred once the survivors went down the hatch. At first, he seemed a risky addition with no apparent connection to the rest of the show. However, by the end of the season, it was obvious that Desmond was not an afterthought, but part of a grand design, possibly a central part of a grand design. And despite all the supernatural window-dressing, the show was revealed to be an epic love story, between Desmond and Penelope.
The love story of Desmond and Penelope has some incredible elements. It spans time, time-travel, absence, and an amazing, courageous, and staggering sacrifice. Last night's episode "The Constant" was the climax of the story and possibly the technical climax of Lost. After years apart, the two lovers were reunited (briefly), across a great distance and time. The episode was a testament to enduring love, told utilizing an unconventional tool, as Desmond was striken with a time-travelling consciousness. It was emotional for me in many ways. And it made the type of strange connection to real life that was similar to Jeff Jensen's.
One primary reason that I have titled this blog, rather arcanely, the "Bod Brain Blog," is the very immediate way in which unconventional wiring in the brain has had a profound impact of my life and the life of my family. To this point, I've made indirect allusions to my son's Asperger's syndrome and no mention of the epilepsy from which my wife suffers. These conditions are the genius of the blog's title and while I sprinkle many ideas into the blog, I hope to make our experience with these conditions its core.
Epilepsy is an odd, disturbing, disruptive, disorder with a rich and romantic history of plaguing geniuses and mystics. From my own personal experience, I can attest that I see how easily both petit mal and grand mal seizures could be mistaken for possession by spirits and visions. Despite the fact that I been with my wife on countless occasions during her seizures, it is extremely difficult to become accustomed to the surreal feeling which overcomes me each times her seizures cycles begin and continue over a few days. This is further reinforced by the fact that her seizures occur at the onset of sleep and I am often somewhere between waking and consciousness myself.
Her deeper petit mal seizures are perhaps the most unsettling, when she becomes gripped by paranoia, occasionally has visions of a hallway or mentions a "they" lingering around the doorway, or becomes totally unhinged from all sense. At these times, it is as if the sound quality in the room changes. Sometimes, my ears ring slightly.
It is at these times when I feel that she is absent, that she is physically there, but her soul, her spirit has been abducted and replaced. I feel like there is something else in the room, a presence and she is the medium for this otherworldly spirit. Despite the other presence, it is very lonely and I almost feel disconnected from myself. Often, she will sleep a deep slumber for hours following these seizures with very little communication. I am often with her, around her, beside her, but I miss her dearly.
When she finally emerges from this stupor, it is as if she has returned from a long journey, to an exotic place of which she has no memory. She is a traveler, but her travels take their toll. When your existing beyond yourself, it becomes difficult to hold on to who you are sometimes and easy to feel lost and disorientated even in the clear times in between.
Which brings me to last night: soon after we started watching Lost, my wife started falling in and out of sleep. A loud noise from the show startled her and she awoke and then started a petit mal seizure which quickly cascaded into a grand mal. I was able to give her some emergency medicine to help arrest the seizures. She then feel into a deep sleep.
I was alone. It is difficult for me to go right back to sleep at these times. So, I sought solace in Lost. During the episode, Desmond became "unstuck in time," his consciousness pulled back and forth between two different times. He went in and out of consciousness. Due to the stress on his brain, if he persisted in this state, he found out that he would die. The physicist Daniel Faraday explained to him that his only hope was to find someone in both the past and future to anchor him, a "constant."
Desmond had a constant, Penelope, but in previous episodes he had to broken off their engagement and ruined their relationship. He painfully left her in order to fulfill his destiny on the island. However, he had no way to explain to her his reasons for leaving at the time. Now, he had to turn to her and hope that their love would transcend the situation and rescue him in the future. The final scenes were powerful, well-acted, well-paced and authentic. The moment of rescue and reconciliation was a joy.
While I watched and my wife slept beside me, Desmond's spells reminded me very much of her seizures. She becomes "unstuck in time." I am her constant, her anchor, something to cling to during the confusion and fear. But, when she goes, I also am lost. When she returns, she pulls me back. She is my constant.
Even as I write, she is resting, waking briefly to eat or drink, or to have another seizure. I can't wait until she returns.