There’s a great quote attributed to the actor Laurence Olivier:
There is a spirit in us – that makes our brass to blare and our cymbals crash – all, of course, supported by the practicalities of trained lung power, throat, heart, guts.
There can be no doubt that Jordan possesses all four of Olivier’s practicalities. And she has no shortage of spirit. Be it cross, determined, ornery, charming or doleful, she generously shares her pains and pleasures with those in her presence. She is not easily subdued. The tumors try, but the odds are against them.
That spirit was on display today. When I arrived, the first words out of her mouth were “I want to go home.” It was not like yesterday. Yesterday, I had to scramble the sounds coming out of her mouth. I had to interpret noises and piece them together into the phrase. Today, there was no mistaking it. I tried to reason with her, but she interrupted me, grabbed my sleeve and said shortly, “come on. Let’s go.” It was followed by a good twenty minutes of arguing. She just kept saying, “I want to go home.” We just kept saying, “you will … but not today.”
She’s making progress. With assistance, she can now walk to the bathroom. She can sit up for short periods of time. She even made a trip to the play room. But she runs out of gas fast, and I think when she does she faces the reality that she’s not well enough to sleep in her own bed. That depresses her – just for a short while. Then she brandishes the “damn the torpedoes” mentality and we have our hands full.
Despite her improved surface appearance, she isn’t out of the woods yet. The diagnosis lacks definition. Even the doctors have to admit that we are in uncharted waters. We don’t know what’s causing her symptoms. We don’t know how likely she is to relapse. And we don’t know how much of the residual effects are permanent or temporary? She will have another test tomorrow. And unfortunately, she is likely to remain in the hospital for awhile.
Before I left for the night, she had dosed off after puttering around the room for a bit. Just as I was preparing to leave, she opened her eyes and peered over at me. These were not the eyes of an eight year old. They held a premature maturity; a knowingness that was at once captivating and unsettling. I tried to break the spell by whispering over to her. But she didn’t fall for it. She looked at me with such an intensity for half a second I wondered if she was having an absent seizure – when she fades away for a moment but locks her eyes in place. But no sooner did I think this than she remarked, “take me with you.” It was her one moment of fragility in an otherwise stoic day. I explained it wasn’t possible and as quickly as she shed her armor it was back on again. She dimissed me … allowed me to kiss her a few times on the forehead … but sent me on my way without much notice.
If anyone is suited to the rigors of a rare disease, surely it is she. Hope is the strategy we must follow. We’ve been told to put our faith in science, God and miracles. I’ve put my faith in the girl. Hope flows through her diatribes and defiance. Hope is the muddy Irish pumping through her veins and the dominant woman forced to emerge in the pretty girl. I have faith in her.