Saturday, May 24, 2008

Windfalls - Ellen

2. Melody ~ Melody burned herself on "the red spiral of the element" (pp. 133-134), just as Cerise had burned herself "against the hot edge of the iron" (pp. 21-22), leaving "stripes on Cerise's wrists [that]turned to scabs" (p. 30). Why do people do things like this? A young woman told me once that cutting herself was less painful than her life, but I don't understand that thinking at all.

I don't understand this thinking either, but I do know that some people do seem to sabotage their lives so that bad things happen to them. I wonder if this is just bypassing the waiting for pain. Maybe the physical pain is something they feel they can control. And if they can control the physical pain, then they know they can endure even more emotional pain? Not worrying about scarring may indicate they don't think they have much a future anyway...

3. NICU ~ When Ellen was born (pp. 137-146), she was rushed to NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Have you ever been in an NICU? Tell us about it.

I have worked in a hospital and made rounds through a NICU (checking drug carts). It was amazing that the tiny creatures were human sometimes...and that they would ever be normal, their lives seemed so strange and extreme. I think I felt less emotion over seeing those poor babies than I did an older baby or child that was very sick. Maybe it will sound callous, but I think it is because I know that those babies had a chance, had been on course for normal lives. It was something extreme that was bringing them down rather than an extreme measure to ever have them live.

4. Respirator ~ One of my granddaughters (not the one I mentioned last week) was in the NICU for the first days of her life and then was on a respirator, like Ellen. If you have experienced anything like this, please share.

After my dad's open heart surgery he had to spend the night on a respirator. We were allowed to visit him for about two minutes post op before we were sent away for the night. He'd only been out of surgery and recovered for a short time. It was hard to go into the room and see him so pale and barely alive, his chest rising and falling with the pump and hiss of the machine. He wasn't groggy though. When he looked at me I saw desperation in his eyes. I knew that being on a respirator can be torture. You feel like you are smothering, even though just the opposite is true. He grabbed for my hand. I knew that he was begging me to make someone take that respirator out.

5. Cerise ~ After the fire in the trailer (pp. 157-160), Travis suffered "respiratory insufficiency" (p. 164) before he died (p. 171). That's hell in itself for a mother, but can you put yourself in Cerise's shoes enough to understand what she did after that?

As outrageous as her behavior was, I found it totally believable. Perhaps that was just a reflection of Jean Hegland's excellent writing to have set up Cerise's personality and situation so perfectly. But I can completely understand wanting to be totally alone with such complete grief. With no one else in the world, I could imagine wanting to jump off that bridge...but I would think knowing Melody was still in the world that would keep her going...I just can understand it. I don't understand how a parent could take care of the details of paperwork and burial. I would just want to run away--run home and lock the door...but of course Cerise did not have a home. And she could not forgive Melody. I can understand if I had to keep living, that I'd have to live as someone else.

6. Homeless ~ What would it be like to know, suddenly, that you were quite literally homeless? What would you do?

It is hard to even imagine. I have so many people I could turn to. It would be so humiliating. I would think hunger would drive you to the shelters, though I'd hate the thought of having to sleep there.

1. What would YOU do if your house burned down, leaving you homeless and with no material resources at your command?

It is hard to even fathom. I'd go to my parents' house, or my brother's or sister's or cousin's...without that support however...I'd turn to a church, look for a job, for sure. Hope that I could make it until a paycheck. Probably try to get into a situation like Cerise with a temporary home, but maybe that is because of reading the book.

2. Was there anything Cerise could have done to make a better life for herself?

It seems like she could have confided in someone...but then she could not be that new person anymore...that made Honey back into Cerise. Then she would have to talk about it, face it.

3. How was it a good thing that Anna and Cerise met each other at this time in their lives?

It was good for them both, it got Anna back on track, and helped her face her past, and I think it helped remind Cerise what life could be like, gave her hope of something greater, and made her think she was strong enough to face Melody. I wonder if she would tell her about the battery.

I wonder if the loss of the family farm haunted anyone like it did me! I wanted to blame her husband for that complete loss of the past! It was like Anna's home had burned down too.

I think Jean Hegland is a beautiful sensitive writer! But I found the book very depressing in parts, almost difficult to go on with. I could not imagine how it would end, so for that and for the heartwrenching writing kept me turning the page.

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