Tears of a Clown Part 2
“The angriest and saddest people are hidden behind a mask. A mask of laughter and happiness. It’s amazing what you can fake with a smile.”
Please forgive me for not having exact recollection of when things happened. My memory is somewhat different these days. Sometimes I remember parts of events that happen, but not dates and times that correlate. The more stressful the situation, sometimes I can have a very vivid or absent recall. As you can imagine this situation would be put in the ‘high stress’ category. I also want to point out that in calling Levi my ‘brother,’ I’m not negating the relationships that he has with his biological family. I totally respect the relationships that he has with them. I do know, that I could never replace his biological brother and sisters, like they would not be able to replace me in his life. I think that there’s definitely a mutual respect about that that was established that didn’t even need to be spoken during this particular incident.
At some point, I was sitting by Levi’s bed in a chair, with Charlene, Mel and Marshall in the room. His mom was under covers sleeping on a cot that made jail mattresses look like a Sealy Posturepedic. I looked over at her finally sleeping peacefully but scared that the cot might actually eat her. I hoped that I would actually get to spend some time with the mother of one of the closest people to me. Levi is in excruciating pain as you can imagine. He still tries to talk to me. Secretly, the nausea is creeping closer and quicker than I was prepared. I soon begin sweating which also led to chills. I wake up to Charlene and Mel wiping my forehead with cool cloths and fanning me. I had just passed out. I tend to get up and leave when friends or family are in a lot of pain. The energy that they put off is too much for me to handle. I absorb every emotion. This time, though, as hard as it was, I stayed right by his side. I couldn’t do any of the nursing stuff like his wife and brother because well….I’ll start throwing up.
His family, my family and I were just about to go through a 6 hour waiting period while he was in surgery known to me as “purgatory.” Prior to him going to surgery, though, someone looked at me and asked, “Are you Dana?” Immediately, that usually means I’m in trouble for something. I was secretly trying to figure out if it was the hairstyle or the lesbian part that gave me away. Instead, I was told, “It’s so good to finally meet you!” I was completely taken aback in amazement. Another person said, “Yes, we’ve heard so much about you.” Inside, I remember thinking, “What did that nut throw me under the bus about?” I figured he had told some of both our funny and serious childhood stories. So, I slowly begin doing for his family what he would do for mine….MAKE THEM LAUGH!
You see, for clowns, everyone else’s needs are always put before your own because our job is to keep people happy. It’s as natural for him and me as breathing. When feeling uncomfortable, always make someone laugh…Rule #1. Rule #2….Never let them see how you really feel. Yea, I couldn’t hide how I felt for this guy.
My #1 goal then was to take care of and support Charlene while we were waiting these agonizing hours for our brother, uncle, poppa, daddy, friend and husband to go through the start of a long recovery process. There were many people who were waiting with us that I curiously wanted to meet. But, my protective instinct took over for Charlene without her ever knowing. I was ready to support her like Levi would support Mel if the tables were turned. And I can assure you that her anxiety was minimized very quickly. Marshall was playing with his new friend Boudreaux who is about 10 months old. He is also the grandson of Levi and Charlene. They were having a great time playing when “Nurse Ratched” told us to keep it down. She said that they don’t usually have children in that area. There were children’s toys and furniture place all around the waiting room. So, I start having an allergic reaction to a sudden case of stupid. I’m thinking yea, just waiting until Marshall gets in the zone, he’ll show you loud. I honestly wondered if maybe they trained monkeys since all of that was not for children. Maybe it was just intended for immature and very small adults. I knew what time it was and started counting down until Marshall was getting ready to have a full meltdown. Marshall was getting into full ‘toddler psychosis mode’ so, Mel took Marshall back to the motel for a nap. Then, it was just me and the Pierce family. This could be good or bad, I didn’t know.
I already was very comfortable around Charlene and Chris. I have known Chris as long as I’ve known Levi. So, I knew I was safe with them. Marshall was actually an ‘ice breaker.’ I started out slowly and then came the stories about being a toddler mom. We were all laughing in the end. In the meantime, I was internally trying my best to protect by heart from crumbling under the intense fear of losing him during the surgery. I was also able to spend some time catching up with Chris after 20+ years. We both had some good laughs all by ourselves.
After a very short time of being around his friends and family, I heard what both of our wives have said, “You and “Spunky” are way too much alike! Are you sure there’s no DNA?” But, as a family, they were able to witness that connection that’s unexplainable. I’m sure some thought that I was just an old ‘buddy’ from school. We will argue with each other like an old married couple while you would be watching and laughing. But, he’s also like a sibling and a ‘soul mate’ all rolled up into one. (It’s not the same type of ‘soul mate’ like a spouse.) I know… I know….. It sounds weird. To me and Levi, it’s weird also, but we accepted the relationship when we were kids. I know some people thought that God broke the mold when he made me. Wrong! He needed one of each gender.
His mother looked at me and said, “I didn’t know I had a daughter. This whole time I thought “Spunky” was getting into trouble all by himself.” I was like, “I only helped him through middle school and part of high school. The rest of it, he did on his own.” Then I felt bad because I had just “thrown my buddy under the bus” to his momma. I remember thinking, “Really, Dana? Ummmm….you’re both almost 40 years old.” I chuckled at the thought of what he would say if I told him that. I wondered if they knew how terrified I was that they wouldn’t like me. One similarity between us is that we both have a huge hang ups about how things appear vs. how they actually are. Like I said, he and I were fighting the same types of demons at school with teachers. On the inside, I was shaking like an abused animal. The outside, I appeared ‘cool as a cucumber’ while bringing a much needed distraction from the current situation. I think some were just watching me and wondering how they are so much alike. You really would have to see us together to understand.
I’ve thought about how our relationship has remained so strong even after 20+ years. I was finally able to unravel and understand that for me he is a ‘safety blanket.’ Not in the sense of being needy…..ewwwww. When I’m around him even the first night we reunited, I feel emotionally just like I did as a teenager. With him, I was always felt ‘safe’ even when it wasn’t. But, I knew that everything would be ok. He always tried to protect me even when he couldn’t. He would even go, as far as, intentionally getting detention so I wouldn’t have to be there alone. We both are still attached to each other like we’re kids. Trust me, when we get around each other, WE ARE KIDS!
With what seemed like forever, the doctor came out to speak to the family about how the surgery had been very successful. He now had 7 plates in his face and his jaw was wired shut. The eye socket was not as bad as they thought. And there should be no problems with his vision long term. We could all now breathe a sigh of relief. I wanted to vomit but I had to maintain a consistency in presentation. My guard was finally able to be lowered and we could all relax a little bit. That’s what I needed to hear to make it through the night.
Later that night……the “Tears of a Clown” began to fall again.