“I know it’s going to sound like an excuse,” he said. “But I’ve been
reading a lot about Lyme disease lately…and there’s this thing. A…a
symptom of the disease…called Lyme Rage.”
I rolled my eyes.
“You’re right. It does sound like an excuse,” I said.
He cleared his throat and tried again.
“No, but people really do…they really do get it. Lyme Rage, I mean. And they just have no…it’s inexplicable.”
His eyes were pleading. He had a hand on my shoulder. He wanted to be let off the hook.
“There’s regular old rage, too,” I said. “You don’t have to be sick to be angry.”
His head dropped and his hands dropped into his lap.
“I know. I know it,” he said. But then he looked up and brightened.
“But you should know I fixed it. I fixed it all…every bit of it. It’s
all…even better than before. You’ll never believe!”
And another thing that makes friendship difficult for Traysie’s character.
Maybe she’s angry. She doesn’t want to be angry and she hates being
angry and she hates herself when she’s angry but it’s a fact and there’s
nothing she can do about it. There is nothing she can do.
She knows because she’s tried. She’s tried to stop being angry by
telling herself that it’s wrong and by telling herself that it’s petty
and by reminding herself that she’s blessed. That she really is. She’s
tried praying. But still.
There it is and it’s always there lurking, just waiting for some
stupid girl to complain about her difficult and embarrassing dad. Just
waiting for some work colleague in his 50′s to whine about taking care
of his sick, aging parents.To talk about how exhausted he is. The anger
is just waiting to rear its ugly (God! Shut up you moron shut up shut up
shut up you don’t know difficult shut up you lazy fat old man God just
shut up you don’t even know sick you don’t even know tired) head.
If you have a sick dad. A sick mom. A sick sibling. A sick husband or wife. Then this phrase is in your lexicon.
He isn’t really himself right now. She’s just not herself today.
I know I said these exact words, about my dad, dozens of times. Maybe
even hundreds. Sometimes, I’d sit around with my siblings, my mom — old
family friends — trying to understand. Trying to make sense of the
disease. And we’d keep coming back to this phrase. To this idea.
Whatever this disease is — it’s not him.
At the time, it felt like grace. It felt like we were letting my dad
off the hook. Letting him get away with something by distinguishing
between him and the disease.
But then I read Kafka’s Metamorphosis