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    Posted August 12, 2014 by
    Portland, Oregon
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    In Memoriam

    Patch Adams Saved my Life

    Patch Adams was released the "first Christmas" after my son, Reed, committed suicide. As a speech-pathologist, I was a pro at caring for others, but clueless in caring for myself as a grieving mother. Humor and grief simply do not mix. But I felt so much lighter after seeing Patch. My body relaxed and my heart opened. I felt Grief's Grip release me as I howled at the red nosed antics and vocal inflections of classic Robin Williams.
    I had begun to discover that the vortex of grief could be traversed differently. Williams compassion for his patients through humor was something I could grasp to support myself. Could laughter when I felt so little be something I could allow myself? Could I simply begin to smile at the guilty thoughts I was having as a mother who's gifted, creative son did not live through adolescence?
    When the butterfly landed on his medical bag I lost it. For Reed had drawn a stunning black and white butterfly as a fifth grader. He had, I felt, used a swallowtail to communicate with us in the spring. "My Soul is soaring, Mom". Each time the black and yellow wings would appear in the pine tree he'd planted as a child, my heart would soar. I could breathe into life for a moment before being plunged into the vortex of grief.
    Where was that butterfly on August 11th? We can never know the heart of another. Addiction is exhausting. So can be the gift of exponential creativity and heart opening literally from heart surgery. Unless the invasive trauma of surgery is recognized in the body and released with movement and touch, it may result in more complications.

    So Robin Williams you gave me the gift of humor as self-care. In death you have given me the opportunity for a do-over as a Baby Boomer. This time I will feel the jolt in my stomach I felt when I read the text of your departure. The very breath needed to laugh was sucked from me in that moment. As it was from you. This time I will allow my grief out of the closet. I am not afraid of how I will be seen as a mourner. There will be things undone this day as I join America in grieving. As I wait for the media to bring to light every detail of your death, I will remember I am fragile as you, Robin Williams. You have given me the strength to invite others this time to feel their embodied grief. Howl it. Knowing our minds cannot understand you choice, we can for the next 90 days be more compassionate and gentle with ourselves and one another.
    What would this America feel like, look like, sound like? I dare us to try.
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