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Listen to me read this piece here.


Chris posted an apt Facebook update recently, which was accompanied by a blurry photograph of New Orleans’s long-running Rebirth Brass Band (& a staple of our weekend morning breakfasts). I paraphrase when I say that it went something like:

“After a year of death, it’s good to experience the presence of rebirth.”

I realized a few days ago that 2013 may well have been the most difficult year of my life to date; it’s certainly in the running for the worst year that Chris and I have spent of our twelve together. There was death, literal death, in the passing of Grandpa D’aquin, who helped to raise Chris in his youth, and was as much of a grandfather to me as my own two were. I was unable to go to Grandpa D’aquin’s funeral in New Orleans because I was sick. I left my full-time job of three years due to a realization that a high-impact, full-time job was not sustainable with the way that my illnesses were progressing. I became ill again only a few months after a new medication stabilized me, and that illness became a systemic, thus-far undiagnosable condition that sent me to a neurology consult, threatened my understanding of what I thought a fulfilling existence with chronic illnesses looked like, strained my home life, and had me bedridden and unable to talk for hours, almost daily, with no predictability and few answers.

What the new year, and what resolutions and new beginnings, now mean to me is different than what they used to mean.

I ought to also mention my development of Cotard’s delusion — the rare delusion in which the sufferer believes he or she is dead — which has now ended, and ended without fanfare, but was horrifying while it lasted. I sincerely believed that I was in Perdition, which is different from the horror of grief or loss. Grief and loss are human experiences. To be wandering in a hellish afterlife is not.

And so this idea of death, and the hope of rebirth, has been on my mind.

I won’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I will begin to hope again.

This week I’ve been dressing in the way that I used to. A minidress with gold thread and a paisley pattern. A vintage, calf-length mulberry-hued skirt with a peach-and-black chiffon sash. Silk blouses with round collars. I am trying to come back to myself. I saw a photograph of myself from yesterday and and was shocked by the appearance of the birthmark on the back of my neck.

It’s these sorts of things that have helped to bring me out of dissociation and delusion. There are surprises, such as the sight of my own birthmark. There is the wonder of the love of my in-laws, who supported me when I was visiting New Orleans over the holidays — a trip that I wasn’t sure I could make — and made sure that I had a stove’s worth of gluten-free food to eat, due to medical restrictions. There is the steadfastness of Daphne, who never minds if I’m not myself; there are my parents, who have come overseas again to help us with medical appointments and new diets and, in sum, the care and keeping of Esmé. There is Chris. Always, there has been Chris.

As my in-laws and Grandma D’aquin sat around the tiny dining room table, eating from Picadilly out of styrofoam containers, Grandma grabbed my hand to say grace, leaned into me, and asked in her deep drawl, “What would we do without family?”

Indeed. And, I would ask, what that really means is this: what would we do without love?


2014, for this site and business, hold for me the intention of abundance: a new look and format for this space, editing and copyediting services that build upon over ten years of expertise, and a  book that will hold the space of the book I wrote before the one I’m constructing now.

Things will surprise me. Situations will change. I am learning that intentions are designed to surprise. Tweet: Intentions are designed to surprise. - @esmewang, in

With all of the love I can muster as we head into 2014,