Small Moments Fill This Life with Giant Memories

Small Moments Fill This Life with Giant Memories
Posted by CN Staff on November 27, 2002 at 21:25:07 PT
By Crocker Stephenson
Source: Journal Sentinel 
It's late when I get home, and I find my wife wrapped in a blue sleeping bag, cocooned in down and polyester, asleep on the couch with our infant son. It is winter, and my skin feels slightly thickened, rubbery. It feels like I am located somewhere inside my skin, like a foot in a boot. Wind shoves the house, and the house vibrates. I exhale, shoving back.The inside of the sleeping bag, where I reach my hands to gather up our baby, is warm, and when I lift my son from my wife's breathing chest, I leave behind an empty spot. 
I fill the interstice with a pillow from the floor. The pillow is the temperature of the floor, warmer than my hands but cooler than the spot in which it is placed; my wife makes a sound that begins with the letter "m," then embraces it. I rest my son on my shoulder and walk through the dark house, my hands now warm enough to feel the nap of his sleeper, to feel the way it slides on the surface of his disposable diaper. With this baby at my shoulder, I am a giant. There are counties between my footsteps. My hands are enormous. There is no limit to my height.I place the baby in his crib, lowering him through the miles of darkness between my shoulder and his mattress; the streetlight outside his window, even in the darkness, ignites his hair. I return to my breathing wife. But rather than wake her, I take a pillow and blanket from the bedroom and lie down on the floor beside the couch.There is so much wind, and now there is snow pelting the window glass. I lie on my back, trying to match my breathing with her breathing. In. Out. In. Out.I place my hand on my chest; I can feel at the same instant both the floor and my hand; they are just inches apart. I can hardly believe it: that all of me is contained within this space.***When I was 4, I found four stones half-buried in the field behind my home. They were oddly shaped: long, rounded and about 8 inches long. I dug them out of the ground and brought them home to show my brother.It has been years since I've written his name. His name was Chuck.Chuck was 14 months my senior, my father's oldest son. He had red hair, so pretty that for the first few years of his life, my mother and father couldn't bear to have it cut. It fell to his shoulders in curls.Chuck looked the stones over, got out a magnifying glass and examined them some more. He told me that they were the fingers of a petrified giant."That field is a giants graveyard," he said. "At night, giants come there to die.""Chuck," I said.He picked up one of the stones, the largest. It was gray, except for the parts of it that had been buried, which were brown and still sandy."Chuck.""It's true," he said.***Chuck was 18 with long red hair that fell to his shoulders when a team of surgeons opened his body and removed lymph nodes swollen with the cancer that would eventually spread to his brain.Home from the hospital, he and I would walk through the field behind our house. Thin, pale and hairless, he had developed an affection for marijuana - "What's it going to do?" he'd say. "Shorten my life?" - and we would sit on a rock near what had been an apple orchard and pass a joint back and forth.It was spring but still chilly. Chuck wore a fur hat that I remember as being orange, but I'm certain that, in fact, it was some other color."Look," he said one evening.He reached into the weeds and broke off a stalk. At the end of the stalk was a cocoon."Here," he said. "A gift."I put the cocoon in my pocket and handed him the joint."Do you remember," I asked, "the petrified giants?"He inhaled, thought for a minute, then blew out the smoke."Giants?" he asked.I told him about the stones. He shook his head and smiled."No," he said. "I don't remember."***I push my hand into the sleeping bag, pushing aside pillow, arm and pajamas, resting my fingers at my wife's hip. Her hand takes my hand. It's a little uncomfortable, the angle of my arm. I withdraw my hand. The wind outside. The radiators. Bang. Bang. Remember tomorrow: (bang) Bleed the radiators.***I tacked the cocoon to the bulletin board above the desk in my room. Maybe it'll produce a butterfly, I thought.A few weeks after Chuck died, I woke up and found a thin green line that emerged from a small tear in the cocoon and extended for several feet across the wall of my room.It was a ribbon of praying mantises, hundreds of them: minute, complete, ambulant. Alive.I collected the mantises in a shoe box, then placed the box in the field behind our house, in a spot I though a giant might some night come to, his immense chest parting the crest of a tree, his feet stepping large and quiet into the field, his hair lighted by the moon as he bent toward earth, to put his head on the ground, to close his eyes, to become a rock, to listen the mantises nearby, praying.A version of this story appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Nov. 28, 2002.Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)Author: Crocker StephensonPublished: November 28, 2002Copyright: 2002 Milwaukee Journal SentinelContact: jsedit onwis.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on November 28, 2002 at 07:28:46 PT
Thank you and have a Happy Thanksgiving Day.
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Comment #6 posted by BigDawg on November 28, 2002 at 07:20:06 PT
May the gods that be smile on you and yours this harvest season.I appreciate all the hard work you have done in providing this wonderful source.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on November 28, 2002 at 06:58:45 PT
Dr. Russo
Happy Thanksgiving to you too!
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Comment #4 posted by Ethan Russo MD on November 28, 2002 at 04:36:03 PT:
Stories such as these humanize the clinical cannabis issue in a manner that the public understands, but our leaders do not. That's a shame.My salute to you, FoM, and to all: Happy Thanksgiving!
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on November 27, 2002 at 22:20:30 PT
Happy Thanksgiving to you too. Maybe next year will be our year! That will be one of my Thanksgiving prayers. 
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Comment #2 posted by knox42897 on November 27, 2002 at 22:17:31 PT:
Thanks for all yoour wonderful work.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on November 27, 2002 at 21:28:26 PT
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone
I read this article and thought it would be a good one to post to make us think about what is important in life. My son always said Mom we must make memories now while we can. He was right. I hope you all will make good memories on this Thanksgiving Day. Hug the ones you love.
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