My aunt fought her cancer for two years and a few months before she dies early on the morning of New Years Eve. She was a great individual and always lived her life to the fullest even when she was sick with cancer. We knew she was dying much too young and that was bad enough, but then my uncle (her husband) was struck with a heart attack just few hours before she died. He was in coma for a week and half before his family decided to honor his wishes and discontinue extraordinary life-saving measures. He died a few days later. We were not prepared for this. It was hard enough to think about losing one, but losing two so quickly has been a shock for everyone. This might seem like an unusual subject in a blog about deafness, but for obvious reasons, it is on my mind.
I know there is no connection between death and being deaf. Yet, even in this sadness, I feel like there is a huge disadvantage to being deaf. No matter who you are, you have a hard time when someone dies. Grief is unpredictable and it is extremely important to have a support system when dealing with death. Most people would be around their family giving each other support and talking to each other. But me? When all this was happening with my family, I was away in college. I had just started the first week of a new term so I did not feel like I should skip all of my new classes to go home and be with my family.
So I have been texting and emailing my family as much as I can. I am doing it partly to support them and partly to deal with my own thoughts and feelings. Texting is not the best way to communicate in this situation, that is for sure. Often when I type out a text or even an email, it does not really capture what I want to say, so I do not even send it and try to write a new one. I think it would be so much easier to talk on the phone. That way, I could call my family, talk to them and be sad with them. It would also be a lot easier to get updates. Sending a lot of short messages is annoying and often leads to misunderstanding. Every time I got an update from my family, I would get confused and sometimes I had the completely wrong idea about what was happening.
I think part of the problem is that there is no emotion in text. Sure you get clues so you can try to figure it out. But sometimes words or sentences can be interpreted more than one way. In person, you can see emotions on people's faces. Even on the phone, I can tell that people hear emotions from the other person's voice.
It is also a problem when I am feeling very sad. I like to use my voice when I express myself, but I cannot just call somebody and talk on the phone. I have to text somebody and ask them to meet me somewhere. But I do not like having to make plans just to be sad. You cannot control when you will feel certain emotions. When I feel sad, I want to be able to talk to somebody right away. And texting when I am sad makes me feel even more cut off from other people.
I do not want to feel upset about being deaf all the time. I know I have to make the best of my situation and try to communicate and support my family in any way I can. I know texting gives deaf people options that they did not have before. This week, however, I was mostly aware of how limited this form of communication is. It is like my grief is double. I am mourning my aunt and my uncle. And I am mourning the face that being deaf cuts me off from people I love at a time when we need each other the most.