Well, we went from here:
I got the bandages off my nose yesterday, but I still can’t lay down flat for a couple of days. That smile has Lortab written all over it!
Up to today I’ve been pretty out of it on pain meds and so it’s nice to not have to fight to think!
Thank you for your well wishes and prayers. The support has been wonderful!
People keep coming to my door and telling me, “I don’t know what to say.” That is because there are no words. There is only love. It is only you that we needed. We needed you, and here you are.
I cannot express how completely my family and I have felt your love. Emails, texts, cards, calls, flowers, visits and food (so much food). Thank you, thank you, thank you.
So many people have shared with me their own stories of grief. I could never have anticipated how deeply comforting it is to hear these stories and to realize the teller is still breathing in and out, getting out of bed, going to work and the store each day. It will be possible to do the mundane and everyday tasks of life, I know that because others who have walked where I am walking are doing it. They told me their stories and so I know it’s possible.
I know I am just at the door of grieving and that it will sneak up on me in months and years ahead and take me out at the knees when I least expect it. But I also know I have a community around me ready to raise me up when I stumble.
I promise I will return this blog to the purpose for which it was intended, but you may have noticed I write when I am sad or angry or confused or happy or… you get it.
I wrote the following letter a couple of days after my son died and I have been asked to share it here. At the time I was sitting in the darkness and just felt compelled to write. After I sent it to Mr. Miranda’s Facebook page I wondered why I did it. Looking back I remember an episode of M*A*S*H where Dr. Sidney Freedman is writing letters to Sigmund Freud to help himself to understand his own feelings.
I’m not a psychiatrist. I’m a writer and a sometime actor. I don’t write to Dr. Freud. It appears I write to Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Dear Mr. Miranda,
I find myself writing to you in this strange public forum because it is the only place I can imagine right now to reach out to you. I could not find an address to send a letter or email.
I have no actual expectation that you will ever read these words, but, gratitude, like forgiveness, is much more for the giver than the receiver. Even if this never reaches you it is still vital for me to say it.
My 13-year-old daughter is a fan of your work, specifically Hamilton, to a point that can only be adequately described as “with the love and obsession possessed by a 13-year-old girl for a piece of art that speaks to her soul.” Thus I have had the opportunity to not only see your masterwork live when it toured through Salt Lake City, but before and after that inspiring performance to hear the soundtrack on an almost daily loop playing in my home and car.
I therefore became a fan as well.
I am compelled now to write you, to thank you for all your work, but specifically for the song It’s Quiet Uptown. That song has played, not in my home or car, but in my head since Tuesday of this week when my eldest son took his own life.
This was not an act which followed a long struggle with depression or crippling mental illness. It happened in a moment when all the ingredients for such a terrible event were present: anger, an argument and a gun. In a moment that he could not take back he let those three elements take him away from his wife, family, brothers, sister and his mother and I.
I was not there when it happened but that does not prevent me from screaming into the past and begging him to stop and breathe and think for just one more moment. That breath and thought will never happen and all I am left with when the screaming grief and tears of his mother and siblings and I fade, is quiet. Quiet in desperate search of peace.
Though it is quiet outside, in my mind I still beg to hold him. I beg to trade his life for mine. But I am left in the end with quiet-where I try to push away the unimaginable. Where I try to live with the unimaginable.
I am searching Mr. Miranda. Next to me is my wife, we are together walking through the unimaginable.
My gratitude to you is for giving me the words, your words, the ones you gave to Alexander Hamilton and to Eliza Hamilton, that you unknowingly gave to my wife and I as well. Those same words you gave to all who are pushing through the unimaginable.
Now I must find my quiet place, my uptown, where I can do the unimaginable and find that grace too powerful to name.
I know it’s there. Because you told a tale that is rooted in truth. Somewhere there is peace. Somewhere there is grace. But right now it seems unimaginable.
I know it is not impossible. I feel the grace of eternity fighting to find a place in my heart. The faith I learned in church from my childhood tells me there is a place of peace beyond this, though I can’t see it now.
The lyrics that, I can tell you, were whispered into your heart by a loving father in heaven, speak to so many people, too many people, who must find a quiet place to look into the void and learn to live with the unimaginable.
Thank you for listening to that still small voice Mr. Miranda. Thank you for following where that voice inside led you. Thank you for giving those words to all of us pushing through the unimaginable. I know it can’t just be me that needs them.
I felt such a great need to tell you that, to express my thanks knowing that you may never hear it. That you may not know I wrote this does not matter when it comes to gratitude. Gratitude must be expressed.
Our great love to you,
Dale H Boam and family
(Thank you for reading this. I’ll get back to the whole interpreting thing now.)
In the epic Stephen King “Gunslinger” series there is a concept called Ka. It is the guidance force that moves us toward our purpose in life. Fate? Destiny? Maybe both, on steroids.
There is a saying in the universe of the Gunslinger, “Ka is a wheel.” It always rolls back around to a new beginning.
I started this blog in March of 2017 as I was confined to my bed following abdominal surgery. It was kind of a rehabilitation exercise and a way to keep my sanity when it hurt to move my body.
On Thursday, this coming week I go under the knife again, this time for my sinuses. The doctor has been honest with me in that I can expect the first couple of days to be a three ring circus of pain. But my life should be greatly improved shortly thereafter.
For a few days I will look like I talked about fight club.
Ka is a wheel.
Just to give you an idea, this is a normal sinus:
And this is mine:
Not good to say the least!
The whole point of this post is to let you all know The Rules may go silent for a couple of days.
Don’t think I’ve abandoned you.
Keep me in your thoughts.
And send me suggestions for Rules because, to be honest I’m keeping a brave face (no pun intended) but I’m nervous. And when the surgery is done I’m not sure how witty or clever I will be feeling. So I’m asking to borrow some of your wit and wisdom.
We all know you have it! You’ve been pondering Rules of your own.
Someone may even get a tee-shirt out of it!
Besides the CEUs and practical information the best thing about national conferences is meeting all the people with whom you have discussions (both friendly and heated) on social media.
On the first day Larry Littleton from Hawaii found me sitting by a wall and stepped up to introduce himself IRL. He is just as funny and charming in-person as he is on ROI.
I met Adam Bartley, who’s mustache is just as epic as you suspect it might be.
I met Dirk Hilliard while we were observing the COR proceedings.
Sarah Baker invited me to visit the Purple Booth on the exhibitors’ floor, which I happily did and was lucky enough to run into Brian Jensen who I have not seen in forever.
All through the conference I have enjoyed meeting person after person who asked me if I was ‘Uncle Dale’, introduced themselves and told me how much they enjoy the blog.
Please, if you see me say hi. I love to meet you (and I have been known to give away a tee-shirt or two, grin).
The winner for my favorite moment of social media and IRL coming together this week has to be what happened yesterday.
During my presentation on the differences between each of the Titles of the ADA and other federal laws (more interesting that you might think) I looked out and saw a face I recognized. It took me a minute to realize it was Lisa Cryer. Lisa and I agree, disagree and generally enjoy intellectual sparing on a FaceBook Group called Reality of ASL Interpreting. It was an honor to have her there. When it was over I told her it took me a second to place from where I knew her. She said she had misplaced her credentials so she did not have her name tag on. We had a great (too short) chat and I had to run to a meeting. While I was walking to the meeting I had to stop and dig something out of my bag. I set my bag on a random table in the lobby, unzipped it, looked down at the table and…
I. KID. YOU. NOT!
I sent her a message that I found her credentials and was dropping it off at ‘lost and found’ on the way to my meeting.
Ten minutes later…
I love weird conference coincidences! Great to meet you Lisa!
Go to conferences. Regional. National. Whatever. They will teach you more than you could possibly learn and the opportunities to connect and knit our communities together is priceless!
p.s. Some people have asked, so here is the description of my workshop:
Federal Laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are complex and confusing. It is vital for both deaf people and interpreters to understand the differences and similarities between, and even within, these laws. It is also vital to know the authorities through which each was passed in order to know which law applies to any specific situation, how a complaint is filed, what is and is not evidence of a violation and what remedies may be available if a violation is proven. There are so many differences it can be hard to keep it all straight! This workshop is presented as a “tour” of the laws as if each was its own country. “Uncle Dale Tours” lays each out like a map of a foreign land and the participants walk through each, see the sights and landmarks unique to each as well as their shared heritage. Each are issued a passport with certain knowledge points needed to earn a “visa” to the next law. It is equally fun and beneficial for the interpreter and community member. [0.125 PS]
I have to add the qualifier, because it happened.
I walked into the lobby of the hotel and saw the interpreter waiting near the front desk. I walked up and said hi.
She asked, “Are you Dale?”
I said I was.
She said, “you are scheduled to work with me from 2 till 5.”
That was news to me. But let’s admit it, it’s not the first time I have been co-opted into interpreting by just putting me on the schedule.
I looked at Aunt SuperTam as if to say, “don’t blame me I didn’t volunteer!”
The Interpreter caught the look and pulled out the schedule to show me and from 2-5 the schedule read her and Dale ‘Not Me.’
That is the first time in my life I have ever been asked, “are you Dale?” and NOT been the Dale in question.
If your name is John or Stephanie or Chris I imagine such things happen all the time. But I can count the number of Dale’s I know or have met on one hand.
Now it was not only NOT JUST NOT ME but another interpreter. A smaller world inside the bigger one.
By the way, Dale ‘Not Me’ showed up. He is a very nice guy with Mad Skills. I’d be willing to be mistaken for him anytime.
Anyway I can’t say “That never happens” to me anymore, because it did.
I’m pretty sure Aunt SuperTam will never experience that because we are still looking for a can of Coke with the name ‘Tammis’. Pretty sure we won’t find one.
An Interpreter Joke from, of all places, Game of Thrones.
An Interpreter was on the deck of a sinking ship. The Capitan asked “can you swim?”
“No,” the Interpreter replied, “but I can yell HELP in 16 languages.”
Thank you Game of Thrones.