****see below for text at the top of the panel
I ordinarily don't read graphic novels because I'm not a visual-type person. I like words, and pictures confuse me. I don't even listen to recordings of books, except for poetry, because I just can't pay attention. I've had the book Epileptic by David B. for many years, but it has always sort of horrified me. David B. is a famous European comic artist who grew up with an epileptic brother. The book is a memoir of that childhood, an account of David's and his sister's coping with the diagnosis of epilepsy that his brother received at age eight. He coped with the horror of the epilepsy by drawing elaborate battle scenes. Their mother evidently dragged their entire family to alternative healers as well as many traditional doctors in an endless pursuit to help her son. Her son only got worse, and the book is upsetting for that alone. When I first picked it up, I happened upon a picture of the mother and it upset me so much that I put it down again. She looked like a raving lunatic monster, a monster whose face I myself probably take on at periods. While this family was very close and deeply loved one another, it was more than upsetting to me to see a pictorial representation of what these children saw when they looked at their mother. I just couldn't read it and put it up on the shelf, until today.
If you remember, I posted recently about my son Oliver's drawings of elaborate battle scenes, drawings that his teacher had determined to be "violent" but that I think are rather brilliant and deeply imaginative. When I pulled this book down off the shelf, having forgotten about it, I was struck by the similarities. They make me nervous but perhaps as I read the book, I might gain some insight into what Sophie's brothers go through, living in a family that deals with this terrible disease. The effects of having a sister with such a stressful disorder are well-known to me and I do believe that I've done "the right things," ensuring that they get attention and don't feel responsible for their sister's seizures and difficulties. I'm also very sensitive to them feeling their own emotions and not feeling responsible for mine -- I have always been open with feelings of grief but have assured them that we (The Husband and I) are taking care of Sophie and that it's all right to express anger or sorrow or other difficult emotions. And I think, for the most part, that they have not just endured but thrived in a less-than-orthodox family situation. I do wonder, though, about their interior lives, knowing full well that the impact of their sister is an immense one. I look forward to really reading this book with the awareness that it is someone else's experience.
*** This disease would eventually make off with all of us. I was sure of it.