Of course, he’s not dry-eyed or uncomplaining, and the post-traumatic stress is in its earliest stages. His mind and body are undergoing a transformation. But not his soul.
You don’t know someone until you’ve seen how s/he responds to pain, crisis, or off-the-charts stress. To understand a person’s true character, watch how s/he behaves in the worst of times, not the best of times. How they handle themselves, how they handle others - along the victim-phoenix spectrum, most people fall somewhere in between; some are all phoenix, nothing but.
The phoenix who’s the subject of this post was in the ICU for 5 days. “The nurses loved me, they thought I was fabulous,” was one of the first things he had to say about that. His skin, including the skin on his face, suffered second- and third-degree burns. “Now it’s just like I had a chemical peel, I look fantastic,” he reported last week.
He’s not getting back to himself – this is his core self.
In college, when his off-campus apartment was broken into, it sounded like the burglars prepared themselves a light meal in his kitchen before bouncing. “And they didn’t even fix me a plate,” he said not long afterwards.
During her one-woman Broadway show a few years ago, Carrie Fisher mentioned an occasion with her daughter. When Fisher chronicled the almost too-bad-to-be-true sorrow and dysfunction that had plagued her and their family over the decades, the daughter periodically broke into laughter, easily able to locate hilarity in the hardship. Fisher said that was when she knew her kid would always be OK.