Sean spent eleven days in intensive care, fighting for his life, and ‘died ‘ thirteen times as his organs kept shutting down. My family spent every moment by his bedside during that time, and were shocked to see the awful green liquid the nurses regularly pumped from his stomach – the color of spirulina. Apparently, that’s what poison looks like in the body, and his body was being poisoned by the trauma of what happened to him.
Sean was in hospital for many months after he left intensive care (and spent years in rehabilitation ). During that time, he emerged from a vegetative coma state, to slowly learn to manage his body and mind again.
He had to learn to move himself, and was at first like a new born baby with a floppy head and limbs that he had no control over. He had to learn to not only eat, but also to swallow.
(He’d forgotten how to do that, and it was only then that we realized how much people learn as a baby. Babies often have trouble swallowing their first solid foods, making their limbs work, and forming their first words).
He had to learn to talk again, and even today finds that hard, sometimes, because his tongue is always partially paralyzed – but we made him signboards so all he had to do was point at letters and words to get his message across. He also got pretty good control over his thumb, and the ‘thumbs up‘ sign was often his response to people, as well as his smile.
When Sean smiled, his whole face lit up, along with his eyes. It was amazing to see. You’d think that what had happened to him would have set him back, or made him afraid of or angry at the world, but it didn’t Instead, the energy that came from him was positive and glowing. So, later on, we took to calling him our Ganesha.
Ganesha is a Vedic god who was the son of Shiva and Parvati. He had an elephant’s head on a human body, but it’s how he got his head that aligned his story to Sean’s.
Ganesha’s dad, Shiva, was the god of yoga and meditation, as well as being the creator and destroyer of worlds. Basically, he was/is among the highest hierarchy of the gods.
Shiva fell in love with Parvati (also called Uma) when he was already a very old man, so he was quite set in his ways by then. Even though they had a great love match, Shiva still liked to get away on his own and would spend months, and even years, apart from his beloved as he went on solo meditation retreats in the mountains.
During those times, Parvati became quite lonely, so one day she formed a little baby out of clay and breathed life into it. That baby was Ganesha.
Parvati and Ganesha had a great time together, and Ganesha did not meet his father until he was much older. By then, he and his mother had some daily rituals, such as Parvati taking herself off to bed for an afternoon nap, and Ganesha guarding her door whilst she slept so no one would disturb her.
It was during one of these siestas that Shiva finally came home. As usual, the first place he headed to was his wife’s boudoir for a bit of ‘meditation-breaking love-making ‘ – but when he got there, Ganesha was guarding the door.
Ganesha didn’t know who was being so aggressive about getting into the room and so he defended his mother’s door. Shiva got angry that he wasn’t being allowed to see his own wife ( and he didn’t know Ganesha was his son ), so a sword fight ensued, and during that fight Shiva cut off his son’s head with such force that it was flung into the cosmos and was never seen again.
Parvati was woken by all the hubbub, of course, and arrived just in time to see Shiva do the dastardly deed. She burst into tears, telling him that he had just killed their son.
Now, Shiva is not only the ‘Destroyer‘ but also the ‘Creator‘, so he could make Ganesha live again. What he couldn’t do was find his head to put it back on, so instead he went out into the world, declaring that he would bring back the head of the first baby born that he found. That baby happened to be an elephant.
( Let’s not get into the awful feeling the mother elephant must have had to see her new baby decapitated… or why an omnipotent god like Shiva couldn’t find his son’s own head… this is a story, after all).
So Ganesha had an elephant’s head after that, and all the family reunited in love and happiness.
We thought this story fit with our son, Sean, because Sean was also disabled in a terrible accident, and Sean was also a beautiful kid who loved his mum, and who still smiles and dances and spreads delight in the world. He once told me that it’s his mission to try to make everyone smile, so he bales even strangers up to smile at them, and if they smile back, he believes he has lightened their day.
I think that is a pretty good mission to have !
Like Ganesha, Sean is never going to not be visibly disabled, now – but he is still intelligent, perceptive, kind, charming, and extremely considerate and loving.
So, we have kept the god, Ganesha, close to us to remind us of our miracle, and our home is full of statues ( the picture at the top of this blog is of a statue only recently acquired by Sean ), hangings, and tapestries of this lovely Vedic god, who is known today for his intelligence, for writing the Vedic scriptures, and for his ability to remove all obstacles, and to bring blessings and good fortune.
(I actually believe that ‘gods’ can manifest in human form, and in multiple humans at the same time, so who knows if Sean could perhaps actually be manifesting a piece of Ganesha?)
Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how Ganesha has brought brightness to our lives, and how much his spirit lives in our son.
If you’d like to know more about Sean’s story, see some of his hospital photos, read the “God” poem he wrote about a year after his accident, and read the story “I Don’t Know” that he narrated to me as a six year old (I was the shadow writer), visit this link and click on the other links you find on the page as you explore.
Sean (nicknamed ‘Pumpkin’ as a child by me) did grow up to be a very fine man, and was once married long enough to have two beautiful daughters. When I look at them today, and see the wonderfully happy relationship they have with their loving father, I am reminded that Ganesha also had two consorts, Riddhi (prosperity) and Siddhi (spiritual power). Sean’s daughters also attract attention wherever they go, and I’m looking forward to seeing what their future holds…