How to Cut Carrots for Soup (or Another Night with the Schizophrenias) by Miriam Feldman

By March 27, 2019Blog

I want to think he is sleeping peacefully right now. It is 11:06pm and I am at my desk looking at my computer. Things have been rocky these past few weeks. He might be put back in the hospital. Maybe he will trash his apartment again tonight. That would ruin everything, get him evicted from the nice, subsidized apartment we sat on the waiting list for two years to get. Maybe everything is already ruined. How much Valium can I give him to stave off the inevitable? How much Valium is there in the world?

I haven’t gotten any alarming texts from his caregivers tonight, so he must be calmer. I want to believe that with all my heart. I want to just slip into sleep and trust that all is well. Can I do that? Wait. A notification from the hospital lab slides across the screen. His test results are back. Hmmm. Lithium level not great yet, but at least nudging at the therapeutic range. Okay. He must be swallowing the pills. It’s getting in his body. Given some more time he will stabilize. Maybe I can go to sleep.

What’s this? Another result? What is this test, something about CBC? It says he has GIANT PLATELETS. What the hell is that?

I turn to Google. Giant Platelets. I can’t make sense of any of it. All I know is that I was going to actually lay my head on my pillow tonight with some sense of optimism, and now I have to ponder the implications of giant platelets. Is that a good thing? Like a giant head of lettuce would make lots of salads? Or is this going to kill him? Perhaps the immensity of his platelets will damage him, cause his heart to stop beating.

When my son Nick was still inside of me, a tiny little tadpole boy swimming about, my husband and I heard his heart beat for the first time. Back in those days they didn’t do sonograms without a reason, so the mystery of an unborn child was a universe of wonder. We sat in the doctor’s office as she placed the stethoscope on my belly, the sound came whooshing through some sort of speaker. It was like the faraway repetitive slap of some distant ocean. My husband blanched and reached behind him for a chair, they had to give him a paper bag to breath into. He was overwhelmed by the sound.

Afterwards, we went to a small Armenian restaurant to have lunch. I ordered soup. It was particularly delicious, and I tried to figure out why. Staring at the bowl, I noticed the way the carrots were cut. They weren’t the usual uniform disks, graduating in size from the thick part of the carrot to the tip. They were random shapes, as though the cook had performed a wild cutlery dance, shiny blades flying. There were circles, half-moons, rectangles…little snippets of carrot that defied description. That was why the soup was so good. Something about the constellation of shapes enhanced flavor, made it more interesting. When something arrives in an unexpected form it holds adventure, interest.

Nick arrived six months later with a perfectly beating heart and filled our world with configurations of unexpected stars, some beautiful, some with sharp edges that cut.



  • Jamie R says:

    I loved reading this, I was wanting there to be more to read. My husband and I too have a son named Nick who has been mightily struggling the past seven years with some sort of mental illness. He refuses to go for help, his life is one continuous train wreck. Thank you for your very interesting and well written article. I am sorry for the heartbreaking circumstances that you have found yourselves in. Your Nick is loved by you and is one of the fortunate ones who still have family loving and caring for him and involved.

  • I’m so sorry Jamie. Sometimes all we can do is to love them. And there is more to read! My memoir will be out in June 2020. Check my website. xo Miriam

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