Friday, September 9, 2011

Just so much

It's amazing all that can happen in a week, even more amazing the array of emotions one person can experience in that same week.  By turns, I have felt worry, triumph, fear, sadness, joy, loneliness and gratefulness; each emotion leaving its own little footprint behind in its wake.  In watching my baby change, day by day, I feel as if I am changing just as fast, no longer the same person from one moment to the next.

Just a short time ago, I thought I was strong.  I juggled work, caring for three children, household chores, and working in time for that man in my house whom I happen to love quite a bit, known as my husband.  My biggest problem was how best to save for Christmas, my biggest worry that my 3-year old was getting spoiled with too many sweets at his grandparent's house.  How distant that person seems to me now.

In the past week, there has been much coverage of the 9/11 tragedy - most of which I am unable to bring myself to watch.  I tell myself that I owe it to the memories of those fallen that day - to hear their stories, to cry for them, to grieve with those they left behind.  To marvel at their courage and the massive, senseless loss of life.  For these reasons, I'll probably pick the longest, saddest, most sob-inducing prime-time special to watch, and watch it I will.  I will cry until I ache, and afterward I will hug my babies and my husband, and I will be grateful they are here to hold in my arms right now, in this moment.  Then the next day, I will get up and think of other things, get a little distance on it again, until next year rolls around.

It occurs to me that there are some parallels here, for me.  I was young when those towers fell, and I still remember the feeling that the event had created a Before and an After in my life.  We had never experienced a terrorist attack, so in our reality, the threat did not exist.  When flying, our baggage was checked, but only cursorily.  Pocket knives were an essential tool a good southern boy was rarely without, not a potential instrument of death, and strangers were simply people we hadn't met yet - not people who might be expected to kill themselves, and us, in the name of a god for whom peace would never be good enough.

Another Before and After was created for me on March 1st, 2011, when my baby boy was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.  I look back at the person I was before that day with mixed emotions, wondering that I could have been so blind, so naive to think that because I had already survived so much, worked through so much in my short life, that no other demons were lurking around the corner.  Surely I was golden, right?  Surely I could not be expected to conquer MORE than I had thus far, right?  I imagine God looking down at me that day and responding with an emphatic, "Yep."  And maybe those previous struggles, that previous survival, was the reason for that answer of His.  Maybe God could have given that earth shattering diagnosis to anyone, but He chose me, because He knew I could take it and run with it.  He knew that of all the mothers in the world who had been, were and would be in the future, I was Caleb's best shot.  He was going to need some backup in moving those mountains of his.

So if I could go back to that day and say anything to myself, it would be, "It's going to be okay."  Six months ago, I don't know if I would have believed myself.  At that point, I was so mired in panic and worry and denial and confusion, I don't know that I would have even paused long enough to listen.  I wish I could have told myself that six months to the day from that first neurologist visit, I would be back in her office again - (slightly) more educated, calm(er) and bearing progress charts. PHENOMENAL progress charts, as a matter of fact.  My baby and his therapists worked hard for every bit of achievement represented in those little colored squares, and I absolutely could not be prouder of any of them.

No, Caleb was not pronounced "cured", but he sure did put a smile (okay, an approving look) on that doctor's face, as well as that of every therapist that had worked with him.  I'm half convinced THAT group was more excited about his neurologist appointment than we were.  The official diagnosis was kept as PDD-NOS, but the prescription was simply, "Keep doing what you're doing.  Don't change a thing."

We couldn't have received a better one.

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