Sometimes its just so damn draining acting like a detective trying to decipher why my son just doesnt seem right.
His furrow deeper, his eyes down, with dark crescents beneath his baby blues.
My baby, still, on life support, unable to breathe, except now he is ten sitting at the table doing multiplication, his head bent close to his paper, his pencil held midair, me watching, wondering, forgetting to breathe.
"Do you feel ok?" I ask daily, for the past week, as he seems like a shadow of usually energetic self.
I'm not sure why I ask, since he has never once complained of sickness or injury, it is only bruises, blood, vomit, or a fever that lets us know he doesn't feel good.
"Yeah," he replies rubbing his eyes.
"I just don't want to go to school," he tells me every morning now. And nor do I, but I tell him I do. I want to stay home with him and search for his smile. Find the missing pieces to his heart.
Or take him to a hospital for a blood test, an x-ray, a full body scan to quiet the worrier in me that thinks this is it.
This is the final doom that's been lurking ever since: "He's alive but I can't tell you he's going to survive."
He may just have the cruds or his brain could be bleeding again...
And I don't want to think this way, and I can hear people saying, Christy it's all in your head, but my relationship with Elias is wrapped in what ifs. I can't fully untangle the fear of loss from this complex web of love and devotion I hold for my son.
My miracle child, or my science project, depending on who you consult, a boy born four months too soon, who despite dire predictions did survive.
And now he is ten, understanding something as complex as multiplication, but unable to point to the source of his clouds.
And here I am, still, as if my hand is through the hole on the isolette gently resting on his tiny head, hoping, praying, that everything will be OK.
"Mama, I was dreaming about butterflies last night."
I sit on the side of Olive's big girl bed, painted purple by Pop, formerly Nick's great grandfathers.
How many of Olive's relatives have slept atop this solid frame? What were their dreams?
"Tell me about it."
It's a school day and we are behind schedule, as usual, but I put aside my need to get going to listen to my four-year-old daughter's inner mind.
I feel hungry for dreams.
Elias, now ten, has never once articulated a dream. Not a single one.
I ask him often: "Did you have any dreams last night?"
"No." he replies.
And yet he must.
I have heard him talking in his sleep, when we all stay in the loft at David's cabin, but I have not been able to make out the words. If I could guess, there would be a chairlift or an elevator amdist his late-night mumbles.
Olive is just beginning to share her nightly wanderings.
"I was dreaming about caterpillars making chrysalis and then becoming butterflies. And then doing it again and again. Caterpillars then butterflies then back to caterpillars and butterflies."
Her animation wakes me up more than the coffee I hold; and I smile at this girl before me as if seeing her for the first time.
She talks with her hands out in front of her, one for caterpillars, one for butterflies. "Its the life cycle, Mom. Caterpillars, butterflies, caterpillars, butterflies..." Her head sways with her words.
Olive once told me that after she grows up, she will grow down again.
"We all do," she said, with a serious look. This was on the day before her birthday when I said she would never be three again. "Yes, I will. After I reach the top number, I will grow back down, until I'm three again, then two, then one."
(At first she claimed the top number was 61, but when I told her all her grandparents were past this age, we upped it to 100.)
And metaphorically she's right.
We do become young again, once we are old.
And I hope she holds onto this circular vision, keeps it nestled between her ears, alongside her dream of the life cycle of butterflies-- and remembers that everything that truly matters in life is less linear and more spiral.
Not a trajectory to some future point but more of a deepening, a return to a familiar place, like dancing amidst old leaves
If you watch the show you'll know why.
And why I can't stop thinking about the scene of Max Braverman's parents driving him home from the aborted overnight.
If my Aspergers is suppose to make me so smart,
why can't I understand why they laugh at me.
They called me a freak.
And I think I am one.
And more, so much more.
I rained as I watched
with my head on Nick's shoulder,
a tsunami of sorrow,
flood of worry,
avalanche of pain.
And I replay the scene,
replay the scene,
replay the scene...
Roll it like a stone in my pocket.
Finger it with my own need,
of not knowing,
And how to protect him
from scenes like these.
In honor of April as National Autism Awareness month,
Or reach out to a child who may seem a little odd.
Everyone should know Max.
Or someone like him.
This summer we were featured in a video for Neighborworks Anchorage, the non profit organization that helped make our walkway accessible for Elias, and I just realized I never shared it here with all of you.
We are the second story in the video and they return to us at the end as well.
Elias even has a speaking part.
So if you have a moment...
But I'm lucky to be here.
Whole and not broken.
Only a bruise on my leg from the sidkick the moose gave me as it charged my dog. All I saw were hoofs in the air and I thought for a second they were coming down on me.
Thank god for Tonsina,
my part-Lab part-Border Collie running partner who somehow spooked the Mama moose on a single track trail through the woods. I ran behind him, listening to James Brown sing I Got The Feelin', rockin' out on a warm sunny evening, feeling free, after a long few stressful post-spring break days of work, when out of the corner of my eye, I see a large dark figure and in that oh-shit-its-a-mad-moose-moment she is already besides me, hoofs raised.
This is it.
But she's focused on Tonsina, so instead of her 1000 plus pound weight crashing down on me as I dive off the trail, she just flares her leg out and kicks me in the shin before her front hoofs land in the direction of my dog.
Tonz runs back along the trail and the moose turns towards me where I hide in the deeper snow behind a thicket of trees. The hair on her neck stands up and her ears lay back and she stands with one leg still raised as if any moment she could charge again.
And she looks right at me.
I look away. Not wanting to provoke her with eye contact. We are only about 15 feet apart. I try to back up to another tangle of trees but my foot sinks into the snow catching on fallen branches below and I know I can't cross quickly with snow up to my knees, so I opt to stay at my current shelter and hope the moose loses interest in me.
I see a smaller moose behind her eating the branches of an Alder tree and now I realize I got a mad Mama moose staring right at me, with a much meaner look than my meanest mom glare.
And I feel so small.
And this is how it goes, for what feels like fifteen minutes, her left front hoof raised ready to step, her eyes on me, her ears back, hair raised.
Tonsina lays in the trail fifty yards away, he whimpers occasionally, but never barks, as if knowing any aggression on his part would only make matters worse.
I take the headphones out of my ears and my sunglasses off my eyes, wanting, needing, every sense to help keep me alive.
We see so many moose in Anchorage, that we sometimes forget they are dangerous animals. This week alone, we woke to a moose in our yard, walking right past it to get into our car and on a previous run I spotted a moose only twenty feet from the trail and chose to pass it instead of turning back, trusting it was busy eating branches and not interested in me and my black and white dog.
With this Mama moose's eyes locked on me, all I see is a dangerous wild animal.
Trapped behind a small tangle of trees.
I both want and don't want someone else to come walking down the trail. I consider backing up again, but the soft snow on top of brush proves to be another trap, so I have to step back towards the moose to regain my cover of trees.
Please don't see this forward step as aggression, I think, I just want to go in peace.
The second moose walks forward--oh shit not two--but his or her demeanor is relaxed, and the younger moose just nuzzles the Mom, who finally turns away from me.
I take the moment to retreat, making my way through the knee deep snow to another stand of tress. I look back and the Mama moose looks back at me, but this time her ears stand tall and her hair lays flat.
And then she turns away and walks back into the woods.
I make my way back to Tonsina and the trail and run to an intersection where a familiar street is just up a short hill or another wider woods trail turns off to the right, and though part of me wants to sprint back to the safety of pavement and people, I make a conscious choice to stay on the trail, to not let my fear turn this place of solace into something else.
So I keep running, charged on adrenaline, and its not until I finally make it home that I realize how scared I was, how close I came, and how lucky I am to be whole, not broken, and alive.
Happy Friday Everyone!
Remember this moment, I think, as my children laugh together, feet touching, faces aglow.
Hold onto it.
Put it in your purse with their discarded wrappers so when you find yourself on the brink of parental regret, when you feel exhausted and used and frayed beyond repair, you'll remember that sometimes your load is awfully light.
And this too is why I write.
Writing is the rope I cling to as I ascend from the darkness, as well as the frame for moments that just feel so right.
Hold onto it.
Hopefully you read my previous post, Where My Worlds Merge, about our family's participation with Alaska's premier adaptive ski center.
And then you'll understand why we decided, albeit a little late in the game, to participate in Challenge Alaska's Snow Blast.
This is their annual fundraiser, and in order to participate, Nick, Elias, and I each need to raise at least $175 in pledges before Saturday March 29th.
Yes, as I said, we are a little late on the uptake. But hey, we thought we'd try.
That's what we told Elias when they switched him from the bamboo pole to the new ski-eze and he started to resist: "You just gotta try."
And he did.
If you are interested and able to make a tax deductible contribution, please email me at: [email protected]