Friday, July 09, 2010

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light

I found this the other night, as I was laying in bed, idly wandering the interwebs, waiting for sleep to take over. It hit really close to home, and described my feelings perfectly. The sadness I feel because he is not running and playing like other children his age - seeing a child months younger than he is racing around the playground. But that sadness is projected - he is happy to sit and play, he's happy to plunk in the sandbox, or the shallowest part of the wading pool.

I don't know the author, but whoever it is, she's wonderful.

I sit on the park bench, eating cheesy popcorn and watching young children on the playground. I am enjoying the day, the sun on my face, and the smell of fresh grass.

Randomly I think "I wish my child could run and play with these kiddos."

And there it is, the cold hand in my cheesy popcorn; the presence taking up too much space on the park bench, blocking my sunshine. My Grief.

"Really?" I say. "I didn't invite you. Get your hand out of my cheesy corn." Instead, I end up having to scoot over, making more room for my Grief.

Grief comes and goes when I least expect it. I'll be in my car, driving along listening to music and I'll catch it in the corner of my eye, kicking the back of my seat.

"Aww, crap. What are you doing here?"
"It's been a while. I thought I would stop in for a visit."
"Well, make sure you fasten your seatbelt and be quiet. The baby is sleeping and I don't want you to wake him up."
"Can I change the station?"
"Can I play with the window?"
"No, you can just come along for the ride."

So we ride together; fingernails thumping on the dashboard as a reminder of who decided to show up today. Yes, I am quite aware of your presence, you don't need to remind me.

Grief's appearance used to rattle me, send me into the bathroom, crying hysterically, rendering me useless for the day. Sometimes it still does, but as Grief has been established as a consistent visitor in our household, we have drawn up a contract, we have an agreement.

As the mom of a child who does not walk or talk, I will grieve. I will grieve for many dreams that will not come to fruition. I will grieve for a life I thought would be different.

I will grieve at times, and I will not grieve at times. I will laugh at times. I will not laugh at times. Grief can come into our house, but he is not allowed to stay. If allowed to stay, it would devour the corners of our house. It would suck up the oxygen in the room. It would consume me.

And that is not acceptable.

Grief tends to run within the Special Needs community. I bump into him quite often.

"How are you?"
- My daughter has pneumonia. She is in the hospital on a ventilator.

I look around and see Grief, sitting on the couch, smugly picking at dirty fingernails.

And I meet those who sadly keep very, very close company with this unwanted guest. Grief hangs over them like a shroud. It is hard to laugh. It is hard to love. Because in copious amounts, Grief tends to ooze like a nasty, septic wound draining the life from us.

But we still have to laugh, we still have to play, we still have to live. Life carries on.
..and on..
...and on...

I cannot, at the end of my life say "Well, it was long, hard, and I was sad."

Surprisingly, our relationship is not based entirely on conflict. My interactions with Grief have allowed me to see myself entirely raw, unprotected, and exposed. At times I feel that I have lost my skin. Yes, here I am. Be careful, that's my beating heart you see there. Oh no, no, do not touch.

I am no longer afraid to approach others regarding their own tragedies. I bring up the tough conversations. How is your mother? I am sorry or your loss. I am so sorry your daughter is in the hospital. I hug, I cry, I listen. Not because I am uber-sensitive, but because I know Grief travels alone, except when he travels with with his favorites - Isolation and Loneliness.

Sometimes, Grief shows up at a party, drinks my wine, eats my last bite of fudgy dessert. It's an annoyance, really but since Grief is not a constant life guest, I have learned to tolerate the time we spend together. Sometimes, we even enjoy an introspective moment or two.

We have set the rules and sometimes they are followed. We can not have a permanent, impy, uninvited, grievous house guest. We don't have the room. Not in our lives, not in my heart. Life is too short, and despite the bad things that can happen, life is too sweet.


:lauren: said...

I love this. And you. Thank you for sharing it.

Lindsay said...

I get it, love. I've had those gut wrenching cries in the bathroom, and I've been that Mom at the park feeling so horribly sad because my child couldn't talk.