Monday, May 30, 2011

My Many Marathons

It’s been a week and a day since our friend, Bruce, died in a biking accident in Japan.  His wife, Maryann, is a dear friend of mine.  We’ve been skyping every few days since last Saturday.   Maryann is coping as well as can possibly be expected, but it’s still really hard.  She told me that I could post a link to her blog:  It started out as a blog about her new life in Japan as a chaplain's wife but ...clearly God had different plans.
I don’t think the reality of his death has totally hit home over here. We have the ability to make so many choices in this day and age, it’s hard to clue-in that this is something I cannot change. I keep nodding my head and thinking, “surely not,” as though God offered some sort of plan-for-our-life and I can accept or reject it in the same way I pick out a new couch and then change my mind and take it back.  
I also kept wondering, "WHEN will I stop CRYING?" Then, about the third day in, I realized that I won't stop crying. Maybe I’ll stop crying on the outside, but I’ll always be crying on the inside about this one.  It is going to be unbearably painful for a long, long time; not a temporary sorrow, but rather a permanent addition to our life.  Sort of like realizing that I’m in a race that I thought was a sprint, but is really a marathon.  For some reason, this realization made me feel better.    Not that I want this addition by any stretch, but now that I realize what we're in for, I'm better able to handle it and not looking for the finish line around every corner.   So, still crying, but no longer surprised over all my tears….(although, I do wonder, simply as a matter of VOLUME, how many tears a person can cry.  You’d think I’d get dehydrated at some point and just stop). 
Maryann spoke at her husband’s memorial service on Thursday, May 26th.  She posted her text on her blog the next day.  The funeral will be June 18th in Williamsburg and the burial is June 20th at Arlington National Cemetery. I've been so fortunate up until now, not to have lost anyone. I had NO IDEA how difficult a Memorial Day Weekend could be.  Yesterday a veteran offered me a poppy outside Sam's Club and it nearly killed me. I took it, but I couldn't even get a "thank you" out, just a teary eyed nod. I wish God would give some sort of warning, so I would know I'm about to get smacked in the face with stuff like that.
In the meantime, the people around me are living their lives, the sun is rising and setting and time is passing, regardless of whether I am noticing or participating.
The boys  have sort of switched roles in our household.  Will used to be the extremely difficult child and Ruslan –actually, he was difficult as well, but he was slightly less difficult than Will.  However, they have officially switched places.  Will has suddenly become relatively easy and cute, cute, cute.  When he first came, we were dealing with so many fundamental issues (like starvation) that I think he could really only focus on eating.  After that, it was potty training, then leg braces to get used to , then eye surgery, then he got a killer sinus infection and a few bangs on the head, plus the new language he had to learn.  Poor baby.  It was always something!!  However, in the past few weeks, he has really come out of his shell.  He’s been talking almost non-stop.  I can’t understand what is going on in there, but he clearly does have SOME grey matter to work with. 
On the one hand, he still cannot get concepts like, “Is Will a boy or a girl?”  He’s finally accepted that, “Will is a boy,” but I am certain this is just a matter of rote memory on his part because if I ask him about ANY other person in the family or neighborhood, he usually gets it wrong, even when the odds are 50/50!   We also have baby gates everywhere because he is still bound and determined to get into “off limits” rooms, and still totally obsessed with water and dumps it on the floor every chance he gets.  Certain circuits are simply NOT connected.
On the other hand, Will is either cluing into some other higher level concepts, or he’s just taking “cuteness” lessons.  He smiles ALL THE TIME.  He has picked up a slew of our family slang like, “how about” for “would you like,” and  “actually” for “you’re wrong,” and “STOP NOYIN ME!”  for “go away.”  Plus,  I was sitting at our window seat yesterday and he climbed up with me, put his hands on my arm and said,
“Mama.”  (tap, tap) “Mama, I want to say, 'Thank You' to  God.” 
I said, “that’s a great idea.  What should we say, ‘Thank You,’ to God for?”
“I want to say thank you to God for DADDY… and for JUMPIN.” 
So, Will held my hand and I said, “Thank you God for Daddy and for jumping.” And then he gave me a kiss and scooted down off the seat and walked away.
Ruslan, for his part, has become so hard to be around that….well, no one wants to be around him.  I’ve been trying to pin point what it is that makes that child SO difficult and the truth is, it’s not his disability, it’s his personality.  I consider this to be my problem.  As his mom, it’s really my job to teach him how to act.  Right now, he has NO IDEA.  We are working with years and years of reinforced helplessness, whining, habitual demanding, and a huge emotional deficit.  It’s really hard to live with.   I've been working on a blog draft called, "I Have Reactive Attachment Disorder" that spells it all out.  Things are actually getting better, slowly, but it’s a long haul.  

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