“He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness… Live, then and be happy beloved children of my heart and never forget that… all human wisdom is summed up in these two words – wait and hope.” -Alexandre Dumas
As I arrived at school to volunteer in Luke’s class last month, I was excited to find Joel’s preschool class on their way back from the gym. My little man was bringing up the rear of the line in a gait trainer (supportive walker; if you’re not familiar, see pic below) and stepped over to greet me with arms outstretched. (Sporting the sumo-style ponytail on top of his head that reminded me I really needed to get his hair cut…why didn’t I take a picture? It’s hilarious!)
I greeted those sweeties and went on my way. But I paused and turned at the end of the hall because I’m really quite impressed/amazed at how well Joel is taking steps now. I wanted to see how he made the turn down the preschool hall, and instead I witnessed a coup. As the class made the turn, I saw that one of Joel’s BFF’s made a dash down the first grade hallway which sent the fabulous Miss L chasing after her. In the mere seconds that Miss L wasn’t at his side, Joel turned the gait trainer 180 degrees and took off for the office. (The office is a wonderland of doors, cabinets, desks, and smiling faces…heaven for Joel!)
It was all I could do to not shout down the hall, “GO JOEL, GO!!!!” as I gaped at this child who suddenly can step/hop/glide in certain devices. For me, this is bigger than an inchstone…it’s taken two years of trialing, working, and bribing. But now he’s getting it, and I am shocked.
“Shocked” pretty much sums up the last several months of our lives. This weekend marks five years since my mom’s passing, an astonishingly abrupt ending to her valiant 5+ year battle with colon cancer. Now my dad has been gone three months following a sharp, fierce decline caused by an irregular heartbeat which lead to a stroke. He lingered for several weeks but wasn’t himself and slipped away a few days before Thanksgiving. I have often thought losing my mother was like losing all the air in my atmosphere. She was/is so much a part of my being that I occasionally found/still find it hard to breathe. Now I feel as if the ground beneath me has crumbled at the loss of my dad. It’s something you don’t question, right? There is always earth to catch you, hold you up. But I find myself stumbling, not quite sure how the world can keep spinning on its axis if my dad isn’t making pizza and watching movies. (Shoot-’em-ups, as he would say…can’t believe how sad I am when I see a promo for a new action movie.)
But joy and pain have become so intertwined in our lives that there is always a flip side. Our boys keep growing, learning, and moving forward every day. And once again I have no idea how I’d climb out of the grief chasm without their sunny faces. Luke is now six years old, reading all over the place, and steadily improving his writing. I certainly don’t remember writing full sentences in Kindergarten, much less making books! He’s losing teeth, making new friends, and plotting a Lego revolution. He is obsessed with facts about animals and will share with (lecture) anyone within ear shot. In fact, his teacher mentioned that she has stopped wondering if he is correct because he usually is!
And our sweet baby is now four, with a whole new attitude and level of determination.
Joel is marking off some major inchstones in communication, vocalizing more sounds and mimicking speech patterns more frequently. We are also in the preliminary stages of teaching him (and ourselves) to use an ipad app for communication. I am fascinated by the world of AAC (Augmentative & Alternative Communication) as part of Joel’s total communication package. Seeing the look of relief on his face when I present a board or the ipad gives me a lump in my throat every time. We know he has so much to say, and I feel like we are on the path to helping him let it out. I am amazed.
“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” -Seneca
We have family who are our true friends and friends who are like family. We are so very blessed by our village. Thank you, xo.