Bird Number Two

6 Comments

 

Our mud room is full of stuff once again.  Almost as soon as we loaded all of Luke’s belonging into the car for the trip to Milwaukee, Andrew started hauling his boxes down for the trip to Chicago.  Tomorrow is his last day home.  Of course, he will be back to visit and for holidays, but I wonder if he will ever call this house home again.  No, this won’t be easy, but it is time.  I am excited for him.  I envy him the experience and promise that lies before him.  What a lucky kid!  He is following his dream, and I hope he hangs on tightly to that dream.

I have always known that Andy had a solid purpose on this earth.  I’ve never known what that purpose is.  I still don’t, but that’s not what is important.  Of course, we ALL have a purpose here.  We are all meant to be, but as Andrew’s mother, I have always known that Andrew was meant to be born.  Hard to explain…

Grace Elizabeth was born 12 weeks early.  She was beautiful and perfect, but she was so tiny.  She fought for her life for 17 days until pneumonia entered the picture, and the fight was over.  She was born quickly.  I gave birth to her suddenly and at home.  We weren’t expecting her for weeks.  We weren’t ready, and she wasn’t ready.  None of it made any sense.  What purpose did this fulfill?

A month or so after Grace’s death, I found out that I was pregnant again.  It was Andy.  It was a miracle.  After trying for two years to get pregnant, I was suddenly and unexpectedly going to have another baby.  So soon.  Maybe too soon the doctors said.  It wasn’t an easy pregnancy.  I was grieving.  At the same time, I was excited.  As the difficult milestone of Grace’s due date approached, I was already pregnant.  It was a mind-twisting mix of emotions.  Nine months after Grace’s death, my healthy baby boy was born.

Many times I have wondered if Andrew and Grace passed beside each other on their way from one place to another.  He floated in as she was floating out.  Anyone who has ever held a newborn baby has seen the sweet “involuntary” smiles they make in their sleep.  I have always thought that it was the voice of angels whispering in their ears that are responsible for those smiles.  As my sweet baby Andrew grew, there were times when I wondered at his existence.  If Grace had not been born early, Andrew would never have been conceived.  It would not have been possible if I had carried Grace to term.

Twelve years later, he was almost taken from me.  One of the most powerful moments I ever experienced in my life was on the day of his accident.  Andrew had been wheeled out of surgery.  The doctor had come into the “Special Horrified Family Room” to talk to us.  Andrew was in a coma.  The doctor said things I didn’t understand.  Frontal Lobe Injury/personality changes.  Profuse bleeding.  Orbital fractures.  External Fixator.  Respirator.  Echo cardiogram.  The doctor said that Andrew would probably not live.  If he did live, then he would most likely be profoundly handicapped.

No, I didn’t think I was going to let that happen.  I walked away from it all, my husband, the doctor, the crying grandparents, the friends who had gathered for the death vigil.  I walked away.  I went into the bathroom and stood in a stall behind a closed door.  I was furious.  No-Fucking-Way was my son going to die.  No way was my son going to be damaged.  No-Fucking-Way.  It was unthinkable.  I had lost Grace.  Andrew wasn’t even supposed to be here.  His birth and conception should not have happened….but they did.  No one was going to tell me that at 12 years old it was all over.  No.  For once, thankfully, I was right.  If it was the only time my hard-headed belief was ever right, then that’s OK.

I could write volumes on what came next.  Yes, Andrew’s recovery was a challenge.  It was a struggle and a fight.  Andrew and I fought together.  I pushed.  I advocated.  I demanded.  I made him mad.  I made other people mad.  It was all worth it.  ALL OF IT.

Ten years later, the accident and the fight and work of his recovery is in the distant past.  If you met Andrew, you would see nothing unusual.  If you didn’t know, and no one chose to tell you, you would never know that he was injured so badly that the doctors were ready to give him up for dead.  What would you see if you met Andrew?  You would see a young man who is excited about moving out of his parents’ home to attend his “dream school,” as he calls it.  He is well-spoken and well-read.  He’s a fantastic musician.  He talks a lot.  He has a wonderful sense of humor…just like my Dad.  He is so much like my dad.

I love all of my children with all of my heart.  They are my joy and my life.  But Andrew is something else, too.  I’m not sure if I can explain it sufficiently.  He was born out of my loss.  He brought happiness into my time of grieving.  He saved my life more than once, but that is another story.  Would he be here if not for my determination not to allow him to die?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  That isn’t what is important.

In two days, I will let go.  This time, I will allow him to leave to find his way on his own.  He will find his purpose, and I will be left behind with a smile on my face and a heart full of joy.  I have been honored to have this young man in my life.  I have learned so much in life by being his mother.  Even before his birth, when he was nestled beneath my heart, he brought me joy and a strength that I never knew I could possess.

I am excited to watch as the next chapter of my son’s life unfolds.  This time I am not holding him or holding his hand, but the bond of our hearts remains.

Updates and Observations

9 Comments

Milwaukee.  It’s been a very busy few days since my last post.  One son is packed off to school.  It was a good trip, a good day.  Luke was so darn happy to be back at school and to see his roommates again.  They are such a great group of boys.  Ah, but they couldn’t wait to get rid of the parents!  Just watching them made me happy for the future of this world.  Youth, dreams, ambition, kindness, laughter.  It is such a good feeling to see my son in a place that fits him well and with people that he so obviously likes.  This year there is something new at Marquette for Luke.  His girlfriend is a student there this year as well.   She’s in the same dorm two floors down.  I wonder how he feels about this.  I wonder how they will handle it.  Luke enjoyed a year of freedom on campus.  It will certainly be a period of adjustment for them both, and I am staying OUT OF IT.  We enjoyed the afternoon in Milwaukee.  The bustle of the campus was exhilarating.  It was impossible not to get caught up in the spirit of the day.  We enjoyed a lunch with Luke and his girlfriend before heading out on our trip to Chicago.

T and I in Chicago.  How long had it been since he and I were anywhere alone and together?  Surprisingly, (even to me!)  I have decided not to share very much about our night and day alone.  I’m not sure why I don’t feel the need or desire to write about it in detail.  Maybe the details aren’t really clear in my own mind yet.  I will say this, though.  There was nothing at all wrong with our time alone.  It was full of friendship, gentleness, conversation, and caring.  I felt SAFE and cared for, which is something I have not felt in a very long time.

Brush with Fame.  T and I were heading towards Michigan Avenue and to the beautiful little park/garden where I have spent many hours crying.  Moments earlier, I had decided to stop into a deli and buy a lobster salad sandwich.  (This detour is an important detail!)  It was delicious, luscious lobster on a croissant, and I was munching big mouthfuls of pleasure as we walked along.  We stood waiting for the light to change so that we could cross.  As we stood waiting, a guy was working the crowd trying to get money.  He had a good spiel.  Either give him a dollar or according to him, you would be required to skip across the street.  Mostly, everyone was ignoring him.  When the light changed, he led the way skipping across the street.  One guy, the guy next to me, started skipping along behind him.  It made me smile.  It was a little round short guy.  His wife was laughing by his side.  Something was strangely familiar about them.  It was Danny DeVito with his wife, Rhea Perlman.  Seriously!!  I grabbed T by the back of the shirt and gestured wildly.  I think for a moment he thought I was choking on the lobster salad.  T wasn’t certain, so he followed them right into the art museum.  I sat there under one of my favorite lions waiting for him to come back outside.  He was grinning from ear to ear.  It really, really was them.  If I hadn’t stopped for my lobster salad, we would never have had our brush with fame.  Ah….good follows good!

And My Mother.   I was standing on the sidewalk in front of Luke’s dorm next to a huge pile of stuff.  T had gone to park the car.  Luke had gone to find a wheeled cart.  I was alone when my phone rang.  It was the hospital.  My mom had been admitted.  It was the same, continuing problem.  She was stable and resting comfortably.  I stood there for a moment and weighed it all out.  What should I do?  What was required of me?  It didn’t take long.  Today I was a mother before I was a daughter.  Today my job was to be there for my son, not to be running back to the side of my mother.  The nurse had said she was fine.  There was nothing I could do.  There was no imminent danger.  Should we skip the trip to Chicago?  Should I rush back home to see my mom and “do the right thing?”  No, this time with T was important, too.  We had both been looking forward to relaxing for a day.  We needed a break from the stress of our lives.  Rushing back to my mother’s side would only add a little bit more stress and accomplish nothing at all.  The next morning, I received another call from the hospital.  I was immediately scared.  I feared the worst.  What if she had died while I was out having a night on the town??  Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.  She had a nurse call me to make sure that I knew she was in the hospital.  She had thought I would come rushing back home.  I asked the nurse if I was needed.  “Oh, no!!  She is doing fine.  She just needed to be rehydrated.  She’ll be out in a day or so.”

As T and I drove home, I gave my mother a call.  I wondered if I should call her cell phone or try to find the number for the hospital.  I didn’t think she must have her cell phone with her.  Otherwise, why was she having hospital staff call me?  T said to give her cell a try, “You know how your mother is.  She will have wanted to get maximum mileage out of this.”  So I called her cell, and guess what?  She answered it!!  She DID have her cell phone with her!  I was shocked.  She was doing fine, and I told her that we would be there to visit on Sunday.  She was upset that we hadn’t cut our trip short since she was in the hospital.  I remained calm and cheerful.  I told her that I had considered coming back, but the hospital had assured me that she was in good hands.  There was no need.  There was nothing I could do.

Today, with a half-million things that I needed to do, I went to visit my mother.  I stopped and bought a card and a plant before heading over to the hospital.  She was doing fine.  She’ll be released in a day or two.  Andrew and T went along with me.  We had so many errands to run on this one day off before we move Andrew to Chicago.  We had to buy bedding, household supplies, and groceries.  After leaving the hospital, we started shopping and checking things off of our long list.  We were in the first store for about ten minutes when my phone rang.  It was my mother.  “You need to come back.  I need you to run over to my apartment.  I need you to pick up a few things for me.”

I was in shock.  We had just been there.  Why hadn’t she told me while I had been there?  Her apartment building is attached by a corridor to the hospital!  We could have walked over there in less than five minutes.  Now we were a twenty minute drive away.  What did she need?  Instead of continuing my complaints I’ll just say that she needed nothing  important.  Once again, I was firm.  I told her that I couldn’t come back today.  We had too many things to do.  I reminded her that Andrew was moving in four days.  T and I have to work all week.  We had to accomplish what we could today.  I told her that I would try to make time to stop by tomorrow during my lunch hour.  Ugh….

Changes and Discoveries.  What I am beginning to discover is that I am pretty easy to jerk around.  I give too much.  I forgive too easily.  Too many people want too many things from me.  When I don’t do things exactly the way those around me expect, then people are mad at me.  I feel like a pawn in too many lives.  The girls were mad because their father and I spent the night in Chicago and didn’t take them along (even though we left money for pizza and they had a fun night.)  Andrew was mad that I was cleaning last night, because he wanted to watch something on TV with me.  As soon as we walked in the door from our mini-trip, I went about unpacking, cleaning, and doing laundry.  T played slots online.

I could feel the cloak of stress fall all around me within the first hour of being home.  I called T upstairs and tried to explain it to him.  I told him all that I was feeling, and I asked him, “Who takes care of me?  Who really cares about me?”  It seems like everyone around me wants something from me.  They want me to take care of them.  They want me to make them feel good.  Most of the time, I feel inadequate.  There are too many of them, and only one of me.  I come up short every time.  No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I give, no matter what I do, it is never enough.  No one is ever satisfied, and most of all, I am drowning in all of it.  I am sinking quickly.

Maybe he gets it.  Maybe not.  We’ll see…

Uh Oh, Here I Go…

3 Comments

 

The tears have started.  Oh, this is not going to be easy.  As I drove home tonight, I realized that this marks the end of another day.  This means that I had one less day to go home and see my boys draped (largely) around the house.  Suddenly, none of the things that have bugged me over the past few months (years!) seem to matter.  I WANT to go home and see six cars in the driveway.  I want four TV’s on.  I want the house bustling with kids.  I want to hear “Yuck” when I’m asked what I’m cooking for dinner.  I want those piles of big shoes in the mudroom.  I don’t want a neat, tidy, and quiet life without the boys around.  I want one of them in the living room watching a History Channel documentary while the other one is downstairs playing the guitar.  Soon, and I know it now, there will be way too much quiet around here.

I cried all the way home.  I tried to hide it when I walked in the door, but I foolishly broke down the moment I walked in.  There were my big boys, snide remarks and all, waiting for their mother to come in from the garage.  I walked in and broke down in a mess of crying and laughing all at the same time.  They’ve been expecting this.  T announced, “Ah, I knew it was coming.”  Luke said, “Oh, I’m heading into the living room.”  Andrew said, “Don’t worry, Mom.  You are welcome to bring a pillow and a blanket and crash in my tub anytime.”  I stood there laughing and crying all at the same time.

I tried to tempt them away from their plans.  Do they really need to grow up already?  I told them that I have a plan.  I thought it would be a blast to build a giant sandbox in the back yard.  I’d be willing to quit my job, and we could play with bulldozers again all day long.  They just laughed….although, I know for a moment that they thought it sounded like fun!  These next few days will be difficult and bittersweet.  I envy them their youth and excitement.  I am so proud of them, and they are straining at the bit to get this show on the road.

T and I are going to try to make this as easy, and as much fun, as possible.   Wait, I should say that after a “discussion,” T and I have decided to make this as much fun as possible.  Yesterday, he suggested that we drive Luke to Milwaukee and back home all in the same day.  Then…he suggested that we sleep over in Andy’s apartment the following weekend.  Yeah, I about flipped out!  I couldn’t believe that he wanted to just treat this as a serviceable job.  Take the boys.  Do what was necessary.  Turn around and drive home.  No, I wasn’t going to let that happen.  It’s time for things to change, and I told T as much.

I have had fun in Chicago with our daughters.  I have had fun in Chicago with Andrew.  Now I am determined to teach T how to have fun, too.  Thankfully, as I flipped out and told him that we were going to have fun, he began to smile.  Andrew’s apartment is ONE ROOM.  I am way too old to crash on the floor!  It was just a minor bump in the road to loving each other again.  We quickly agreed to make plans to spend time together on these trips to take our sons to school.

We are both taking the day off on Friday.  We’ll take Luke to Milwaukee and then head over to Chicago.  T hasn’t seen the neighborhood where Andrew will live.  We’ve decided to park our car and explore a bit.  Then we’re going to check into a hotel for the night and enjoy some moments of adult time without kids around.  I’m looking forward to hanging out and relaxing.  This is going to be a good step in the right direction for us.

These next few weeks are going to be crazy.  The Tuesday after we take take Luke to Milwaukee, I will head back to Chicago for a class.  I’ll be there all week.  I won’t even be home to help Andrew pack.  T and Andrew will head to the city on Thursday for moving day.  I will only be in class until noon that day, so I will be ready to help with moving day by the time they get to the city.  I am extending my stay, and T and I will once again spend some time alone in the city.

This is all going to take some careful planning.  We are moving our boys away from home.  At the same time, we have our continuing responsibilities at work.  Things are hectic and busy.  Boxes are everywhere.  We’re feeling stressed out,  but we’re also entering a new phase of our lives.  For the first time in decades, we are going to be able to get to know each other once again.  I’m actually looking forward to it.  I’ve written about my sad Chicago walks, and I am excited to bring T along on my path.  It will feel good to have a friend by my side.  It will feel so good not to walk alone.

 

Overtired and Overwhelmed

3 Comments

I’m back from my trip to Springfield and the State Fair.  All in all, I probably walked twenty miles while I was gone.  My organization was part of a display for our state government’s booth.  Of course, we had to park about two miles away from the building where we would be working.  There was no way we could carry our display materials, so we made the half-hour jaunt and then begged someone for a golf cart to carry our stuff to the building.  It was inconsiderate and  half-assed planning by the state gov.  Ha!  Just what I was expecting.  Par for the course.

Maybe it was my bad attitude, but I just didn’t enjoy much of anything about the trip.  I wanted to be home.  Now that I’m home, I don’t want to be here very much, either.  I guess you could say that I am frustrated on all levels right now.  I’m being pulled in so many directions simultaneously.  No one thinks that I’m doing enough for them.  Everyone needs something from me.  No one is giving a damn thing back in return.

T was mad at me from the moment I got back home from this trip.  He had wanted me to drive back on Friday night.  That would have meant that I wouldn’t have gotten home until around 10:00 p.m., so I decided to stay the extra night and catch up on my sleep.  I knew that if I returned home Friday night, I would unpack, do laundry, straighten up the house, etc., and I would be worn out.  I went to bed early on Friday night (in my hotel room) and headed home on Saturday morning.  Guess what?  It was all waiting for me.  They all survived.  Still, he’s not happy with me for not doing things his way.

Today was spent on laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, changing sheets, and visiting my mother.  She’s not happy with me, either.  Other people have company everyday. Other people get to go out and do things with their family. Other people take their mother out for Sunday brunch.  Ugh….I wish I could be other people!  I need to be more than one person!  I reminded my mom that other people have more than ONE child to do things for them.  Other people’s children may not be trying to raise four kids and work full time.

One bit of good news, but it is overwhelming me at the present moment.  Andrew was accepted into the school in Chicago.  Now we have to find a place for him to live by September 1.  I’m so excited for him, but I have no idea how to begin looking for an apartment from 190 miles away.  I don’t know the first damn step to take.  I feel like a helpless hillbilly.  To top it all off, T isn’t being very helpful with this, either.  I will probably have to take some time off from work later this week and head to the city with Andrew.

Lola and Emily start back to school on Tuesday.  They have asked if I’m going to take the “first day” off work so I can take Lola to class and hear all about their days when they come home that afternoon.  Impossible, but I am going to try to sneak of couple of hours in the morning so that I can take Lola to Third Grade.

Luke wonders when I can take him shopping to buy what he needs to go back to school in Milwaukee.  He returns on August 26.  Wonder how he’s going to get back to school???

Tomorrow I have a board meeting.  Tuesday I  am speaking at Kiwanis during my lunch hour and at City Council in the evening.

I need a haircut.

I’m worn out and unhappy.  I wish I had a clone and the real me could crawl into bed and pull the covers up over my head.