Posts Tagged ‘family’

The Detective

Out of sorts.magnifying glass

Emotional.

Just not right.

Overly dramatic.

Controlling/ bossy.

Out of her groove.

Not herself.

In a mood.

Goofy. <smh>

These are all phrases that I and/or Chloe’s therapist and/or Chloe’s Mimi said about her during her therapy session yesterday afternoon. None of us were frustrated with her. None of us were angry or short-tempered.

But we missed it.

All 3 of us love her and know her well. All 3 of us knew something was up. Was she tired? Not feeling well? Just out of routine since this was the first time to therapy in nearly a month?

We knew it was something. And we all gave her time and we listened. We all comforted and validated.

But we missed it.

Later that night I realized that it was her tummy. Her tummy wasn’t feeling right. She asked for food and more food and more food — much like an infant with tummy trouble. You know… the baby’s tummy feels awful, and he assumes it is because he is starving. Or at least he thinks more milk will help soothe his belly ache. Well, that’s what Chloe was doing so I knew it was her belly.

I got her ready for bed and put her to bed so she could sleep it off.

Then I got a text from her aide at school that she was going to stay home the next day. She was sick with a nasty stomach virus. Her tummy was cramping, she felt miserable, and it hurt to move.

Interesting. I immediately knew that Chloe had the same virus. She was feeling the same way. She didn’t have an attitude at therapy; it just hurt to move. She wasn’t averse to putting her feet on the ground to walk as much as she just wanted to keep her knees tucked up into her tummy where it felt a little more bearable. She didn’t lay back and close her eyes right in the middle of therapy to show that she was in control or to make a statement; she was literally glad to be still and close her eyes for a minute. She wasn’t making up the pain in her shoulder that she was crying about. And she wasn’t forgetting which shoulder was “hurting;” they were both hurting — she was hurting all over.

Poor baby.

We are all 3 lucky she didn’t just smack us across the face for not leaving her alone and letting her go to bed.

detectiveLife with a mostly nonverbal child is challenging. It’s guess-work. Even when I think I know her so well and know what she’s saying even before she “says” it, it is still guess-work at best. I am a constant detective, looking for clues. And I think I’m a darn good one most days. But it’s still guess-work, putting clues together and trying to make them make sense.

I was so happy that Chloe’s school aide was able to put words to how Chloe was feeling. The next morning when I texted the aide to find out how she was feeling (and probably how Chloe, too, was feeling), her answer was, “Like death.” Chloe had told me she felt yucky, but I didn’t realize she was feeling like death. I guess I’ll up my sympathy and carry on. ❤

Our Castle

Recently while driving home after having gathered the kids from school one afternoon, Zippy surveyed our van and smiled. Then in a self-reflective way, he slowly thought aloud, “This is like our little house, isn’t it?” He was referring to our van.

Strewn around in the van were backpacks filled with books and homework, shoes and socks that are always stripped off after barely getting the van door closed, snacks and empty snack wrappers, and a variety of office supplies and beauty supplies–because I tend to keep my car stocked with supplies we may need at some point.

“Yeah, this is like a little house for us, isn’t it?” he repeated, his wheels still turning.

We had each other, we had entertainment that we enjoyed pouring from the speakers of the van, and we had comfortable furniture to relax in. That sounds like a house…like a home.

Even though I had already twice agreed with him that, yes, this van is like our little house, he repeated his thought again because that’s what he does. “This is like our little house. We could live in here. Especially if the wheelchair wasn’t in the back.”

Our van keeps us warm in the winter, cool in the summer, dry whenever it ever decides to rain in Texas, and shields us from the sun and other elements. It is one of our safe havens where we spend more time than most families probably do.

“Elliot and I could sleep in the back even,” he continued thinking.

I agreed every time and smiled with him every time. It was like a little house. It had everything we really needed.

But in the end, Zippy decided he’s glad we don’t live in our van. He’s pleased that we have a much bigger house than our van is. In fact, comparatively, our house is a castle.

So, yeah, we’re both glad we have a castle to live in. 🙂

 

A Birthday Celebration

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A birthday is certainly cause for balloons.

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Today was my dad’s first birthday since he died 4 months ago.

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The kids and I commemorated by writing love notes on balloons.

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“Happy Birthday!”

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“I love you!”

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“I miss you!”

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“I wish you were here!”

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“HBD”

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“I love you, Papa!”

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We took them outside….

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And then we counted down. 3-2-1-Go!

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And set the balloons off up to heaven.

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Happy birthday, Papa!

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We love you!

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Just … Forever Ago

Four months ago today, I prank called my dad when I called to wish my mom a happy birthday. Faking a weird accent, I asked to speak to the birthday girl. He didn’t understand my words and asked me to repeat them. I repeated them, but my accent mixed with my fighting back laughter made him unable to understand me. He declared that he could not understand what I said, apologized, and hung up on me before I could identify myself.

Later when I called back and confessed that I was actually the accented caller, we both laughed and laughed. “You got me! You sure got me!” he kept saying, tickled at himself for not knowing it was his own daughter being silly. He couldn’t wait to tell Mom the story. He got such a kick out of it.

After we laughed about the prank call, he told me he loved me, called me Baby, and hung up the phone.

It would be the last conversation I ever had with my dad.

The last “I love you, Baby.”

The last shared laughter.

And one last memory of a man I love very much.

It seems like an eternity ago. But it seems like just last week. How can that be?

It was the last time I heard his voice. And as usual, he made sure to let me know that he loved me, that he’s my greatest fan, that he believed in me, that he enjoyed me, … that he thought I was funny.

So many times in the last 4 months, I’ve wanted to call him to tell him about what’s going on. I’ve yearned to talk to him, knowing he would have some advice or encouragement for me. I’ve missed his too-loud smooch in my ear each time I leave Mom and Dad’s house.

I miss that man.

All in a Day’s Work

How do you prioritize when everything is ultimately important? when everything is #1?blue #1

How do you choose to spend your time when the whole list consists of urgent items?

Do you choose to breathe first or to make your heart beat first? They’re both critical.

That’s how I feel with trying to prioritize what to focus on with Chloe. How do I spend my time and energy when the needs are all so great? Where do I start? Where do I begin? Where do I focus?

Communication is #1 because everything else depends on it. If Chloe doesn’t have a way to communicate her wants and needs…if she can’t relate and give her opinion then what??

But her legs working enough to walk across the room is #1. Remaining functional enough to be on her feet when she wants to be is vital. It’s a skill and ability that we are fighting to keep. The battle against her tightening, weakening legs is one we have to fight with gusto.

black #1Her performing and succeeding in school is also #1. If she’s not successful in school, then her teachers won’t take her seriously. If we don’t work to find ways for Chloe to express what she knows…if we don’t empower her with the ability to express her knowledge, then how…how…? So this ever-growing pile of homework is top priority.

But what about practicing and exceeding in cello? It’s imperative that she grow her talent. It will allow her to be part of a “team” in orchestra in junior and high school. She loves it; she’s good at it. Her playing music speaks to people …speaks to her.

Independence and growing in work/chores/responsibility has to be #1. Self-feeding, personal hygiene skills — It’s those huge skills that will lead her to independence in life. Those skills will pave the way for self-care later in life. It’s ultra important for Chloe’s success.

Encouraging and growing her friendships should be a high priority. She has friends who love and enjoy her; inviting friends over and helping those relationships grow are key. Friendships will deter loneliness.

I. Can’t. Do It. All. There are 24 hours in the day.

What do you do when they’re all a #1 priority?

 

Beautiful New Body

Recently, conversations about heaven, about loss, about death have been more common than before around our house. With the loss of my dad, my kids’ Papa, have come conversations and thoughts that before were unfamiliar to us. And, frankly, didn’t matter as much to us.

When Zippy recently talked about heaven and the new bodies we will receive when we leave these tired, for-earth bodies behind, he made me smile at his confidence and self-love.

“I hope the new body God gives me will still have brown skin.”

And with that one comment, I smiled knowing that we have succeeded (for now) in making him proud of himself and of his race and of his body. Maybe gone are the days of his wishing away his dark complexion so he could look more like his family.

While I know transracial adoption will continue to throw difficult issues at us and at him, I was encouraged with his confidence. And, yes, I smiled. And I agreed that I hoped for the same thing – I hoped for him a new body with beautiful deep dark skin when that day comes.

Sweet family moments. Sweet moments with my son for whom I’m forever, forever grateful. A quick peek into his soul — his beautiful, innocent soul.

Mourning Loss

Three weeks ago, our little lives on this humongous planet were altered forever. Three weeks ago today, my dad had a massive stroke. And we were forced to say “Goodbye” to an amazing man — way earlier than we ever imagined.

My dad. You know him as Papa, and he’s a major commenter on this blog. He’s my greatest fan, and always has been. He and my mom have been my cheerleaders, my supporters, my encouragers, my friends. If you’re interested in getting to know him, choose a post on this blog and peruse the comments. You’ll learn quickly how much he adored me and how much he adored Chloe and my boys and my whole family. He was passionate. His comments here always made me smile and made me stand a little taller.

Emotions have always been difficult for Chloe. She has made improvements in recent years and has learned to enjoy some happy emotions of her own and of others. But she still tries to hide from anyone’s strong emotions. They are just too much to process. I think she feels them in a crazy exaggerated way, more than you and me.

She quickly grasped the fact that her Papa was in Heaven; in fact, she sweetly flew one of her stuffed dogs up in the air to show me that she knew where Papa was. Probably she doesn’t really understand the finality of death — but I don’t think I really do either. Maybe we just accept the finality a little bit at a time, and then when we are ready for it…a little bit more.

After joining lots of friends and extended family at Mimi’s house the first day following my dad’s death, Chloe had had enough. While she didn’t experience anyone having a big ol’ ugly cry in front of her, the emotion was clear to her. There was activity, there was laughter, there were tears, there was sadness, there was rejoicing, there were hugs… It was a lot for a little girl who stands ready to explode with emotion even in an everyday situation.

The next day she made it clear to me that she did NOT want to go back to Mimi’s house. She banged and banged and banged her little hand on the floor and signed and yelled, “Home! Home! Home! Home!” I allowed her to stay at home and grieve in her own way. For 2 days she asked to stay at home and in her room where it was quiet and peaceful and predictable…but where she was still very aware of Papa’s passing and of everyone’s emotions, including her own.

Then the next couple of days, she needed to be with the family as we offered visitation for friends and then celebrated my dad’s life the following day (another post for another day!!). A good friend of mine came and accompanied Chloe for those 2 big events, and Chloe did beautifully. To most observers, it appeared that Chloe wasn’t paying attention and was in her own world, but on several occasions, she proved otherwise — she listened, heard, and understood every word spoken.

In the weeks following the service, my mom’s house has been a revolving door for loved ones and friends who have taken good care of us during a very difficult time. And I somehow forgot to be sure that Chloe’s emotional needs were met. We were on the go and at my mom’s house and entertaining and shopping and playing games and loving on family day and night. I dragged Chloe with me nearly everyday without thinking much about it. But finally (thankfully) I realized that I was pushing her way beyond her limits, and she was very, very stressed out.

I slowed our pace and tried to make her (and Zippy who didn’t seem to be quite as stressed) needs my number one priority as I should have done all along. She has remained very fragile and stressed ever since. I think she’s improving and recovering, but I allowed her stress level to get high, and she needs time to rest and recover. I feel terribly about it, but I’m trying to fix it.

I may never know exactly the emotions my girl felt or feels today about her Papa’s death. And as I said, I’m not even sure of my own emotions in all of this. But it has been an important reminder that I need to remember that my little family has limits that need to always be respected. It must be my priority to protect and care for my family at all times — especially in times of great need like we’ve had these past 3 weeks.

I vow to do a better job at it–even in the midst of my own pain– as a mom must do.

Dad would surely leave a comment below telling me not to be so hard on myself…that I did a great job, considering…that he’s thankful for me and so proud of the mother I am. He would type it in all caps and use lots of exclamation points. He would probably remind me how good God is and how special my family is. He would tell me that loves me and possibly quote a scripture or a worship song for good measure. It was just his way.

I’ll consider his comment posted and approved. 🙂

Thanks for your constant approval and praise, Dad. We love you and miss you terribly.  ❤

 

Papa <3

 

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