Friday, October 23, 2009


Every time I sit down to write something, the words won't come. The thoughts are there, too many, jumbled, almost competing to see who makes it first on the screen. No one wins. I don't write because I feel overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that the effort to write outweighs the benefit of just getting it all out of me.

I will write about yesterday. God, it was a gorgeous day. Yesterday was what I'd call a goodbye to both summer and fall. The temperatures were glorious...I'd have to say in the mid-seventies, and the foliage was at its peak. In the night, winds blew more leaves off the trees and I'd say we are heading past peak now. A bunch of people from MOPS went to Foster Farm in South Windsor. I showed up late with Ethan because I wasn't sure if he'd be too interested in the hay ride. So there we were at Foster Farm, in the glorious weather, under the deep blue sky, with a few of the reds and oranges and yellows of maples, and there were several times I just wanted to stop and breathe deep and drink in the beauty of it all. There are so many times I feel as if I just have to stop and at least whisper to God, "thank you."

And there were cows there, and sheep and a turkey and chickens and Ethan was so cute wanting to look at them, and I was so proud of that. Proud and a little frustrated, because he only wanted to look at the animals or crawl through a few tunnels, and I couldn't get him over to where most of the MOPS people were. But then I wondered if I wanted to go over there, because my insides are all over the place.

I feel a sense of "other-ness" sometimes. The feeling grows stronger when I am with people with perfectly healthy children. I love their kids and I don't fault them for complaining about little things (don't we all sometimes?), but when I sit there for too long I start to get this ache. This especially happens when I see kids Ethan's age who are starting to speak in sentences. I get this ache and my head starts to throb a bit and I feel like I'm breathing shallow breaths. I'm barely breathing, and tasting something bitter in my mouth, and what I'm really doing is trying to shrug the weight off. The weight is...not so much the knowing about what is going on with Ethan. It's more like...refusing to accept a burden of shame I lived with, growing up. The burden said, "You're different. You're not good enough. You're not accepted. Your family is weird. People don't like you. You're rejected." And when I close the door on that thought, others try to barge in. Like: "People are thinking your son is weird. He's so behind. Maybe he'll never catch up. He'll be one of "those" kids in one of "those" classrooms. You're the rejected family once again. Why can't you just fit in? Why can't you just be like everyone else?"

When I'm battling this, I lose all energy to try to make small talk. I just want to run somewhere and cry for a little while, until I feel stronger again.

That is how I felt at Foster Farm, and then I thought of Kelly. Kelly and her husband are dealing with something absolutely horrific right now -- their sweet three-month-old daughter has been diagnosed with an extremely rare form of liver cancer. I thought of tiny Jamie in the hospital lying connected to tubes. I thought of the long halls and flourescent lights and doctors in white coats saying words that make no sense. My heart began to hurt again, but this time thinking of how much I'm sure Kelly wished to be outside during this beautiful day, just taking a walk with her two children or doing the simple things that we take for granted when we can no longer do them.

When I thought of Kelly I knew I had to call and try to visit them in the hospital. In the past, this is something I would have talked myself out all sincerity, I'd convince myself that I'd be imposing or that I didn't really know that person all that well to go "bothering" them. But something inside me was more insistent, and so I called, and although we weren't quite able to connect, I will be going and visiting as soon as possible.

At Foster Farm while I blinked back tears I knew that while I may not be able to truly fathom Kelly's situation, I could relate to one thing -- the feeling of having life throw you a curveball, of having normal, everyday life tilted out of focus, and of feeling that while people may try (or sometimes, sadly, not even try), they can't really understand what you're going through.

Ethan is deepening my empathy and helping me soar above my fears. In the midst of pain, I can embrace so much that is precious.

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