Move Along

I took my son to school for the last time this morning.  I won’t lie, I’m not doing well.  We’ll see if I can write a short post with tears streaming down my face.

There was a very dark period in our lives when Landon was around 8 years old.  He was in and out of the pediatric psych ward, for months.  He was not our child during those times, in that space he was in inside his own brain.  Turned out, it was his seizure meds and all the psychiatric drugs the Doctors put into him just made his madness worse.

Out of desperation, we told the Doctor one pivotal morning in a meeting that we wanted him taken off of everything.  Every single little pill they were making him take, we wanted them gone.  They warned us he would have grand mal seizures.  We said we didn’t care.  They had his syringes for that.  Something wasn’t right.  Our boy wasn’t there anymore and we wanted him back.

You may wonder why I’m spilling this dark stuff right now and I’ll get to that.

I told him right before we walked out the door this morning that this was the last time I’d ever take him to school.  He smiled.  I said, “How many times do you think I’ve taken you to school all these years?”  He laughed and said, “About a hundred billion.”

On the way to school, just a few minutes away, memories flooded back of all the people in our lives who have helped with Landon and still do, all the blessed souls who God himself put in our path all these years.

As much as this week is about Landon, it’s also about all those special people.  I could write about the ones who weren’t so special.  The ones who judged us, their kids who reflected their parents and who were the ugliest inside of all, who wouldn’t play with Landon and made fun of him because he was different.  Those people all happened to be in church with us, by the way.  Yeah, swallow that.  But I won’t dwell on that.  This is about the people who helped two stupid parents who were overwhelmed and tired and in mourning that their son wasn’t well and never really would be after he was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.

Thank you to my parents who were there from the beginning of his life and continue to be there now.  Countless nights they stayed with us in the hospital, states away from Texas, to be there for us and our son.  Many nights were spent in tears, not knowing what the next day would bring our way.  They kept Gracie for weeks on end during the “dark days” so we could concentrate on Landon and getting him better.  They have loved Landon like no one else could except for us.  My parents talk to him every day on the phone.  Dad has had a rough couple years but he still makes time to talk to Landon multiple times a day and answers super hero questions as best he can.  And there are a lot of super hero questions.  My Mom has made him countless blankets, the latest being a Harry Potter blanket this past Christmas.  She loves to laugh and tease with him and cook his favorite foods when we’re in Texas.  I love you, Mom and Dad.  Thank you for raising me to be the person I am, and for also loving my son, no matter what.

Thank you to my mother in law, who spends an hour on the phone with Landon each and every night.  He looks forward to those phone calls and teasing with her.  Her patience and love for our son and willingness to listen to him is a blessing I will never forget.

Thank you to the teachers, so many over the years.  You made a difference in his life in so many countless ways.  I can’t count how many teachers have sought me out over the years to tell me how bright Landon makes their days.  I wish I could express to you what a difference we have seen in Landon from being around such caring educators and administrative staff.  You are one of the reasons I’m completing my teaching degree.  I wouldn’t be writing this post without all that you have contributed to his life.

Thank you to our friends who brought meals to us so many times while we were in and out of the hospital.  Thank you for the care packages and the hospital visits, the phone calls, and notes of encouragement.  Thank you for keeping Gracie many times while I was dealing with Landon when E was out of town.  Thank you for coming to the psych hospital when I was admitting Landon by myself because E was out of town and on a plane trying to get back to Texas as fast as he could while I was falling apart right along with Landon.  You are loved and your love for us will never be forgotten.

Thank you to our friends who love him so much today.  Gary and Laurie, who welcomed him to their cabin any time on the cruise this past Spring Break.  I’ll never forget the laughter, hearing how he beat you at Uno.  He loved every minute with you.  Thank you to the Quinn family, who are driving in from Florida right this very minute to be at Landon’s graduation.  You are so very special to our family.  Thank you to Connie and Blake, who took E and I under their wing so many years ago when Blake hired E for his first job out of college.  You were and still are such an example to us.

Thank you to E.  Before we even conceived Landon, we decided that I would be a stay at home Mom.  I have been for the last 18 years.  It was our joint decision but you are the one who has worked all these years, supporting our family.  Yes, staying at home can be hard work all in itself, especially when the kids are smaller, but it’s a tough gig knowing you support three whole other lives and having that immense responsibility.  Thank you for the years you have given me to be with our children.  It has been a priceless, priceless gift and I consider it a privilege.

As my life is music and I have to put a song to everything, as I was driving home this morning from the school, I thought of songs that sum up our life so far with Landon.  The one that popped into my head was a song I listened to over and over during those dark psych ward days.  I listened to it like a mantra on days I was so depressed I could barely drive much less make myself get out of bed.  Thank you to all the people who have helped us move along all these years, to the people who continue to help us move along today.  You have not only made such a difference in Landon’s life, but in ours.

I love you all.

Paying It Forward

I’m in Texas, sitting in a hospital room with my Dad.  I told my Mom to get the hell out of Dodge for a while and I’d look after him this afternoon.  He had major surgery yesterday which lasted 8 hours, total.  It was successful but there’s a lot of rehab in his future, discomfort, and another surgery eventually but we hope to get Dad to a much better quality of life.

I fed him his dinner just a bit ago.  Cream of Wheat and applesauce, with a spoon.  I had to force myself not to make airplane noises as I was inching the spoon toward his mouth.

It’s a very new feeling to me, the tables being turned, when even just for a few hours, I am taking care of my Dad’s most basic needs.  Sure, the nurses help with the bathroom stuff.  I fed him dinner and feed him ice chips whenever he needs them.  I prop pillows where they will make him feel more comfortable.  It’s a classic case of role reversal.

I’m the strong one.  I do for him now what he did for me during so many childhood illnesses.  I was never hospitalized until I had children but I suffered with horrible ear infections when I was a kid.  I remember Dad dabbing “monkey blood” on my tonsils when I had a sore throat.  God, I hated that shit.  He pulled my loose teeth with, yes, rusty pliers that he cleaned up.  He put warm drops in my ears when I had ear infections.

The best memory I have of my Dad taking care of me was when I was in labor with Landon.  I’d been in induced labor since early morning and it was well after midnight the next day.  I was exhausted, in pain, and just so over the whole baby thing.  A thunderstorm moved in and the lightning was incredible.  During one of my bouts of whimpering, Dad asked if he could rub my back.  It was wise that he asked first because earlier, I’d told E that if he touched me one more time, I’d perform an impromptu vasectomy on him with my own bare hands.  I was willing to give anything a try, so I said yes and he rubbed my back for the longest time while the storm roared on outside the hospital room window.

My parents have helped take care of both of my children in NICU, ICU, post-op, regular hospital rooms.  They’ve changed diapers, emptied colostomy bags, been peed on, pooped on, puked on, fed and burped my babies, sang them lullabies when they were so very sick.  They’ve encouraged E and I when we were so down after yet another hospital stay that yielded no solutions.  They’ve cheered us with hot meals and prayers when all we wanted to do is curl into a fetal position and hide inside a tiny closet and pretend the medical horror with our children wasn’t happening.  Parents continue to take care of you far longer than the required 18 years.

I know a lot of you have done things for your parents that you never thought you’d have to do.  Some of you have went much further than feeding your parent to take care of them.  Some of you are going through it now.  Some have already been through all that and had to bury their parent much too early.  I hate that some of us are getting old enough that we have to face these things.

But at the same time, it’s comforting.  It comforts me to know that this is truly the circle of things, the way it’s intended.  Our parents cared for us when we were young, they raised us up to be caring, loving, responsible adults so that we can be the kind of helper we need to be for our aging parents.  There’s nowhere, other than with E and my kids, that I’d rather be right now than with my Dad, who has given me so much.

It’s time to pay it forward.

I hope y’all are doing well.  I hope to catch up and start reliably posting new blogs at least once a week.  I haven’t felt very funny lately so I don’t want to write but I just figured out that I don’t have to be funny.  Just write.

I love you all!  Thanks so much for all the messages, thoughts, and prayers.  I have amazing friends and family.