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duy-huynh_if-it-grows-together_print

If It Grows Together ~Duy Huynh

I don’t believe that everything happens for reason. Or that there is some sort of divinity arranging events. However, I do believe that the examined life demands that I take advantage of my experiences as teaching and learning moments.

And that’s where I am today.

Last week I canceled almost everything we do.  No cello lesson, therapy with Marilyn, speech therapy, reading group, Chinese brushstroke painting, ice skating for Julia or songha for me.  We stayed home.  I went to a show on Friday night with a friend driving and we went to church on Saturday Night which had the bonus of a potluck meal afterwards.  I did homework with Julia every day and we found time to write to thank you notes that she owed but without other obligations she also had free time to play video games, listen to music, and draw Sonic. This morning I had a chilling awareness that what we did last week, no therapy and just a little bit of learning, could be what Julia’s life post high school could be like. It could become a lonely life of unrewarding work and coming home to an evening of mindless TV.  I know it’s four years away and she will change between now and then but my mother fears bubble up. What if she doesn’t change or grow during these years? What if at 21 or 25, Julia is not curious and needs me to fill her days for her in some productive way? What if only me wanting this fuller life for her? Immediately, I went down the rabbit hole of worry and fears.  What if… What if… What if.

Steadying myself, I look to the present.  Julia has been a remarkably easy companion this past week. She’s been helpful and attentive. She has not forgotten that I need help and she has done many little tasks that were inconvenient for her. She’s also helped me get dressed, brought laundry up and downstairs, and is learning how to put dishes in the dishwasher. She has picked up after herself and plugged in her electronic devices. Some of these things I can usually do faster and it has reminded me I’ve how capable she can be if I slow down and exercise patience.

Another note about her memory: Julia was impressed enough about my injury to let many of her teachers know what happened to me. And from notes I got from them, it sounds like she got it right.  Also, yesterday when she was describing her school day, she told me that she and a classmate made a plan to go shopping today and that they were going to make snacks when they got back. I have to check whether this really happened yesterday and today.  They have done this sort of thing before and Julia has not connected the making of the plan and the going to get ingredients and cooking.

Is she building new neuro-pathways? Could I call this neuro-plasticity?

Yesterday, a PA put a purple cast onto my arm. It is smaller than the splint, I can move my fingers, albeit with some pain, I can bend my elbow, gingerly at the moment.  Appreciation of moving fingers and bending elbows overflows the cup right now. Funny how quickly I’ve grown to miss and then be thankful for the return of these parts of my limb. There is still the recommendation to keep the wrist elevated and I will abide by all recommendations. Another appointment and more x-rays in two weeks will plot the next step in this journey.

This morning I acknowledge the gifts of this time. Although it is been hard to sit still at times and there are tasks I must leave undone, I am learning during this time. Dictating instead of typing or writing is making me think differently about my words.  Needing to sit with an elevated arm translates into more reading of the kind that I usually leave until after Julia has gone to bed. When I do it then, I fall asleep over pages, last week I read chapters at a time.

I am also quite proud of myself asking asking for the help that I’ve needed. I am more than fortunate that I have a community which responded quickly and full heartedly.  I am not completely housebound and if I had to, I could make do with commercially prepared food and take out. With portions of the unhealthy foods that we usually avoid. Instead, my heart is full of the care of my friends, and rather unexpectedly, I am greatly relieved.  Friends a far send good healing wishes and regret they are not closer to help. All this from the simple act of asking for what I need.  Of course, without the existence of a community, asking might make me feel vulnerable or embarrassed. This is so not the case.

In Quest,  we learn and we teach to ask for what we need and so, I have heard this idea for the last five years. But it’s taken my broken wrist for the teaching to be made real for me. And in case I needed one more reminder, I clicked on a story about Steve Jobs insanely simple strategy for getting what he wanted and it boiled down to asking. I laughed out loud.

I hope this is a lesson that I can check off as learned from my this-lifetime to do list.