I’m up before the alarm, that I turned off last night, would have sounded and ready to . . . back in some old day, I would be . . . um, I wonder how far back I should be going to say what I mean to say today. This is the traditional time of gathering beloved souls together for cooking and eating and hopefully taking a walk before falling asleep in front of some movie on a cushy couch. And this time has been hard won.
I cast the net far enough back to state that my mother’s traditions did not fit me well; and during our East Village days with baby Cheshire in tow, we started to cook for ourselves and our friends. Cooking and talking and laughing and eating. Sometimes too many people crowded into our tiny apartment on First Avenue and sometimes we all went to Park Slope and celebrated in Carolina and David’s sprawling apartment. On a marble topped coffee table with one chip out of the wood frill frame, Carolina served glorious antipasto and David made margaritas. And we got to the turkey much later. Cooking and talking and laughing and eating.
Julia had a very bad day at her program on Friday—perseverating on her body that she finds many, many faults with, making lots of self-harming statements, banging her head against the wall, putting hands on a staff member. After an initial melt down with lots of shouting, it took 40 minutes for her to gain some calm which is far longer than usual. She took a walk with staff which seemed to restore equilibrium, but once back at the program’s building, she slipped back into melt down.
And I did the unthinkable. I was not available and could not be immediately reached.
I am not feeling badly or guilty about this absence, but the fact remains, her team tried to call and text me and I was not available—available to talk to them, available to talk to Julia, available to come and get her. And my unavailability made everything worse. And she does not have the tools she needs to self-regulate, to regulate with the help of people who know her well. There are times when she can not regulate without my direct intervention.
I am all poetry and the small waves of this Maine ocean.
Yesterday, I started a post about the last week—challenges, transition planning, things that stoked my unhappiness and my anger. Granted, they were things that inspired forward movement and the business of the next months.
But this morning I walked the beach in meditation. Walked with some friends after reading the beginning of a Pablo Neruda poem:
I need the sea because it teaches me. I don’t know if I learn music or awareness, if it’s a single wave or its vast existence, or only its harsh voice or its shining suggestion of fishes and ships. The fact is that until I fall asleep, in some magnetic way I move in the university of the waves.
I went up to Cheshire and Justin’s house on Wednesday with the promise of holding Wilbur for an hour or two. Two weeks old and not spending too much time with eyes open. He had a doctor’s appointment earlier in the day and it tired him out. He nestled in my arms, moving his extremities the way a new baby does—random and without purpose. Amazing how dear such movements can be. And I cannot help but remember when his mother was that age and we brought her home to First Avenue in the East Village.
All is well at Wilbur’s house. Baby sleeping in adequate chunks of time; his bodily functions all working at full tilt. When else is farting charming? He has a good suck, fills his diaper regularly and cries in protest every time his little body is without clothes. Mama and Papa are content, and not as exhausted as I remember being.
Baby Boy, now officially named Wilbur David Borick, was born on September 7, at 3:02 a.m. Cheshire did a great job, getting through a long labor ending in a C-section. She birthed a beautiful little boy who is a joy to behold. And lots of joy holding the little man.
So, here we are. The 25th of August. On my calendar the day is marked as Cheshire’s due date and although I am completed schooled in the idea that due dates are approximations and not to be planned around at all, my eyes opened this morning and I am all expectation.
I cannot compare it to my own due date either to give birth or to meet my child. I cannot compare it to first days of school—mine or my girls. Not wedding days—mine or Cheshire’s. The plans for those days seemed solid. We had set paths that only needed to be followed and at the end of the aisle was a known quantity. And it is not like meeting someone and falling in love—those dates are never circled on a calendar. There may be some hazy hope but no definition expectation.
This waiting time is all possibility and unknown. How will he fit into our lives, take up our time, burrow his way into our hearts. This is the possibility of a new reason to open eyes and start the day.
I began this when I woke up and drifted to my favorite chair to write a bit before getting back to a few more z’s. Finishing up about twelve hours later.
It is the darkest part of night. A lone cricket in my little, dry vegetable garden sings intermittently. A very slight breeze comes in through a dining room window. The breeze and the cricket’s song are all that breaks the solemn, velvet of the night.
A week ago plus a few hours, I dropped Julia off for a week long camp. Amazing. The week and the weekend before went so well. Again amazing.
The last day of camp, the units put on a camp show for caregivers. Last year, Julia would not participate in the show. This year she did! Not anything amazing but dancing and singing with her cohort. At the end of the show, the counselors acknowledged those campers who were aging out this year. This can be somewhat of a trigger for Julia—she has always hated talk of growing up and getting older. And of course, this was an announcement of transition. Well, she did great! She took the tee shirt offered, hugged her counselors and sat down.
Prayers! Maybe a few thoughts too but definitely prayers! Please. I don’t necessarily believe in a micromanaging god that will rescue me although I’ve always been partial to the BVM. A touch of divine intervention would not go unappreciated.
Backstory: Months ago when Julia’s transition program began, she was adamantly opposed to talking about future work, employment, volunteering, etc. This went on for what felt like a long time. Some of it was fear of new experiences and more transitioning and some of it was just plain digging in her heels. She digs deep.
The one employment that Julia was always willing to talk about was working at a Comicon—now rebranded as the FanExpo. This is something that she has mentioned in her IEP meetings for years now, and something the I dutifully tried to talk her out of as an unrealistic aspiration. I mean, Cons are 3 days long once a year in any given place. This is not a career!
“There are days we live as if death were nowhere in the background; from joy to joy to joy, from wing to wing, from blossom to blossom to impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.”
Parker Palmer posted these lines From Blossoms, by Li-Young Lee.
The words break me open. I could almost feel the crack and see the light shining through. I have lived for so so long as if death paid calls and demanded I serve him tea, as if death watercolored the garden backdrop and asked for a critique. I have grown comfortable with his presence, or at least, I have stopped fighting or fleeing from his penumbra.
I have grown use to the absence of joy that comes from inside me. I have manufactured joy, have siphoned off just a little joy from those engulfed in it. It is second hand and yet, I have been grateful for the taste of it. I have needed to chase and catch it if I was to feel any of it at all.
And then, all of a sudden, my heart is in my throat, I am prepared to tremble in anticipation, I am singing all day.
“from joy to joy to joy, from wing to wing, from blossom to blossom to impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.”
A big bowl of tomatoes—so many that I can save a small bowl for the next two days (there are more ripening behind those I picked today) and throw the rest into a big pot to make a simple sauce that I will freeze for the winter. I have refrained from cooking inside during our heat wave—hot food never tastes good to me when it is hot—preferring to grill a bit of protein on my small electric grill (A nod of thanks to Cindy for gifting the grill to me when I left Madison.) and making huge salad with bought greens and herbs from the garden. Everything from the garden has more flavor and vegetables melt into one another so much more companionably than their supermarket cousins.
I let the tomatoes cook down for hours and what is left is the sweet essence of summer. I expect the pleasure long after I’ve pulled up the plants and cleaned the garden for winter.
We are quiet today with nothing planned. Some drawing, a load of wash, some editing for me and reading. Julia plays her music—Ukulele chords are just beginning to make an impression and she has a new cello piece. Then, Julia picks up her basketball and bounces it around the house until she becomes bored. She wants to go to the small park around the corner. She wants to go alone, but capitulates to my entreaty to go with her and sit far away. I am.