Updates and stories about my daughter from China who came home with challenges described in letters—PDD-NOS (on the autism spectrum), ADHD and RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). Her learning curve has been steep and therapy is a way of life. School and social interactions are a challenge. Making art is a way of life. So is a vivid imagination.
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.
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!
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.
“The wind is in from Africa, last night I couldn’t sleep . . . my fingernails are filthy, I got beach tar on my feet . . .”
Once, the reedy soprano slid up and down her registers as quickly as her fingers slid around on the neck of her guitar.
She had long, straight hair, as fine as mine but very much blonder. It was flung over one shoulder with a deft flip of her head. Slight with a sweet, high voice concealing genius and gravitas. (Although now I wonder why genius does not routinely speak in a breathy soprano.) Hippy clothes or terribly cool apparel—cooler as she got older. Never quite settling down but moving in the company of splendid and beautiful musicians. Never quite molded by the commercial music scene but brilliant enough to wedge her way in, to command attention. Singing about quitting the crazy music scene and then going on to write and sing more and again.
Joni Mitchell sang at the Newport Folk Festival Sunday night as a surprise special guest of Brandi Carlile. It was a carefully orchestrated appearance, her first public performance since a stroke and brain aneurysm in 2015. A friend posted an early morning YouTube video on her Facebook feed. I clicked on the link and then got lost down a rabbit hole of videos catching Joni performing song after song—the highlights of her old masterpieces and the kind of standards that I loved to sing—and playing her guitar. Her voice—low and chesty, a voice that had come back from near death, an old voice so rich with meaning and inference and innuendo that it was like some rich, decadent dessert.
Our final morning here, we drive the 10 mile Ocean Drive and look for a beach to visit for a few minutes before driving home. We get to see another side of Newport. Big and small, mostly modern beach homes with wonderful views. It is quiet here—and I have no idea if it is the middle of the week quiet or just the nature of this side of the town. No restaurants, no where to tour. If I was to live here, this is where I would find home. This area is still not far from where the cottages are and we pass a few former carriage houses and footprints of old green houses.The surf is very small here but it is the ocean sounds in miniature. The beach is a rocky and coated with a layer of dried sea weed but there is some sand in which Julia can play. How many times, we have travelled to lovely beaches without sand toys! Forgotten at home, or impossible to carry. This time, she has her pails and shovels and there is little to use them on. No matter, she is happy wading in the surf, picking up and discarding rocks and letting hand fulls of dry sand pour through her fingers.
When ever I am at a beach, I wish hard to live by water. Listening to the smallest of waves brings me home, home to a place I have never been.