I rely on the kindness of strangers...
Or not so much strangers as readers of my miserable blog.
I received a beautiful card in the mail from my long-tine reader (perhaps my ONLY reader) that lifted my heart. Thank you, G. Parkes. It was kind of you to think of me. Seriously---you are so sweet. Thank you.
Perhaps we can meet in person one day. I'll be in Utah after Conference. We'll see how it goes.
I've been caring for my autistic grandson since July. It seems longer sometimes---and that's not a complaint. I adore this little man. He holds my heart. He fills my arms and my heart in the way that my own small babies used to do. When mine reached the age where they didn't want to be in my arms any longer, I felt their absence. Their absence from my arms was heavier than actually having them in my arms. It was an ache that is difficult to describe, a phantom pain where something once was but now is no longer.
Before my husband and I went to the cabin this weekend we stopped at Costco to pick up some DVDs I'd had made of old family video tapes. We spent some time watching a few of them on my iPad.
Seeing my two year old son, bright blond bowl cut hair, toothless grin and raspy little voice was bittersweet. Bitter, because of what he has become now as an adult, sweet because oh my lord how I loved that little man. How precious, how sweet, how innocent he once was.
Every night before sleep I read him the book, 'I'll Love you Forever.' And I'd sing the song as I rocked him back and forth, back and forth. "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, your mommy I'll be" On the tape, with his toothless grin and baby voice, he sang that song and I sobbed. As long as I'm living, your mommy I'll be. As long as he lives. How long will he live? As I write this, a primal moan escapes my throat and the screen becomes nearly too blurry from tears for me to see. As long as I'm living.....as long as he's living....and beyond. I will never stop loving him.
My beautiful Allison, pale faced, long haired and preciously innocent. She too was on the tapes. She played with cousins she no longer speaks to, she danced and she sang. She opened birthday and Christmas presents and spoke of a boy she'd kissed with her hand over her mouth and a giggle in her voice. She sang in a Kindergarten choir and pulled a stuffed animal from her shirt in our old kitchen to 'give birth' to her baby. There was still a light in her eyes, no scars across her wrists and arms and legs, no demons in her head telling her she needs to die. She skipped along with her hair swinging behind her, oblivous to the pain to come.
My Stephanie, first born, first loved and worshiped. She too was on the tapes that chronicled her first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth birthdays. On one tape. Oh the organization of a mother for her first born. The ones to come after always suffer by comparison. My Steph, my bright early-talking-smart-gorgeous first born. I used to hold her in my arms and dance around the living room in the basement apartment where we lived to Roy Orbison's, "Anything You Want". Anything you want, you got it. Anything you need. You got it. Anything at all.....baaaaaybeeeeeee. You got it. And she did. Another low cry has escaped me as I write these words. So much sorrow, so many decisons that have scraped us raw. So very much pain to come because of past choices. My heart aches. She is a good little mommy to her baby boy. She is exhausted. She does her best. I love her so very much and I do not offer advice because I know it will not be received well. I do my best to support her and her son. It's all that I can do.
My Ashley Rose...my tiny, my last, my precious baby girl. Born to a damaged body with a spirit so alive and fierce that "I Can Do It Myself" became her motto from an early age. Bright blue eyes, honey blond curls and a smile that brought us to tears from laughter. I worry over her, as I worry over all four of them, but I worry over her for other reasons. She's smart but has suffered because of life circumstances and sibling choices. She's beautiful and I've never known someone that cares about others as much as she does. She's been a blessing in our lives and also a thorn in my side as she argues and debates with the precision of a professional. I wonder where life will take her? She has an empathy and compassion well beyond her years.
I am doing my best to see beyond the pain to the blessings and the lessons learned.