I am not a person who holds center well. I experience this life with an, honestly, exhausting level of intensity. At this point, for me, dispassion is an unattainable philosophical concept, far outside my reach. And although I’ve developed the ability to see the highs and lows coming, when I am in the midst of them, they are still all-consuming.
But, you know what? That’s ok.. because I am pretty done beating myself up for my lack of evolutionary prowess. Instead, I will accept that, for now, life’s lows feel like debilitating, crushing defeat that is absolute, hopeless and permanently inescapable. And I’ll be grateful that, life’s highs, in stark opposition, are soaring, above the clouds, over the moon, balling with gratitude, heart exploding, joy- filled happenings.
The last 400 days since lockdown first began have bought me to the brink of insanity many times. I believe the depth of my despair may have been evident in the last year’s- worth of these blog posts. But this last week has swung the pendulum back into that light, the faith, the hope that life is beginning again.
The seasonal change in this part of the country is epic. From the cloudy grey skies, bright sunshine breaks through. Scents of wet earth give way to the aroma of warm pine sap and the entire vibe of the forest changes. Bees buzz around the brightly colored cherry blossoms, walking into spider webs is a constant somewhat terrifying joy and the low-sonic drumming sounds of the Ruffed Grouse delights the ears. Life emerges from its sleep.
In serendipitous synchronicity with the arrival of spring, Oliver went back to school 5 days a week for the first time in over a year. Words would fall woefully short of describing my gratitude for this change.
I love my son with my whole heart AND his care is very taxing. When I am with him, my nervous system cannot rest, because aside from the ever-present possibility of a seizure, his life LITERALLY depends on me for all things. He cannot move his body, cannot protect himself from danger, cannot feed himself to sustain his life. He cannot ask for what he needs or change his position, play or use the restroom. Out of necessity, I am his entire world and, while I am more than willing to do it, that is a burden that’s hard to carry.
Some people will read that last line and think, “Omg. She just said her son is a burden.”
No. That’s not what I said.
My son is not a burden, but his care is. I could call it a labor of love, a spiritual practice or a great test. But whatever name I give it, to pretend that it is easy and carefree would be doing a disservice to the community of parent caregivers like me. It is exhausting. And not having regular breaks from the constant strain eventually overwhelms a person’s body, mind and spirit. A little time away, though, makes all the difference in the world.
Every day this week, as Oliver has gotten off the bus, we greet each other with smiles and kisses and a freshness that has been absent for over a year. He is happy, has enjoyed his time away and I know he loves this ‘coming back to life’ too.
As we wave goodbye, his aid says, “See you tomorrow Oliver!” and it feels like an almost unbelievable blessing from the gods. Each time I think, “Do I really get ANOTHER day tomorrow to recharge?! Another afternoon to let go of the hypervigilance in my nerves, feel the space and JUST. BE. ME?”
Although my life spent in the trenches of depression and isolation this year has been exceptionally difficult, this upswing makes it suddenly seem like a distant memory. So, I accept this shift with a grateful heart and humble thanks to the teachers, aids and bus drivers who provide this space that our family needs to thrive. 2020 highlighted the vital role our school community plays in our world and no words will ever be thanks enough for that.
The highs and lows, the hills and valleys, the light and dark. They are oppositions and yet one in the same, two sides of this coin called life. I try to welcome them all, in equal appreciation for the lessons they afford, but if I’m being totally honest, I sure do prefer this side!