This is a guest post from my friend Barb, who wrote to me after she read my post on Monday, The Middling Place. She’d sent it to me as an email, but I strong-armed her into allowing me to share it with you, Pranksters. It’s a beautiful post about special needs parenting.
(I’ll probably steal it again for Band Back Together, because I am a jerk like that)
P.S. Barb, I love you.
I, too, live in the Middling Place. Off and on since November 1987.
We will never be able to be completely away from there. It is as much a part of you and I as our livers or kidneys. After a while, you will know when it’s time to be there, the Middling Place.
You feel the cold fog press over you as though someone has thrown burlap trimmed with heavy metal weights over your head. You try to peer out through the gaps, see the world around you, feel the sunshine on your face. Shivering, you watch the images of what may have been. Your child growing up “normally.” Walking, talking, and laughing. I’d even accept the tears.
You see her standing outside of Life, looking in at the others. They are growing, and dancing, sneaking kisses, driving and going to College without much thought. Does she know she is different? Does she feel what I see?
As the seconds and minutes and days and years tumble into the heap called ‘Life,’ you learn to control your tears and overwhelming sadness. ‘Fake it ’til you make it,’ you always say. But when that deafening call sounds within your heart, your soul, your entire being, you know can no longer ignore it.
You’re commodious: ‘I can handle anything” facade crashing noiselessly to the ground, landing as shrapnel at your feet.
You turn and limp wearily to the Middling Place.
You glance back at your parents, your husband, and your other children. You are regretful to leave them, but you have no choice. You are carried away by a force stronger than yourself and soon you relent and let it take you. You are being eaten alive. Gobbled by the ferocious monsters’ hunger, ripping at your flesh, tearing your heart out, laughing clamorously, and finally injecting you heavily with Guilt.
Blame and Fault become your champions, reminding you of the day you sat in the sun too long, or had a sip of your husbands wine or didn’t sleep enough or swam in that river. Her pain, her disfigurement, her disabilities, is of your own making.
Finally, struggling, stumbling, exhausted and weak, you get up on your feet. You straighten your clothes, wipe the tears, and fix your hair. We can’t allow her to see. She can’t know she is the reason.
Back where she is we practice, prepare educate and train, make plans and see ‘Professionals’. We try anything we are told will help her.
She begins to speak! One word, two words, three words in a row! We count for years! Warmed by the silly sentences she utters.
She’s walking now, that jilty gait, like she will spill over at any moment. You valiantly let her go on her own, cringing inside as you imagine what the possibilities are.
“I love you,” you tell her. ‘Yes’ she says. I want to snuggle her, wrap her in my arms and cover her with kisses. She rejects me, cringing as though I am poison.
One day though, she will bring some artwork, a picture of the two of us, she and I, maybe sing a song, and let me touch her hair. Clap, clap clapping loudly through the house will make you smile, because you know she is happy. Her enthusiastic attempts at jokes will make you laugh for days, repeating them to friends who will never understand.
This is our life.
We wish they were different, yet at the same time, we don’t ever want them to change. We love our babies.
They make us stronger, more insightful, more perceptive than before she was here.
Before the Middling Place.