Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Day 2 of the new reality

I was in a state of shock yesterday. Today it's settled into just stunned. I hope that tomorrow I will be able to start doing all the things I need to do before the 1st. It amazes me how the mind is programed toward equilibrium. It does not want to stay at extremes of either joy or pain. That's why the giddy rush of new love doesn't last. And that's why, after the first sense of drowning under the weight of a shock, we find ourselves rising back up to air, and eventually beginning to accept the deluge as normal. It's how our brain helps us survive.

We told the kids. The youngest, Thing 4, is being very brave and assertively chipper. She's trying to do everything she can for herself, making her own lunches, struggling with the heavy gallon milk jug to pour her own glass of milk. She's so like her father; putting on her "I'm FINE!" face, trying not to be any trouble to anyone. Silly, sweet goose, her and her father both.

The twins, Thing 1 and Thing 2, seem pretty down about it. They're quiet, deep kids normally anyway. But now they've lost that teen-girl froth of giggles and gossip. I wish I could hold them like I used to when they were little, heads resting against my shoulder, until their fears faded away in the light of my love and omnipotence. But they know, now, that I'm just human, and they know that shit happens.

I know that Thing 3, our special-needs girl, perceives more than she shows. So, for her, as for all of them, I'm trying to keep things as normal as possible; schedules the same, dinner at the regular time, etc, so the reassuring rhythm or normal life can calm them and help them feel safe. Tomorrow Thing 4 (who is on Spring break) and I are going to plant seeds in indoor seed-starter kits, to plant outside when the weather warms up. I told her she could choose any seeds she wanted to, and do everything herself - I'd just help her along. She chose sunflowers, which are perfectly her, and, clutching her seed pack, marveled, "Oh Mommy, I can't believe I'm going to be in charge of the sunflowers!" It seems like a hopeful, happy thing to do, which is good for both of us.


more cowbell said...

oh god, Elizabeth, this made me cry at each of the kids' descriptions. Well. You know that being mom as well as partner is what makes this extra hard, but ... being mom, you know too that they are also what will get you through it.

"I can't believe I'm going to be in charge of the sunflowers!" Sunflowers are so brave and strong, and so will you be. (You will!) Hugs hugs hugs.

evilganome said...

It sounds pretty awful. Waiting around is the worst of it in situations like this. We're all thinking about you.

Willym said...

Elizabeth, anything I can think of to write at this moment seems contrived or simply inadequate. So I'll simply repeat what Tony said: We're all thinking about you.

Doralong said...

Waiting is always hardest- keeping your mind from wandering into spaces it ought not to go..

But there is a sure and steady comfort in the cycle of the household schedule that can help to soothe.

Keeping you and yours in my thoughts, and hoping only for the best!

sageweb said...

Ditto what everyone else said. Your first paragraph really touched me. You are so right about the mind and the extremes of Joy and Pain.

Still thing of you.

sageweb said...

HA! I meant to say Still Thinking Of YOU!

Miss Janey said...

It sounds like you adn the Mister have done a wonderful job with your children. Still thinking good thoughts for you all...

Elizabeth said...

Cowbell: Their little braveries tear me up more than anything the husband or I have to face. But you're right - they're also what get me through. The youngest and I planted the seeds today, and had fun doing it. And I never would have done it today on my own.

e.g. and Doralong: Yes, the waiting around is misery. I just want to get to the moment the surgeon comes out the O.R. door, and says the knuckle head is OK. Just trying to keep moving, to avoid those dark places.

Sage: I knew exactly what you meant. So it made me smile when you came back to explain. Thanks for making me smile!

Miss Janey: Thanks. They're good kids, and we try not to give them too many reasons to go into therapy when they're grown ups. And thanks, also, for the good thoughts.

yellowdog granny said...

its of no consolation but all of us are praying and wishing for the best for you and family..and i believe that counts for a lot...

citizen jane said...

Children are indeed a reflection of their parents -- and yours seem to be spectacular.

Here's to being in charge of the sunflowers. Thinking good thoughts for them -- and for all of you.

Claire M. Johnson said...

She is so a sunflower girl. Give everyone a hug for me.

jason said...

I'm with Jane...yours do seem wonderful.

Elizabeth said...

Granny: Actually, I think in hard times, kindness is my greatest consolation. It makes those hard places softer. So thanks.

CJ & Jason: Aw shucks, Ok. But they do also come the way they come, each of them their own little selves, and I see it as my main job to help them to be the best, happiest version of themselves they can be.

Claire: She is a little sunflower, moving her face toward joy. and she's also just a nut; she's growing a little pansy plant (which she calls "Baby"), and every day she measures it with a ruler to see if it's grown. Then she has to tell us all the minute measurements

pat said...

Elizabeth, this post is poetry. In the context of what seems to be happening in your house, planting sunflowers is the only possible answer, and I think the absolutely best thing to do. Sometimes the way life goes is so terrible and beautiful at the same time it's just unbelievable...and hard to bear.
I'm sending you all my best thoughts from gray old Europa. love,pat.

Elizabeth said...

Terrible and beautiful. Yes. At times like this I always think of Auden's poem, "Mussee des beaux arts." If you don't know it, here it is.
Musée des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Thanks, Pat, from grey old Pittburgh.