Thursday, November 15, 2012

An old friend...

Have you ever had that friend that you simply adore spending time with but life gets away from you and you lose touch? Nothing really happened that made you drift apart, but before you know it, three months have gone by and you haven't picked up the phone. Then another three months go by, and the guilt is so overwhelming that you don't even know where to begin? 
That's sort of how I feel about my blog. My goal this past summer was to blog regularly, I knew I'd flaked on my old friend and I intended to make it up to her. But then life got the better of me and I didn't know where to begin again. I've missed my old friend, more than words can express. But I'm here now, and I plan on giving it another go.  

So what happened this summer that foiled my plans you ask? Life happened. A series of unfortunate events happened that forever changed me and my family.  

First, my grandmother passed away.  That was earth shattering for me. My grandmother was the glue that held me together, and I felt like I was unraveling one thread at a time.  

I thought I'd prepared myself to let her go.  She hadn't been 'herself' in a few years, and our long chats and the advice she gave me hadn't come in sometime, I thought I was ready. For about three years prior to losing her, I hadn't been able to just call her up and tell her what was going on in my life, and I sort of fell out of the habit of it because I knew her mind wouldn't allow her to be able to comprehend what I was saying.  We still talked regularly, and I saw her as often as I could, but our relationship was different. She was no longer my confidante. And so the thought of "Oh I need to call Grama and tell her _________", soon went from being a fleeting one, to consciously knowing that I couldn't call her and tell her the crazy things my kids did or ask her advice about a problem that I was having. 

Then it happened, she was gone. I spent weeks praying and telling her that it was okay to go. That Poppy was waiting for her. We all did.

Watching her die was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, and I just wanted her to be at peace and without pain. And selfishly, I thought my pain would end there. I knew I'd miss her, but I thought that somehow, because I was so prepared for this, you know; that it would be easier.

Nothing could have prepared me for what would come within a few weeks.  You know, you go through the motions. You get by, because there's so much going on. Family coming in and out of town, you want the services to be just right, things never go the way you plan them in your head, and then it's over. And then you grieve. I'd never really lost someone close to me, before losing my grandparents. And I realize now that I never really grieved my pop. Now I was doing it twofold. 

Grieving for him, and grieving for her. My two heroes. The two people who I always counted on. One to give me a swift kick in the ass when I needed it, and the other to just love me and be my rock. Gone. 

My Poppy passed away 3 years before, but I think that I never really felt it because I still had her. She still held me together. And then she didn't anymore. 
I will never forget the day it truly hit me. I was driving in the car by myself, the dust from the services had settled. Everyone had gone home to their perspective lives, and I was driving. I don't know where I was going, but I was alone. There I was, and I picked up my phone and almost dialed her. I must have been about half way through her number when it hit me, like a ton of bricks. What was I doing? And that's when I felt it. The sadness. 

I can't say that I've ever felt that kind of deep, painful, sadness before. Somehow I got through it, held it together on the surface and eventually the sadness lessened. I still miss my Grama, and oddly enough, I still almost pick up the phone to call her every now and again. I probably always will. 

While in the midst of this happening, my son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Previously we'd been told that he had a laundry list of 'other diagnosis', that I just won't go into. But I will say that believing that he had these other things, changed the way we parented him.  And finding out that it was Asperger's changed the whole ball game. The guilt that set in, when we realized that 'it wasn't his fault', that this wasn't a 'conscious choice' that he was making- was incomprehensible. 
We spent a good portion of the last 8 years trying to 'win' with him, not giving in to 'his tempter tantrums'.  We spent a good portion of the last 8 years angry that he wasn't 'capable' of loving us because of the neglect caused by his birth mother.  And now, we found out that wasn't it at all. It's not that he doesn't love us; it's not that he's not capable. It's that he doesn't know how to articulate his feelings. It's that when he feels out of his element he doesn't know what to do or how to act, he reacts.  

So we spent the summer, and then some- relearning about our son. We had to learn knew parenting skills, we had to learn a whole new level of patience, and we had to learn to let the guilt go.  We weren't the ones that misdiagnosed him. But we were the ones who took the hard line stance with him, and were tough on him.  We had to learn the fine line between what he can control, and what he can't. We've had to learn when to just walk away and let him be, and we've had to learn when to keep pushing him because there are something’s that he is capable of learning.  We've had to teach his siblings a whole new way of dealing with his behaviors.  We've had to teach them how to show him kindness, even when sometimes he doesn't deserve it. We've had to teach them the fine line between putting up with his behaviors-simply because they are his behaviors, and that it's okay to stick up for themselves, because he does need to learn what is acceptable and what isn't. 
And it's a tough one; as his parents, we're still learning to navigate this new adventure we were given.  But ultimately, we've learned that it's a balancing act. We have to know when to push, and when to let him be. I'm sure it will always be a learning experience for all of us. It's a learning experience for him, no doubt.