The weekend passed in a blur, really. The boys, Sophie and I drove up to northern California and met my parents at my aunt's beautiful house near Palo Alto. My aunt is very old and very frail, and of the four sisters, only the youngest (my mother) and oldest (Aunt Yvonne) are alive. My Uncle Charles, who lives in Mississippi is also quite old and fragile. My own parents are still so vibrant, and I know that I take this for granted. Our relationship has its ups and downs, but I'm so grateful for their active presence in my life, for their support and for their love. There's a terrible melancholy in leaving them, seeing how tied they are to my children and my children to them. The relationship between grand-children and their grand-parents is truly a love affair.
I felt grumpy over most of the weekend, precipitated, I guess, by the near 24-hour care of Sophie. I haven't traveled with her in years, and I know why. I had to be vigilant nearly all night because she doesn't sleep well and would have gone careening off the bed if I weren't there to wrestle her back down. It's difficult to not miss what I insist on calling a normal life when I'm out and about with Sophie. You must know what I mean.
I'm filled with a deep gratitude for my boys, Henry and Oliver. They have never lived a normal life, either, yet they help me instinctually and uncomplainingly. I have worked hard to not let them think they are responsible for taking care of their sister, but the older they get, the more understanding they are toward me, to the strains under which I operate. Sometimes I wince at their aide, wishing that it didn't have to be so. I struggle with that old cliche that well-meaning people dump on us. They're learning such compassion! I worry that one day they'll be on a psychiatrist's couch, wailing about their stunted childhoods, their stressed-out mother, their sister who demanded so much attention. Those thoughts make me falter on the tightrope where I've balanced, for the most part, for nearly twenty years.
It is what it is, is another cliche. I can't do much better.
Other than the Night From Hell, though, Sophie was pretty good. She had few seizures and really enjoyed riding in the car up to northern California and then back home. However much I struggle against it, her identity and mine are entwined. When I surrender to that fact, I really do feel bathed in light, filled with gratitude for having the honor to care for her.
I missed you. XoReplyDelete
How I love that photo of Henry and Sophie.ReplyDelete
I worry about David in a similar way to your worries about your boys. Our situation is obviously different from yours, but it sounds like the same caring, loving, "I wish I could fix this, but I know I cannot" feeling. I so wish we could have protected both of the kids from what happened, and David from having deeply bereaved parents in the aftermath. I keep doing my best to take refuge in the Reiki precepts, and keep communicating our love to David, offering to listen, support and to pay for help, if/when he ever feels the need for it. We do best we can, but that doesn't stop me from wishing we could do better.
Oh, the pictures.ReplyDelete
It's a lovely photo of Sophie and Henry. Your boys will survive and thrive I'm sure.ReplyDelete
The illuminated moments when there are thoughts other than about the weight carried seem to be the measure of it. How could one not wonder, not wish it could be different, yet manage to return to a center at which there is peace. How you do it, how anyone does what they've been given, love. xoReplyDelete
There are times I worry about Abbey having grown up with Max as her brother...but then I stop and think about how I grew up with an alcoholic father, a split home, and I turned out okay, better than okay really. We all have challenges growing up. It shapes who we are as adults.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you got to spend time with your family. Precious moments, indeed.
That photo of Henry and Sophie is just beautiful. Here's another cliche: Henry and Oliver chose you, chose Sophie; they made the choice to be born to you for whatever reason. And now they choose to help how they can out of love for you and awareness of what is. And yes the are immeasurably richer people than most of us will ever be. They really are wonderful boys, all the more so in their "normalness." You did good.ReplyDelete
A sweet post thanks (better than pie) - and Henry with Sophie - no wordsReplyDelete
It's the paradoxes, isn't it? It is and it isn't. You are and you aren't. They are and they aren't. We are and we aren't. Etc.ReplyDelete
That's where all the juice is.
I'm so *&^%$#@ sick of juice.
Seems to me that when you're doing the very best that you can and with so much obvious love and care, it's going to work out.ReplyDelete
And yes, that picture of Henry and Sophie says it all.
This post is amazing. All of it and all that you said.ReplyDelete
I can relate. I have many of the same feelings about my own daughter, who I know feels responsible for me in a way that daughters who haven't grown up with sick mothers for most of their lives, don't. And this is despite my pretty consistent attempts to convince her she is NOT responsible for my well-being. And I worry, too. I won't try to give you any platitudes or cliches here - although I do sometimes try to hang on to a few of them myself, in dark moments. But I can't help noticing the tenderness in those photos of Henry with his sister and with your mom.ReplyDelete
Sacred thoughts and images.ReplyDelete
Love these pics. And your description of your tightrope.ReplyDelete
That picture if Henry and Sophie is so moving. You deserve a large chunk of the credit for fostering that relationship. Painful though this is, I must concede that only one of my other children ever demonstrated love and compassion for C. (she doted on her) And the others are all extremely intelligent, sensitive, caring people (adults now) in ever other way. It's just one of those puzzles I will never solve. Perhaps it's just that C. is so, so profoundly impaired and unresponsive. And perhaps it's just that I didn't approach this the right way. In any case, you have produced two very impressive boys!ReplyDelete
Great photos. I especially love the one of all the motion surrounding your aunt, where she is sharp and in focus and most everyone else is blurred. And the one of Henry and Sophie is terrific.ReplyDelete
I'm sure your kids understand how hard you work for all of them. I know them only from afar but I'm going to go out on a limb and say I don't see a psychiatrist's couch in their future.
That picture of Sophie with Henry captures the natural love you have created in your family. Your life must be so very hard and yet there is such beauty that has come from your parenting. I have great admiration for you Elizabeth. Sweet JoReplyDelete
Rendered speechless at your mindful, grateful post and the gorgeous photos of your family.ReplyDelete
Carrie and Moira's comments mirror my thoughts well. I'll let it lie there, no cliches from me!ReplyDelete
Cliches, when I'm feeling 'balanced,' roll right off, and I can accept the intent by the speaker. But otherwise, I want to snap, "Oh, what do YOU know?!"
Saw the documentary "Shoot Me" about Elaine Stritch the other night. Have you seen it? For some reason, your post made me think of this brassy lady.
This entire post blew me away. The family connection, the pic of Henry and Sophie, the image of you bathed in light. xoReplyDelete
I do know what you mean. It's not normal. I'm glad you find something like refuge there in the light. Your boys are amazing. So are you.ReplyDelete
gorgeous photos and writing, bless you, amen.ReplyDelete