Sssssooooo! Today marks the second day that my son has been gone at sleep-away camp. This is his first time ever and I must say: he’s handling it far better than I am. I was really quite surprised by the mix of emotions his absence brought up in me. While I reveled in having a sit-through-the-entire-meal, vomit-free dinner, there was a decidedly empty place at the table and in my psyche. Cole’s service dog, Ilia, seemed equally dispirited. When I asked him where his boy was, he gave me such a goofy, quizzical look that I became firmly convinced some n’er-do-well had ambushed his head and randomly pinned earflaps there before bounding off to TP the neighbor’s place. As I passed his empty bed, I was struck by the feeling that one day in the not too distant future, that would become a permanent symbol of his departure from childhood!and our home. I was also struck by the feeling that I may never see that bed permanently empty. Like all parents, we grapple with the reality that our children will someday leave us and our homes; and our lives as we know them will change forever. We know it, grieve it and (grudgingly) accept it. But for the special needs parent, there is a different grieving; the one that comes from knowing that your child may never be able to live on his own and that you will never be relieved of the exhaustive rigors of caring for him. This overwhelming thought is compounded by the stunning realization that we caregivers may indeed become the cared for. Then what? This is not what most people have in mind when they plan their retirement (although I sheepishly admit that I can’t even plan my grocery list.) But still, it hangs there like the wheelchair-bound elephant in the room. Who will care for him if we can’t? Who will care for us if we need it? And what happens when we’re not here to make sure all’s well? The answer is! I have no answer. All I can do is continue to strive every day to make Cole the independent, free-spirit I hope he will continue blossoming into. My husband thinks this is an unattainable goal; that we should accept he’ll always be with us. But Mother Lion clings to the hope that he’ll be on his own, thrive on his own and succeed on his own. Call me delusional, but nothing strikes fear into my heart like the absence of hope. And so I wandered through my morning routine today; a bit unsteady without my sea legs as I adjusted to my cavernously empty household. Coffee cup clenched in my fist, I open my e-mail to find this: My son, facing a yawning canyon, tied to a zip line. He did it. So that was the metaphor for the day: I will continue to be his harness while he crosses the abyss. Whenever he gets to the other side, we can all let go.
_____________
not sure which is the latest revision
__________
Sssssooooo! Today marks the second day that my son has been gone at sleep-away camp. This is his first time ever and I must say: he’s handling it far better than I am. I was really quite surprised by the mix of emotions his absence brought up in me. While I reveled in having a sit-through-the-entire-meal, vomit-free dinner, there was a decidedly empty place at the table and in my psyche. Cole’s service dog, Ilia, seemed equally dispirited. When I asked him where his boy was, he gave me such a goofy, quizzical look that I became firmly convinced some n’er-do-well had ambushed his head and randomly pinned earflaps there before bounding off to TP the neighbor’s place. As I passed his empty bed, I was struck by the feeling that one day in the not too distant future, that would become a permanent symbol of his departure from childhood!and our home. I was also struck by the feeling that I may never see that bed permanently empty. Like all parents, we grapple with the reality that our children will someday leave us and our homes; and our lives as we know them will change forever. We know it, grieve it and (grudgingly) accept it. But for the special needs parent, there is a different grieving; the one that comes from knowing that your child may never be able to live on his own and that you will never be relieved of the exhaustive rigors of caring for him. This overwhelming thought is compounded by the stunning realization that we caregivers may indeed become the cared for. Then what? This is not what most people have in mind when they plan their retirement (although I sheepishly admit that I can’t even plan my grocery list.) But still, it hangs there like the wheelchair-bound elephant in the room. Who will care for him if we can’t? Who will care for us if we need it? And what happens when we’re not here to make sure all’s well? The answer is! I have no answer. All I can do is continue to strive every day to make Cole the independent, free-spirit I hope he will continue blossoming into. My husband thinks this is an unattainable goal; that we should accept he’ll always be with us. But Mother Lion clings to the hope that he’ll be on his own, thrive on his own and succeed on his own. Call me delusional, but nothing strikes fear into my heart like the absence of hope. And so I wandered through my morning routine today; a bit unsteady without my sea legs as I adjusted to my cavernously empty household. Coffee cup clenched in my fist, I open my e-mail to find this: My son, facing a yawning canyon, tied to a zip line. He did it. So that was the metaphor for the day: I will continue to be his harness while he crosses the abyss. Whenever he gets to the other side, we can all let go.