Friday, April 13, 2012

The Message in Your Way

The is a column from 2009. I repost it every so often just to remind myself how lucky I am.

Today I would like to address you, the parent, the caregiver, the person who carries the burden on your shoulders of a child out of sync with the universe. How do you handle the day to day grind of helping your child fit in and understand this world that is so alien to them. How do you teach them what it takes to belong and what it takes to just be happy in life? Honestly I just do my best. I know to stay on top of any issues and try beyond reason to anticipate anything that may occur. I think I become someone who looks for problems, someone who has become at times dark in my thinking about what awaits my children and what hurdles need to be overcome and how to fight those who will try to stand in their way. And yes, there were times that I felt sorry for myself, my husband, and most of all my children. I know it is a human reaction and one that is likely to occur but I cannot say it is a reaction that I liked about myself or the type of person it made me.

You blame yourself, what did I do? Was it something I ate during pregnancy, was it the Tylenol the doctor said was OK during the really bad head cold, maybe the anti-biotic that I needed for bronchitis, or maybe it was that cup of real coffee or that glass of champagne on my birthday. The nagging questions are always there. I even have gone so far as to ask what sin did I commit, since the Bible tells us that the price for our sins are visited upon our children. Was I really that bad a person that my children were so punished? What did I do? Internally  I raged against God and all that heaven had wrought upon my little loves. I rejected heaven and cursed the fact that it existed. I gave up alot of my soul to anger, resentment and a feeling of abandonment.

Now I do not know if any of you reading my blog believes in God or Mother Earth or the concept of nature made whole, but I found that once I stopped being so angry all the time I was able to see the messages that were being sent to me.  I write alot about doing "good works." Taking time for others whether its helping the PTA, ASPCA, United Way, a religious organization, raising money for some type of medical research or my favorite right now, kitting blankets for Project Linus. But there are messages around us all the time. One of the things I volunteer for is being a parent member in my town. That means I sit in on Special Education Committee sessions to help newly designated children receive the necessary supports in school. I have to tell you whenever I feel sorry for myself I receive a message. Whether its the child who is starving themselves through anorexia, the one who is making their way out of rehab, the child who is suicidal, the one who can't leave their bed because of anxiety,  it reminds you that trauma is not just yours and yours alone. That there is a world of pain and maybe just maybe the fact that your child can get better is the blessing that you were given because you did not sin, because you did eat right and did all the pre-natal things you were supposed to. Maybe all those years I had it backwards. You see, it isn't about what we don't have but what we do have. And what we do have is the ability for the boys to have any future no matter what the struggle to get there if they want it want it bad enough.

I know that I always get messages. On my way last year to a seminar on transitioning from high school to college for aspergers students I was sitting on the train feeling very sorry for myself and collegeman. I kept thinking when is this going to get easy for him. He is just such a sweet boy and a good boy and a hard working boy. He is such a caring child why does every thing have to be so hard for him? Well you know how that self-indulgent crap goes. Anyway, I was wearing these beautiful "evil eye" bracelets that I had bought from an organization called TAPS, which helps children whose parents had died in Iraq and Afghanistan with counseling. The beautiful beaded bracelets are actually made by Iraqi women and sold here. I wear it, because as a Jew, the fear of the "evil eye" is quite a huge bubbemeiser (grandma story) and well, it couldn't hurt to have a little help...you never know, .

Anyway, sitting next to me on the train, was this truly lovely woman who asked me about the bracelets. I told her where I purchased them and wrote down the URL for the group. We struck up a conversation. She was heading into Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital to be a parent counselor for parents whose children had been newly diagnosed with cancer. You see, that day was the one-year anniversary of her daughter's death after a five-year struggle with cancer and she wanted the bracelets because her daughter had some "evil eye" bracelets but she couldn't find them, so she wanted to purchase new ones in honor of her child. She wouldn't take mine, I offered. The train came to the station and she went to get off. I had to giver her a hug. I did not know what else to do. Then I realized I had been sent another message. I suppose the messages throughout the years that I had been sent weren't obvious enough so God/Universe/Nature had to give me one more huge smackdown.

I do know that no matter what since that day whenever  I wear those bracelets I think of her. Her daughter and their struggle. This woman's spirituality will never leave me. I don't know if I believe in angels sent by God, but I do know that this woman, whose name I never learned, who was going to help others on the anniversary of her daughter's death is probably pretty close to what one would term a human "angel."  I don't feel sorry for any of us  anymore and you know what I don't think I ever will again.


Until next time,


Elise