So I finally hit a wall. Not literally of course, but emotionally. I think it's the combination of issues that I have had to deal with lately. Mom dieing because of a car accident, at the same time trying to get the boys transitioned into the next phase of life, coming all at once, has finally taken its toll on me. I guess I was wondering when it was going to happen...the ennui.
Well not so much ennui, as the inability to move one more step forward without taking a moment to sit and process everything. I suppose I haven't really done that...think about the last few weeks and what has happened in my life. It has only been 6 weeks since mom's accident and even less since she passed. So much had to get done and organized that I didn't take time to process my new reality of being an orphan. Think about that. No matter how old you are, once both your parents are gone, you.are.an.orphan. Someone asked how I could do all that was needed at the time, and I thought to myself, I could do it because I am a grownup and it needed to get done. Besides, if I didn't do it who would?
Hubby made a salient a point on that topic. He said mom knew what she was doing when she made me executor. She knew I could handle whatever life threw at me so she put me in charge. Well maybe that was it and maybe it was simply because I was her oldest and a lawyer (even though I never really practiced, it was mom's pride and joy that I was a member of the Bar). But in some way being able to raise autistic children and handle the reality of those issues does in a way prepare you for the unexpected.
I learned several decades ago that life does have a way of kicking you in the teeth when you least expect it. Knowing how to pick yourself up and dust yourself off is not only a learned behavior, but I think an ingrained talent. Being able to meet the challenges head-on is the first step in having a successful life. Not allowing trauma to overwhelm you and to forestall what you want out of life. An acquaintance mentioned to me how when faced with issues alot of people simply can't do it. They become overwhelmed by the reality and cannot move forward. Perhaps some people are not made to deal with the curveballs of life, or they were never challenged and when it finally happens, for negative and potentially emotionally destructive things always happen to everyone in life, they don't know what to do. So did my life's experiences prepare me for this moment? Not sure when I learned to "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war....."
In truth, I think it has less to do with being an autism-warrior-parent and more to do with the ability to survive. Yes I say its part of the survival instinct. Figuring out what needs to be done and then doing it. When MrGS (I do need a new moniker for him now that he has graduated with his masters degree) was first diagnosed there was no wallowing. I was so grateful to have a name for what was going on with my child along with the beginnings of a plan. It was the years before that were the painful reality of not knowing why and not knowing what needed to be done. That was the heartache. Now came the relief. It was such a relief that nothing would hold me back anymore. We moved and reorganized in a month and MrGS was on his way to a better future and the help he needed.
Of course I was never faced with the ultimate soul wrenching issue, that many I have met over the years have dealt with....while I had to make the life or death decision for my mother, as I partially had to do for my father almost three year earlier, too many I have met have had to make such a decision for their child....even an adult child. That type of strength is unimaginable and I pray to God in heaven that I will never have to pull on those kind of reserves. My condolences go out to all those who live with this evil everyday.
Meanwhile, yesterday I just stopped. Really just stopped. Sat on my porch, streamed Netflix and did nothing. Well I worked out and did some laundry, even sent a fax, but didn't get dressed and didn't leave the house. I found this fun murder mystery series from the BBC called Midsomer Murders. It's a hoot to watch because it was made before the advent of cell phones and the use of modern scientific evidence like advanced DNA. Something of a time capsule so to speak, time traveling backwards into another dimension, an alternative reality. To describe the show to Americans, it's Columbo for the British. Of course, you then have to be old enough to remember Peter Falk and Columbo, but that is another issue for another day. And yes it becomes rather predictable after a few episodes, but it is a genteel show and I am enjoying myself immensely.
In addition, I did nothing more when it came to mom's estate even though I had to tie up some loose ends. I decided it could all wait one more day. Honestly, if all goes as planned the financial and legal aspects may be coming to an end by the end of the month. There wasn't much to do in retrospect when she passed. It just felt like alot at the time. Mom didn't have much other than the house and a few CDs. I suppose what she had, which was worth more than anything else, was the love of her children. That will never change.
So as I sit here, with my tuchas on the porch couch, thinking about the reality of being an orphan. I think how it feels so different than when my father died. Then I did what I could to make certain mom was OK. I suppose I had someone to think about besides myself.
But now, when I sit quiet, I feel alone. Not alone in the sense that I have noone. I have a loving husband, and children that tolerate me to the best of their ability. But it is a strange feeling. Something is missing. A sense of security that I will never get back. That even though mom was aging and would need more care as the years passed, she was within earshot. There was a security in knowing that she was here. The chats and laughter and a person to complain to over the simplest things is now gone. The person I counted on from the time I was born is gone. And no, she didn't do more for the boys than listen to me or talk to them, she wasn't able to and didn't have the knowledge, but at times that is all you really need.
I remember very recently I was telling her how frightened I was about the growth of antisemitism in the world and how I worried for the boys' future. Her response to me was, "If you move to Jerusalem, you have to take me with you." I hadn't even talked about leaving the US. Hadn't even thought beyond the fact that I was frightened at that very moment. But of course, she knew that where I would go would be Jerusalem, Israel. Only because if you were going to give up your cosmic luck of being born an American, the only place to go would be to your ancestral capital city. The one your immortal soul prayed to return to every day for over two thousand years. In the end, mom was quite adamant. Wherever I was going to live, she made certain she let me know that she was going with me (us). The following week she finally agreed to sell her house and move in with us.
Life as it will be for the rest of my life, hit me very hard yesterday. While I will always be my parent's daughter, I am no longer someone's child. I am the apex. There is noone but hubby and me to protect those that we love. Noone else to stand and fight. I am the lineman. I am the last line of defense. I am the shield wall. From here on in, its just hubby and me against the world, trying to figure out a way to protect the boys' future.
And yes I am scared....really scared....
All the more reason to get off the porch and do what has to be done....
CM2 needs to apply to grad school and MrGS needs to find a job.
The grad school application is almost done except for the essay. He is having real issues trying to get that started. It is never easy for an aspergean to talk about themselves, especially in the abstract. He is frustrated and cranky and hiding in his video games. It will get done....eventually. Luckily the deadline for the fall semester is still a few months away. And yes, once he is accepted he will be MrGS2, but not yet. Don't want to jinx his luck.
By the way don't let anyone tell you it's a good job market out there. MrGS has a master of science degree in computer science with an A average and he has had all of 2 interviews; one in person and one on the phone after sending out hundreds of resumes. We need to figure out a new game-plan for him. Broaden his search and his horizons. And yes, I think he is done with school and needs to go out into the adult world. While we had thought that at one point he would go for a PhD, not certain about that now. More importantly, not certain it would help him get a job even. He would simply be an extremely bright person with a doctorate and no job. But in the meantime, he is taking some on-line courses to gain more certifications in different programming languages and computer concepts.
Annoyingly, the career services lady keeps harping on his aspergers as a impediment. But I keep trying to tell her that it never even gets to that point where he would make a social mistake in an interview. He isn't getting interviews based upon his resume, even with two published scientific papers. But she keeps sending him to job boards for persons with disabilities. And yes while dealing with companies that post on disability job sites, may make the people more understanding of any social glitch in his interview, he is much more than his aspergers. But the career services office is refusing to see that, or deal with it. They are stuck in this mindset and it is not good for MrGS at all. Personally I think they are simply at a loss and have no idea what to do for him. It also seems MrGS isn't the only one in this boat, as some of the professors have let on. (On another note: you should see the thousands of applicants at all the tech job fairs...MrGS is competing with so many who are out of work and so many with years of experience looking for any kind of job.)
And me, what am I going to do with my parent coaching business? I need to revamp that as well. Rethink my approach, my mission and how I want to present myself, too. I want to educate those around me about how to help their autistic child, as well as teach the providers how to be supportive. Maybe a more educational approach is needed, rather than per individual. My slide presentation is well done (so I am told). My accompanying articles are very informative. Now I think I just need a different marketing approach. All in good time ...all in good time.
So here we are...and there I must go.....ready-set-scared-yet-knowing-that-it's-time-to-fight-on....
Finally, let me leave you with this poem...it is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, even though some take umbrage at that. Mom had it framed, put up on her kitchen wall, so we would have an understanding of true success throughout our lives....
To laugh often and love much;
to win the respect of intelligent persons
and the affection of children;
to earn the approbation of honest citizens
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
the best in others;
to give of one’s self;
to leave the world a bit
better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social
to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this
is to have succeeded.