Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Aria's Tenderness

We had been home a little more than a week and settling into a new routine. Aria was clearly unwell and yet this was all a part of adjusting to dozens of new medications as well as healing. We were all somewhat sleep deprived and stressed and this was taking a toll. We were trying to keep life as simple as possible and so far things were working fairly well. My confidence was increasing with every day. My comfort dispensing medicine and cleaning syringes, which might not seem like a big deal to you but at time it was enormous for me. It was all new and so it was scary. It was something I didn’t want to do but had to and so that was hard and weird to reconcile. Still, I began to see that life was unfolding offering me incredible glimpses of something else, something more meaningful than I could have ever imagined. Moments like the one I describe in the email below happened in a flash and yet the moments surrounding and defining it were every bit as meaningful and I found myself drawn to taking in every minute detail of every moment of every day as if it would be something to venerate and celebrate someday. And so it has.

Subject: Aria’s tenderness
February 1, 2008

Aria has had a rough few days. She's had terrible diarrhea and cramping. We've called every day since it began Tuesday afternoon and the general consensus is that the antibiotic she received over the weekend is the culprit. She's been eating well and taking in plenty of fluids so we aren't too worried about dehydration and the like. Still, it has been REALLY hard watching this fragile (or what I project to be fragile) little person, bent over, moaning saying "ooowwwwwieee" for the better part of a day. Yet, through all of it Aria finds the spirit to be tender and considerate and completely self-less. This is what she did.

The other day, Wednesday January 30th, we had a BIG day. We had the hair-cutting party at a fancy salon. It was fun and I'm convinced Aria would have had a good time had she been feeling better. Balloons and treats were involved as well as a large audience just cheering for us. It was magical in many ways.

Allow me a wee digression. If you didn't know already, the state of Washington is in a state of emergency because of all the snow. We have been out of school this entire week, which has been PERFECT with me since Doc has gone back to work. In any case, the snow has been gorgeous and fabulous and intense in terms of getting anywhere. Driving has been really tough and our country roads get plowed by people with tractors and plows on their pick-ups, like us. They get plowed by the big heavy equipment but usually not for a few days after a snow and certainly not when you need to get around. So, Doc has, for days, been digging people out of ditches and snow banks. He's been plowing our driveway and the road to the barn as well as Tata's lane and the driveways of a few neighbors. He has been at this for hours every single day.

Wouldn't you know, after our hair appointment, I'm trying to get out of the parking lot and I slide into a snow bank and get stuck. I call Doc who has just arrived home early so he can begin plowing and I ask him to come back into town and dig me out. He has every reason to be angry and irritated but he isn't. He's calm, understanding and loving. The kids and I wait in the car for him to come. Aria is completely wiped out. Reo is amusing himself with stories and Rianna is sound asleep. I'm a little worried that Aria will need to use the potty and I'll have to quickly get everyone out of their car seats and head back into the salon. This didn't happen and despite trying to be open, I was so thankful!

Our hero arrived about 30 minutes later after receiving fair warning of the new looks we were all sporting. It was a mess! The innocent little snow bank that my front right tire was stuck in was really an ice bank, which Doc had to chip at and shovel through, breaking the handle of the shovel in doing so. So with the head of the shovel, there is my husband, my hero, banging away at this snow bank; something he's been doing for days for other people with nothing but a generous spirit. I know it was the LAST thing he wanted to be doing for us, but there he was. Finally, after a good 30 minutes and some pushing and rocking of the car, we were free!

By the time we got home, it was close to 5pm and our hair appointment had ended 2 hours ealier. Doc still had some major plowing to do with another snow storm headed our way. It was a daunting task to begin as the sun was setting. Still, he had his coveralls on and all his gear and for nearly 3 hours he plowed snow. The kids, meanwhile, were contentedly watching a movie. When Doc came in, he was angry. He was frustrated. I swear I could almost see steam rising from his body and of course I asked him, "What's wrong, Doc?" His reply, "Oh, I'm just mad at the world right now and really need a minute to get myself together!" You have to understand, I can count on one hand in a year's time the number of times Doc says he's angry let alone loses his temper. He's the most collected person I know. This was a big deal. I'm embarrassed to admit this but the completely juvenile place I went to can be summarized in my reaction which was, "Doc, (pause) are you mad at me?" The minute the words rolled off my tongue, I thought, "UGH!! Hello? Are you 12?" Still, I had to know if coming to dig me out was just the final straw and what's worse, I had to face with all humility that he may be disappointed in me and my carelessness. I took a deep breath and waited. Doc looked at me and said so reassuringly, "ooooh no baby, I'm not upset with you. no. no. no. I'm just having my moments too."

It was fast approaching our bed time ritual which has seen the addition of medications for Aria. She takes them exceptionally well now and has resigned herself to this daily reality. Doc and I embraced and exchanged wordless recognition and admiration of each other. It is the boost we give each other to face what we must. We went upstairs to get Reo, Aria and Rianna ready. Reo was in his room playing with his stuffed animals. Rianna was in my arms as I walked into Aria's room. Aria was sitting on her bed with Doc who was talking to her about her medication and discussing whether she wanted her meds in the bathroom or there sitting on her bed. Again, these little decisions that we allow her to make in this very big process, we believe, are very important. She decided to have her meds on her bed.

Doc looked at her and smiled. He was tense and tired and trying to put aside the weight of the world that was weighing so heavily in that moment when Aria said to him very clearly but gently, "Daddy, I want to give you something." Instantly, Doc sat straight up. "Oh yeah? what?" They stared at each other for a moment and she said, " A hug."

I'd never actually seen a person melt into another person's arms before. Doc had been disarmed by our 4 year old daughter and the weight he'd been carrying high in his shoulders was gone in a single breath. Aria wrapped her arms around him cuddling her face into his neck. He gently picked her up and brought her onto his lap as I watched in silent tears. I stood there in awe of the human spirit and more specifically Aria's spirit and her "gift". The gift of herself so pure so innocent so healing in time of great need. I'm quite convinced I've never witnessed this kind of unconditional giving and realized in that moment the profound lesson she had just given me. With that, I quietly left them in her room.

Aria getting ready to say goodbye to her beautiful braids!

Aria feeling completely sick to her stomach. Her hair was the least of her concerns.

Aria sporting her new look, which I might add is adorable! She liked her hair cut a great deal but just didn't feel well. Incidentally, the outfit she is wearing is something I made for her. She has another outfit similar to this one. She wore them to every single clinic visit we had for months and months.

Reo cutting my braid. Rianna found some gel tube to chew on!

After he cut it, he was a little shocked and although he wanted to the cut the other one he was nervous. I love how he's checking out this braid specimen.

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