Saturday, January 30, 2010

Aria went back to school!

May 28, 2009
Subject: Aria went back to school!!

The reunion was magnificent. Everyone was so thrilled to see her. There were even a few happy tears. Aria has been out of school for a month if you can believe that! She broke her leg on April 29th and I know what you're thinking. It's been a month already? It really has and luckily it has gone by pretty fast.

Aria went to the clinic on Tuesday for a count check. Her ANC was 1645, which is a lot better than 830 from 2 weeks ago. So, she got the green light to head back to school. She was beside herself and could not wait to show off her cast and see her friends. I dropped her off in her class room around 8 20 yesterday morning and by 10 am I got a call from her teacher saying that Aria was really tired and wanted to come home. She made it 90 minutes! The poor thing was completely overwhelmed. Doc went to pick her up and she had fallen asleep at the activity table.

It is so odd to me because looking at her, she doesn't seem that tired or sensitive to being worn out. At home she is positive, light-hearted and full of real energy. I was so excited for her to be in school. It felt healthy and full of wellness so it was sort of shattering to get a call from the school saying that she needed to come home an hour early. I understand that it has been a month so everything was new again. She was more than likely completely over-stimulated, which tuckered her out. I'm basically in awe of it is all.

She wasn't able to handle 2 1/2 hours of preschool. That was too much. You know what, that is a reminder to me that we are STILL dealing with something incredibly intense and it sort of breaks my heart. Plain and simple. I'm a bit heart-broken. I'm also celebratory because she was able to go for 90 minutes and I cherish that. But you see, I'm waffling between these extremes and it has me a bit befuddled.

Now mind you, Aria not being able to finish her morning of preschool is not the cause of my present bit of melancholy. No, that has been percolating for a few days. Memorial weekend hit me hard for some reason. I was remembering several kids I knew who died this past year. I was thinking of their families and how they've been coping and adapting. I don't know. It was heart-wrenching. It is heart-wrenching. Naturally, I want more than anything to know that when we're done with treatment in 11 months that we'll be done. But the truth is that we don't know. We have to wait and see. I can't tell you how much I hate that. I've been doing the wait and see thing for 16 long months already and every finger poke, port access, and spinal tap is an enormous surge of ,"Oh my God, is everything ok or has it come back?" That surge is not going to go away any time soon and I wouldn't be honest if I didn't tell you that it is absolutely exhausting. It isn't a place I dwell so that anxiety isn't something that is always red hot on my radar, but it is always there. It becomes red hot in strange little glimpses on clinic days that happen regularly every 2 weeks. It isn't something I can 'just let go' of. It is something I have to carry but I haven't figure out how to do that very well, yet. It is a cumbersome load that sometimes rubs me raw, makes me cry, pisses me off, or makes me feel blue because I'm sick of lugging it around! I'd love to give it to someone else to carry for a brief stretch but I can't. I accept that and I know that but sometimes I don't like it. I feel compelled to write about it because it is so easy to convince myself that I have to be positive all the time and in order to be positive and optimistic I have to 'suck it up. I have to suppress these bits of angst when they surface. I can't do that. I get sick when I do that. I have to purge my mind and body of those nasty little pest-like thoughts otherwise it becomes a blown-out infestation. So I write about it. I admit when I'm down and I'm no longer held captive by these negative thoughts, these moments of self-pity, and these periods of anxiety. Instead, I have found them to be masterful teachers lending themselves as lessons for greater peace of mind.

As I pause here for a moment and enjoy a bit of silence I can hear the wind and it reveals to me that I'm looking too far into the distance. I'm looking outward hoping to see something that will lighten my load or change its configuration so it rides better. The music in the wind reminds me that I need to look deeper into my own pockets. I'm sure mixed with all the grit and lint that defines me I'll find the tool I need and I'll feel more sure-footed. I can hear the wind whisper, "Julia, you've said your peace. You've admitted your woe for this brief period of time. Now let me carry it away."

I sense a ray of hope building. I'm reminded that I had 90 minutes of gardening while Aria was in school that I didn't have last year. It isn't much and yet it is enormous. Aria is gaining strength and confidence. I can hear, for example, her coming down the hallway upstairs because her cast is making a scraping sound across the hard wood floors. She's able to lift herself onto the potty and she's basically scooting herself all over the place. She's laughing and telling poop and pee jokes constantly. She’s curious about reading and loves to listen to music. She is excited about summer and swimming in our pool. She is tender and considerate. She is exasperating and whiney. She is the full spectrum and I celebrate every aspect that defines her. She has leukemia and the ravages of that remain with us. Some of those horrors are less and many of them are not. She reminds us of impermanence and has been a great teacher of moments. She is an old soul full of holiness. She has forced me to grow and not all of that has been easy or pain-free but it has been growth nevertheless and I am stronger as a result.

The load I carry is a heavy one but I'm capable of carrying it. I get sick of it and sometimes would like nothing more than to be free of it but the freedom I seek is a state of mind not a physical one. I'm learning to pause when these times of burn-out arise rather than grind my teeth and trudge on through, ignoring my feelings because they appear less than optimistic. Being real, being honest and being true gives me far more stamina than just being positive ever could. As a matter of fact, it brings me closer to my true self and I'm less fearful of that.

As I was sitting here typing this image of a large oak tree suddenly flooded my senses. The leaves were a bright and brilliant green that shimmered in the sun. The branches of this massive life were reaching and stretching to the sky as if expressing a grand salutation. The bark was brown with a grey hue, fissures coursing like veins and capillaries, making me wonder if they match the grounding roots below. Just within my reach were small withered branches with dry dead leaves. I found myself staring at them saying, "Magnificent oak, these must be your negative feelings!" They do little to detract from the majesty of this grand old tree but they are there worthy of some attention. I break them off the tree. They surrender with ease. I know more will grow and I will tend to them as they appear. In the meantime, I crumple the leaves in my hands. They smell rich and earthy that appeals to my native spirit. I hear the wind again. I hold out my hands exposing this leafy confetti and with my own withered dry negativity I watch the wind take it away. ~j

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