I think I might have had a good day … NO - actually a great day.
It started this morning without promise. I tried to sleep in and couldn’t. My mind was alert and racing at 6:30. I got up and Tara was right on my heels. I was hoping for a little peace and quiet, but Tara is not someone I can be peaceful and quiet with. Her brain is always going and I find it hard to keep up to her level of energy.
I try anyway. She sits on my knee and listens to a song that a friend had recommended to me. ‘Her Diamonds’ by Rob Thomas. It’s a sad song that he wrote for his wife who has an auto-immune disease. The web site had the words to follow along with. Tara liked the song and on the third listen, she had the chorus memorized. There were a few bars of the song that she recognized but couldn’t remember where she had heard it. But she knew it was on of your many favorite tunes and on your ipod.
She wanted us to do something together. I asked for some ideas. “Why not make cookies!” she said excitedly. She picked out a recipe and I helped her get out the ingredients. – She went to work measuring and mixing. I made breakfast for the three of us.
Quinn got up and asked if he could go on the computer after breakfast. I said it was OK – but only for 30 min. Tara’s enthusiasm was wearing down for the cookies. She had got them mixed but her arm was sore. I said I would put them on the cookies sheets for her while she cleaned up a bit. After 36 cookies, I left the remaining dough in the bowl and suggested that Tara and Quinn split it up between them. Tara agreed … but she didn’t share with Quinn and Quinn blew the whistle and I blew my top.
I explained that it is disrespectful to agree to do one thing and then do another. She was defiant. I told her she needed to go to her room – she wouldn’t. I started THE count … 1…2… she left for her room and slammed the door.
Normally, a time out goes very badly with Tara. She doesn’t reflect on what got her there, she just gets more angry. The only benefit of a time out for her, is that it gives me a minute to take a deep breath and think of a different plan … a plan that might work. I was not in the mood to work on a plan to get Tara back into the world of cooperation today. Normally, she would stay in her room for a very long time and give me the cold shoulder so that I would almost have to beg her to talk to me.
Today was different. About five minutes had pasted and I had just gotten off the phone with you. I had vented and said we got to do something about her attitude. I had just hung up the phone when she came out of her room, calm and quiet and had almost a sheepish look to her face. Her expression said ‘I’m sorry’. I can honestly say that this was a first. Although, I have never seen that expression before on her, I knew instantly that she was sorry and wanted to make up. I reached out and I hugged her. I held her for a while … for a long while. I told her that I had just seen something happen that made me think that she was growing up. ”I am proud of you Sweetie.” I said.
She sat on my knee and we talked. I told her about my feelings and how I feel them build up in me and I feel I want to explode every night. I told her that writing the journal was very helpful for me. It helped empty my head. It let me sleep at night. I told her how bad feelings that are trapped inside you can eat you up and make you sick.
Earlier this morning I explained what auto-immune disease was. We had always talked about the immune system in terms of the invisible soldiers and the bad guys (Virus etc) being the invisible enemy. Auto-immune disease is when the invisible soldiers get confused and start to fight your body instead of the bad guys.
Long term sadness causes stress that confuses the invisible soldiers as well. When this happens, you get sick and the sick feeling is real. It may not even feel like sadness, it feels like sickness. The only way to deal with this is to understand that this is what is happening and not let it control you. You have to find a way to get the bad feelings out.
“Rob Thomas had bad feelings about his sick wife and he wrote songs, I have bad feelings about Daddy and I write away my feelings. You have to find an outlet that works for you. Maybe you will want to use music too.” She became very thoughtful about this and said “Well, I do hear music a lot of the time in my head, maybe that is what is trying to get out?”
All of a sudden, I felt a different energy from Tara. I have felt it all day. She is different with me, different with Quinn and different with you. When we got to your room, You started to give Tara a pep talk lecture. “We are all in this together and we have to lookout for each other.” She listened carefully. I mentioned that I had a great talk with Tara and summarized it for you and Quinn. The first thing you said was “I’m proud of you.” She beamed.
Within 15 minutes, she climbed up into your bed nestled into you left side listening to songs on your ipod with you. She wanted to find the song that ‘Her Diamonds’ reminded her of. She described the sounds and the feelings with the sounds and in no time you found it … I think it is called ‘The Earth to the Moon’ a piece you had downloaded after hearing it on a National Geographic (I think) program.
As the two of you listen to the feather theme from Forrest Gump, I realize that you and Tara have a common language … Music.
While you and Tara cuddled, Quinn settled down to make wishing stars out of colourful paper - folded origami style. He had trouble with the first few, but quickly got proficient at it. He made 6 stars and 6 wishes.
When we left the house to go to the hospital, It was raining on one side of our house and sunny on the other side. We spotted a beautiful rainbow that arc over the hospital area as we saw it from the house. It faded in a few minutes only to reappear as we drove to the hospital, this time one end of the rainbow was at the pool where the 10 Km race started 90 days ago.
The coincidence wasn’t lost on the children. They insisted that I drive to the pool to find the end, but alas it vanished. Stolen away by the mysterious forces of nature. Tara wondered aloud if it was the work of leprechauns. Seventeen leprechauns in fact … because 17 is one of her favorite numbers and and St Patrick’s Day.
Megan and her special friend, Jason came to visit. Jason had written the newspaper article about you in the local paper. He is a sports fan and is interested in your talk with Rod Carew. The children and I leave you to visit with them.
After our visit with you, we take Annie for a hike through the woods. Quinn didn’t want to go initially but soon was leading the way. Annie loves our off leash walks. We spotted three deer on the walk. Annie froze and stared at the deer, the deer froze and stared at us. It was a stare-off. Realizing the deer would win this encounter. We walked slowly away and after a minute, the deer did too.
Tara and Quinn are happy walking along finding treasures and doing mystical math. “Mummy, I think I figured it out: I saw 5 rainbows and Quinn made 6 wishing stars at Daddy’s, 1 special day and 17 leprechauns. That adds up to 29. This IS a special day.
She is back to the Tara I knew before your stroke. She is trying to find magic again.
Last night, Janice worked at trying to move your wedding ring from your left hand. The fingers are swelling because your arm is not mobile. She finally got it off and put it on your other hand. This morning you found it on your right and wanted me to put it back. It wouldn’t fit. We left it on your right hand. Hopefully the next time it is moved, you can do it yourself.
Janice’s daughter, Erica is a budding artist. She painted a sign for you. It’s half black and half white. It says ‘Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying’. This is a line from a movie that moved you before the stroke, Erica hopes it will cause you to move now. The black and white format is meaningful – there is no middle ground – you have committed to living but every little bit of encouragement is good.
Fran got in this afternoon and visited you then came over to spend a little time with the children, while I visit you. I wanted to talk to you privately. It’s a long over due talk. I share with you the challenges that I’ve had trying to juggle your needs with the children’s. I knew you would agree that the children must come first.
I don’t feel that I’ve put them first lately and the pull between your needs and their needs is getting to me. I cry, I mean really sob for the first time since the stroke night. I cry with my head on your chest. You are frustrated too. The time distortion is still very real to you and although you try to rationalize it – intuitively you still feel like I’m never by your side. This is a hard disconnect to reconcile. We agree to keep trying. It will be hard.
Today was a great day. I feel connected with Tara again and I feel a new and deeper understanding with you. Days like this make all the other days worth it.