If the children got up early this morning, I promised them a swim in the pool. Lenore’s apartment has a small pool and the children love it. They would spend hours in it if they could. They have quite a complicated game to do with dolphins and seahorses and other magnificent sea creatures that they can communicate with in the pool if a special spell is said.
They were playing happily then suddenly Quinn becomes sad. He and Tara were playing and he pulled on Tara’s ear lobe. The ‘I’m sad and I don’t know why’ sign. He gets out of the pool while Tara puts the sea creatures to bed. I suspected that it had something to do with your dialogues from yesterday. Your doubts about being a good Daddy.
Quinn sits on my knee and we talk. We talk about the conscious and subconscious mind and the possibility that sometimes when one feels really sad and don’t know why; it’s because the subconscious mind is worried. “Your subconscious mind may send you messages in your sleep in the form of dreams or it may just make you feel sad for no apparent reason.” I suggested. Quinn thought that I might be right but he was still in an ‘ear lobe pulling’ mood.
As we pull into the NSRC and unload the car, Quinn’s gray skies brightened a bit and he said in a hopeful voice. “I know what we can do today.” By the sound of his voice, I thought he was going to say go to the circus, or Sea World or Disneyland. But he didn’t. He said, “Maybe we can get Daddy walking again today.”
Oh boy, I didn’t know what to say to this. “Some day Quinny, Someday Daddy will walk again.”
You start talking again about how you don’t know how you will be a father to the children. You can’t imagine what life will look like once you are home. I have a hard time imagining this too but for different reasons. You restate that the children don’t need you because I’m doing such a great job. Frustrated with your line of thinking, I cry out “I am not two people. I have hardly read to Quinn at all this year and I can rarely find time to guide him through his homework. They need you, I need you!”
After a moment to reflect these thoughts you say “I need the kids to make me feel human, to feel like a father.”
This morning Tara mentioned, when she was getting dressed, that she had a wart on her face. “A wart?” I said “Let me see.” It was a pimple. I told you about it. Together we broke the news that it was a sign, one of many signs, for puberty. She doesn’t believe us.
We played the Valentine’s day game that we started yesterday. We hid the love notes that we wrote throughout the whole fourth floor. With each note was a heart chocolate. Each of us wrote five love notes for each person in the family along with one for themselves. It was great fun. Tara and Quinn really got into it and had to help us find our cleverly hidden notes.
When it came to the challenge of writing something that you love about yourself, Quinn won. Since he is in French immersion and hasn’t been taught much English yet, his spelling was a little creative. Mixing up the English ‘e’ sound for the French ’i’ sound. His note was simple “I love Mi”. Tara is a close second. “If I want to stop doing something, I have enough determination to keep going.” I think you came in third place with “I have such a great family.” I stumbled through the challenge. The best that I could come up with was “I am a good organizer.”
When I asked Tara about her love note to herself, she said that she got her determination from you and her organizing skills from me. The fact is, I don’t particularly love that about myself, I like it …but it’s also a curse because I get so caught up in the planning and executing of a project that I can’t truly enjoy the process or the outcome. This game is an excellent example. Just one of the many life lessons that I have to learn sometime.
As the children play. We talk. Your guilt is revealed. “I’ll never be who I was, for the rest of my life I will have restrictions on how complete a person I can be. I hate that … I hate that I can’t make up to you the shortcomings from my previous life. I want to make things right – the stroke and God has seen to it that I can not make a full recovery and it saddens me and makes me angry. I feel very sorry for you and the kids. I will try my damnest … but I don’t know how much I can do.”
“That’s not God’s role. God doesn’t punish. God gives you strength. God helps you find a way. If you have faith that God will help you find a way then it will happen.” I said. “There have been so many signs that I have seen since your stroke that gave me hope – even when the day was very dark with despair … I saw signs. I still see signs that we will find our way to contentment and acceptance with however this will turn out. You have to have faith. The signs have told me that we are on the right track and that’s why I wanted to write the journal so you would see the signs and know what I know.”
“Your stroke was a random event – it just happened. It wasn’t because you smoked or lied to us about it. It was not because you were a bad person. It isn’t punishment. If God intended to punish you, why doesn’t he punish other people who done far worse things then being a closet smoker? Why is God punishing me? Why is God punishing the children? We didn’t deserve this … no one deserves this – it just happened. It was a random event.”
“God is helping us find our way through this journey. God has been watching us and see that we are good people who have real love for each other and God sees that we need help. We have been given signs to keep us going. The signs have kept me going. I want to pass the strength onto you.” I wrote about the signs to help you see them too.”
“Although we don’t know what life will look like later, the signs show us that you are on the right track to being a happier and better person then we were before. You have to have faith in the process. The process is about the recovery right now. This recovery process is for all of us.”
My mixture of logic and philosophic reasoning doesn’t seem to help you understand. At least … not yet. Your mind isn’t ready to embrace this approach. I suspect that your ability to process these feelings is impaired with the stroke. You share a lot of the same feelings with your parents on the phone. They are as confused as I am as to why you are so hard on yourself.
The irony of the situation is that your stroke has dealt you some big losses and the ability to process these losses is also impaired … that leaves you stuck in a very bad place.
Tara got quite distressed just before we had to leave. I’m always on edge when we have to leave, Tara dawdled and I got angry. She wanted some ‘alone time’ to think to herself but we need to go and you needed to fix her hurt. You were worried that her wanting to be alone and not talking will lead to secrets, secrets lead to lies and you feel that lies brought you this punishment.
All this talk made our departure even harder then it usually is.
In the car on the way home I let Tara be quiet for a while. Then she started to talk. Slowly at first and then faster and faster. She lets her bad feelings spill out. She is scared that you are different and that you aren’t funny like you used to be. “I just want my Daddy back. Daddy gave people the key to laughter and that’s what makes him so special.”
Verbalizing this helped her find her way to a plan. Like me, she needs a plan. Her plan evolved quickly. “I need to write about it, maybe a book or … a song and a poem. I’ll compose a song and write the words and sing it.” That will be her gift to you to help you heal.
Now Tara is full speed ahead – talking fast and furious and loud. She is excited and when I said that I thought Daddy’s new addiction was a talking addiction, she went into orbit with about a 3 minutes monologue without breathing as to way that would be bad because she is the one that needs to talk. I can picture our family’s future. You and Tara competing for talking time and Quinn and I becoming very good listeners.
At bedtime we call you and I let you know how things were with Tara and the two of you had a good talk. You both felt better after. As we talk, Tara started to write her song for you. We talked about tomorrow. Both of us are a little apprehensive about the meeting tomorrow – we hope it is about the plan for the future rather then about acknowledging more losses.