Vacation Mode

I watched “The Notebook” today as I am in vacation-without-kids mode. I’ve never seen it before, and it seems to be this movie that people reference all the time as a quintessential romance film, so I felt it was time. What I found is that it’s just another Nicholas Sparks story, with a fairly high level of sap, predictability, and all the overused tropes. And yet, I watched the whole thing. By myself. On the center of the lovely king-sized bed, with no interruptions or outside demands. I didn’t love it, nor do I regret it.

A true vacation, from the mom demands.

My mind feels like it has gone somewhat dormant over the past week. I had been in such a high state of stress and grief for so long, with a ramping up of both to peak levels in recent months. Now, I feel a bit like my brain is floating in a dish, disconnected from everything around it. My mind is resting, I guess, along with my body.

I created a list of all the things I would like to do, now that my life isn’t so rigidly confined by Jack’s needs. But it seems a little daunting to me, at the moment. I’m still exhausted by grief, which inexplicably saps one’s energy. Even when you’re not actually doing anything, it’s nevertheless emotionally strenuous.

Exhibit A: I woke up late this morning, ate breakfast, and got back in bed where I promptly took a nap. I think it is my psyche allowing myself to be still and relaxed after years of hyper-focused attention on surviving. I’m not fighting it.

But there will come a day when hibernation won’t be enough. I’ll be ready for something more. I’ll grow bored of grief, maybe. I’ll need distraction. It will be time to dust off the list of pursuits and begin working at them.

For now, I’m not sure how my writing qualifies as “true stories in special-needs parenting,” unless we decide to embrace the grief part of disabilities parenting. It’s still the story of my life and my family’s life. It’s still being driven, to a large extent, by the needs of my children. But for the first time in a very long time, I do not feel that my life is tragically, painfully limited. I sense an opening, an expansiveness that was not there before. It couldn’t be there before. Jack needed structure, organization, routine, and boundaries. Those boundaries confined me, even as they reassured him.

In his new home, Jack finally has the intensive structure and constant level of care that he needs.

Meanwhile, the walls have fallen away from around me. I am open, and in a transitional state of preparing to see what comes next. I pray for Jack’s peace of mind and adjustment to his new surroundings, and I sort of wonder what God has in store for me, now that I’m not Jack’s caregiver. I’m not ready to start asking God for insights yet. But I’m open to possibilities. I feel unafraid of change, perhaps because all of it seems so much easier than what I was living before.

During the awful period leading up to Jack’s placement, I dreamed of a boat and a beach. They are beautiful and reassuring images to me. I’m holding them in my heart, which can mull them over while my brain is dormant in the dish.


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