While we were on vacation, I felt a deep sense of calm.
This seems like an obvious way to feel while vacationing, but I haven’t before experienced it at this level. I was truly peaceful. Truman shrieked and wailed a number of times—it didn’t rile me. Charlie had rigidity issues relating to clothing and other minutiae, meanwhile I was a placid pool of water, unfazed by the mini-meltdowns (all meltdowns feel small compared to Jack’s teen-sized tantrums).
When we returned home, I felt happy to be here. I’ve mentioned before that this is a novel feeling for me after leaving town. Before, a return from a trip meant stepping back into the constant gale force winds that blew through my life for thirteen years. One can’t approach the end of a vacation without foreboding and despair when one knows regular life is going to resume kicking one’s can as it reliably has for so very long.
I understand the “home, sweet home” sentiment now. While home isn’t perfect, it isn’t a boot camp with people screaming in my face or Code Brown cleanup duty at all hours of the day. It’s a pleasant place to come back to.
Home needs a lot of attention with regard to paint, flooring, and basically anything Jack ever touched. But home is ours, and it’s peaceful now. It’s a place of refuge where before, it wasn’t. We used to live in the equivalent of an airport. It was always chaotic. People were always stressed. There was always movement, hurrying, busyness. It wasn’t restful and the bathrooms were gross.
For many years, I only liked my house when it was dark outside (and in). When the boys were asleep and Jeff and I watched Victoria or The Crown or Downton Abbey, I liked the way the muted light of the TV played off the surfaces in the great room. In the dark, I couldn’t see the damage to the walls. The beat-upon dining table just looked like a table-shaped shadow. The kitchen counter tops gleamed dimly, and I felt that one area of my house/family/life was neat, respectable, and under control.
I only felt this way at night when the guys were in bed and Jeff and I claimed the evening as ours. Otherwise, the house was Terminal 2 of JFK.
I had a pretty decent sized breakdown last night thinking about Jack. No matter how much peace I find during the day or while on vacation, late-night exhaustion inevitably sneaks up on me at one point or another and I once again descend into the pit.
The pit isn’t a place where I question if we did the right thing. I know we did, because we did what God told us to do. But I am wracked with sorrow at the separation of Jack from our family. We no longer handle the daily struggle of Jack’s care, but we also don’t get to see his sweet moments. We are removed from the positive as well as the negative, and sometimes the weight of this lands painfully on me.
When I finally drifted off to sleep, the sadness remained. But I found that it was manageable, palpably contained by a calm steadiness that descended on me. This calm did not originate within me. It came after I prayed for relief, and for Jack, and for the ability to move forward.
I’m inching onward.