This week, I cleaned out Jack’s old room, which is now a storage room. The good news is, the camping gear, Halloween costumes, snow pants and boots, my dad’s old golf clubs, and my wedding dress are now organized and easily accessible (side note: I do not need easy access to my wedding dress). The part that took me by surprise was the wave of emotion I experienced in going through remnants of Jack’s early childhood. Baby blankets, photographs, his PECS binder, ABA therapy file folders–there was just so much that brought the most difficult years of my life back, and it was amplified by my separation from Jack in space and time.
Who weeps when cleaning out an explosively disorganized room? Me, apparently.
Jeff and I went to Costco later that day and I told him on the way home how profoundly affected I felt going through items reminiscent of Jack’s toddler and elementary school years. “I didn’t miss Jack at that moment,” I told him. “I am confident and happy in where Jack is right now. I’m not sad as much as I am traumatized remembering how brutally hard those years were.”
And then Jeff said exactly the right thing, which was this: “You did that. You went through it.”
Validation. It’s pretty powerful.
Those days were brutal, and are, fortunately, in the past.
I also drove to southern Utah this week and spent much of the drive contemplating Jack. He lives far away. We don’t get to see him much. When we do see him, he can’t talk to me. The good parts are that Jack’s needs are being met by excellent caregivers who love him. The hard parts are that we miss out on the moments of sweetness that come from being with Jack all the time.
Its a weird trade off and I don’t know that it will ever feel normal to me.
Because of this separation, I have acutely felt the need to have a family photo in Jack’s town so he can be there. I need to have an updated image of all of us together, not from bygone days when Jack lived at home, but current and reflective of our present life as a family. So that’s happening this trip, too. Someone asked me if Jack will cooperate with the photo shoot, and I told them that all he has to do is exist in our general vicinity and it will work out great. No posing or smiling at the camera necessary, just lots of candid togetherness.
Even though I’m waxing a bit glum (or at least conflicted) about The Way Things Are For Us, the reality is that Jack’s life is a miracle.
Our ability to function as a family has been restored, which is a miracle.
Jack’s perfect placement and lovely home and amazing caregivers are a miracle.
The fact that our lives changed so dramatically and so quickly and so positively are miracles.
My life felt like wall-to-wall failure Before, and Now it is straight up a testament to God’s ability to intervene and change the worst circumstances to something remarkable and beautiful.
And feeling comfort in knowing Jack’s life is charmed and blessed? Miraculous.