Honest Tears.

I wanted to post something happy today.  Some bit of light.  And so I stared at the blank page.  Nothing came.  Then, out of honesty, this flowed from my heart.  There’s a bit of happy if you look.

My mom improved enough to qualify leaving the hospital cardiac monitoring unit.  She does not qualify enough to eat more than baby food.  She cannot drink water.  She does not qualify to have her PICC line removed.  She does not qualify to walk, to toilet herself, to go home.

And so there is fear.  Fear of the “n” word.  We don’t say “nursing” home in front of my dad.  Her choices, per dad, were “acute rehab” with intense physical therapy or home.

When you see that fear in the face of your parents, you have to come to grips with the reality that you are on your own.  You cannot even think of leaning back any longer.  Because, even though I haven’t leaned on them in many years, in the back of my mind, there was always that availability.  Now, I stand alone and own it.

Instead of dependence, you provide support.  You are their strength.  You have no right to show your own fear or pain.  You cannot share your own problems.  Even though, they are there inside you.  You cannot show them. So you push it all down and give praise and compliments and hugs and kisses.

You provide encouragement about how this is just a stepping stone to home.  “You must work hard to get home and grow tomatoes in your garden.  You must come home and pick the oranges off the tree.  Watch the persimmons grow.  Plant zucchini and cucumbers.”  My mom loves her garden.  She is working to go home to this.

Together forever, my dad stays with her at the new acute care facility on the hospital campus now.  The plan is to strengthen her enough to send her home.  They transferred her during the worst storm of the year.  Wild winds in excess of 55 miles per hour in a driving rain.  No breaks of sun.  And I walk through it all carrying bags of blankets and supplies and clothes, going here and there.

Early in the morning, before the transfer, the dam broke for me.  The virus, the fear, the exhaustion, the tugging and pulling in all directions tore down my wall.  There had been no sleep because I could not breathe.  I was shaking.  My hands were no longer in my control.

There were tears.  They happened silently with no sobbing.  In utter defeat, I gave in.  Unfortunately, the tears happened in my son’s presence.  He watched his dad comfort me.  He showed no emotion, at first.  Then, he walked over to me, hugged my back and said, “Mommy, be happy.”   It was the sweetest thing in the world.  I turned around and hugged him tight.  That hug gave me the strength that I did not know I had left inside me.

Then, it was his turn.  Some two hours later, in the middle of the storm, he began to yell. He scripted and bluffed, counted, cried and screamed.  In the rain.  Wind howling all day long.  The kind of cries that send shock waves through your nervous system.

His routines were disrupted and tossed aside today.  No rest for either of us.  Stress filled the air.  Worry was in our hearts.  For different reasons, but the same emotion overcame us both.  He was in meltdown off and on all day long.

The bath at night finally calmed him.

Sometimes, most times, I can put it all away.  When there is a sunny day.  There can be laughter.  Happy chatter.  Times when slight changes don’t matter.

I want to get out of this dark hole.  I want to see the light again.  I want to hold hope in my heart and dance with my son.  Play on the swings.  Run in the park.  Try to fly a kite with no wind.  I want to laugh and tickle and love my life again.  Because, in spite of everything that’s happened, in spite of the daily interference of the disability that tries to come between us, my son provides me with a very special kind of love.  A love like no other.

As I finish this post, he loudly proclaims, “I love you, mommy!”  from across the room.  He’s switching the lights off and on at the same time and playing his Elmo that sings the same pizza song for the 20th time, busting out my stuffed up eardrums.  He’s laughing and asking me to repeat phrases and sounds.

I’m not teaching him anything or correcting him right this minute.  I’m letting him be. Because, in this moment, it’s like the meltdowns never happened.  One small, winning smile from him with an “I love you”, is enough to give me a moment of sweet peace that will carry me through to the next day when we start fresh again.


About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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24 Responses to Honest Tears.

  1. I’m surprised you didn’t see the parallel in your story — or maybe you did and you just didn’t mention it. Are you testing your readers perhaps?

    Things have broken down for your parents with your mom’s illness. And somewhere inside you, you dig up the strength to be strong for them. You give support ant help them to cope. You are a good daughter.

    Yet, things also broke down for you — from the stress of everything you are going through. Your son saw that and he dug deep to offer his strength to you.

    Even though he did eventually go into meltdown, that simple understanding of emotion and that desire to help someone he cares about… THAT is hope. Your son, despite the difficulties autism puts on him, is a good son. He knows love and he can return it.

    My heart is heavy for you Karen. I wish there was something I could do to ease your burden. But I am also happy for you. This story about your son shows that despite everything that is going on, he IS making progress. If he can do this well during a troubling time, imagine what he can do when things start to even out again!

  2. Kelly says:

    Oh yes. Children doing all they can to offer comfort to a parent going through something they cannot quite understand. Full circle.

    Beautiful post.

    I know about those unexpected I Love Yous and how they can buouy us up when we start to go under.

    Well wishes and warm thoughts to your entire family. Stay strong, Karen. ❤

  3. You are being so strong for your family, and I just wanted to wish you all well. That’s so awesome that your son said that at just right moment- what a sweetie!

  4. Lizbeth says:

    I think Karla summed it up beautifully. I can say no more.

  5. Julie says:

    Karla gave me chills 🙂

    I’m glad to hear your Mom is in acute rehab. You can only be strong for so long and then you need to break down and rebuild yourself. Sometimes you have to do it alone but you are blessed to have two wonderful fellows to help build you back up. You are all in my prayers and I’m sending healing thoughts to you, your son and your Mom.

  6. Big Daddy says:

    It is amazing what an “I love you,” or “Mommy, be happy” accompanied by a big squeezy hug can do for your morale. Especially coming from kids like ours.

    Still have you and your mom in my thoughts and prayers.

  7. Jontybabe says:

    Made me cry!!! Thoughts with u all. X

  8. Danica says:

    So many wonderful things have been posted already, by some pretty great people :o) . Many of which I was thinking as well while reading it this morning.
    Like others have said I also think it is amazing how one little phrase said by a small child along with a hug can somehow make things a little better. Almost heal us from inside.
    I don’t want to sound redundant LOL… I will say this… I also think it is wonderful thing you are doing for your parents. They are so blessed to have you for their daughter. I am so happy to hear she is progressing. Every little thing adds up.
    While I was reading this I just wanted to reach out and give you a **hug** I think you are a fantastic mom, daughter and just a very honest compassionate person. We are all lucky to know you. Thank you for sharing parts of your life with us all..

    • solodialogue says:

      Thanks, Dani. Your words are so kidn. I’m really lucky to know you and everyone here and on Twitter who gives me so much amazing support! You are a sweetheart. My parents do express their love often which is good but also makes me a “happy-sad” if you know what I mean. And yes, every little thing adds up. We had some breaks in the clouds. She’s in rehab. And I think this is the part where it starts to turn around for the better (you know me – knock on wood!) 🙂

  9. jnettlee says:

    You simply have no idea how difficult this subject matter is for me to read… my wounds are still raw and bleeding. And yet, I keep coming back… because I want to feel it WITH you, FOR you, as in sharing your pain, your fear.. taking some of your burden if only I could.
    I understand only too well.

    Small steps in the right direction.
    It’s not the size of the steps. It’s the direction in which they go.

    Your mother is able to take only small steps until she regains her strength. But they are heading for that garden.


    • solodialogue says:

      Jeanette, you have been my rock and you have helped with this burden so much! Just by reading your words, I feel so much support and strength.

      Yes, you are right that they are small steps but in the right direction and I’m going to start that garden when the rain clears. xo back!

  10. bbsmum says:

    Everyone else has already said it all. So from me, just a (hug)

  11. This was so beautiful. I’m thrilled that amongst the sadness you got to enjoy such tender moments from your son. Simply perfect.

  12. Broot says:

    Ka pai to mahi, Karla. Well said.

    **hugs** to Karen!!

  13. eof737 says:

    My heart goes out to you Karen… I don’t know what else to say. Your son picked up your needs intuitively and his words were beautiful. Sending love and prayers to all of you.

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