Julia and I went to my ultrasound appointment. I have a neuroma, an inflammation of the common digital nerve between adjacent toes on the bottom of the foot. Not serious, very common, and unfortunately kind of painful. I’ve known about it for a few years, and visited a foot doctor a few times just before we found out that David needed a heart transplant. (Haven’t I written this before? Sorry. I can’t find it.) I had a few steroid shots when I first visited a doctor which gave me only temporary relief and the next step was surgery which would put me out of commission for a week or two and give me limited mobility for about 6 weeks. Not terrible but I didn’t want to do that while we waited for a heart.
Well, it still hurts and it is time to fix it. I didn’t plan to bring Julia to the ultrasound but going today meant I had an appointment before February. She was great and it was good for her to see it as well. Every so often Julia does react to my circumstances in such a way that I know that she is afraid of losing me like she lost David. Today, was one of those circumstances. She was clingy and told me that she was taking me to the doctors. She checked if I was getting any shots, even though I’ve told her that I don’t mind shots.
It was both fortunate and unfortunate that we went to the UW clinic building where David did his rehab after transplant. Julia remembered it and we talked about how Daddy had exercised after his transplant and gotten stronger. Julia wanted to know which of the people exercising had new hearts and wanted them to be careful. She was nervous in the ultrasound room and had a hard time sitting and coloring. She popped up and down, and wanted to be very close to the tech who was taking pictures of my foot. Julia kept asking if it hurt me and wanted to know what the tech was seeing that was wrong with my foot. The tech was very nice to us, answering all of Julia’s questions and responding to Julia’s run on commentary about dinosaurs. She was pretty nervous.
Later, during attachment therapy, she told Marilyn that she was worried about me. She was scared. I want Julia to be comfortable with my being “sick” and recovering. It may take awhile and might be reason enough to put off surgery for a few months.
During attachment therapy, Julia worked on a picture of her birthmother pregnant. She insisted that her birth mother was happy. When Marilyn suggested that her birth mother might be sad or scared, Julia loudly protested. She wanted Marilyn to stop talking, she was clear that she did not want to continue the conversation. Marilyn started tapping with Julia -- really tapping on herself but for Julia. Julia said under her breath that she wanted to tell Marilyn to “shut her mouth” but was not going to say it. Of course, she did say it. Marilyn thanked her for not saying it too loud and then continued with tapping about not wanting to talk about her birthmother’s sadness. Julia was willing to repeat that she forgave herself for not wanting to talk about her birthmother, and that she forgave Marilyn for continuing to talk about it. After tapping, Marilyn asked Julia if she was feeling any better and Julia said that she was. Julia went back to drawing a dinosaur and Marilyn began collecting the workbook that Julia drew her birth mother in. Marilyn said one more thing about Julia’s birthmother and Julia suddenly volunteered that her birthmother was very sad because she had to leave Julia alone and that she had to go away. She volunteered that her birthmother had known that she could not keep baby Julia even when she was pregnant.
Of course, we don’t know what, if any of this, is true. Julia was abandoned as a very young infant. Her file said she was 10 days old when she was found. But it is also clear that Julia is scared and sad and feels the sting of that first abandonment. That she can go from not willing to go to that painful place to feeling some of the sadness of her earliest experiences is the opening of a flower. It is a step towards healing.
As I was coming back to clinic tonight to pick Julia up from therapy, I grabbed a warmer pair of gloves. They were my mother’s, part of the small and ordinary things that I took as I cleaned out her house. Nothing special, but a soft black fake suede on the outside and lined with microfleece. Good, warm gloves. I thought nothing of them, but when I put them on, I looked down at my hands. I had bought David a pair of gloves that were very similar to these of my mother’s and I remember his hands in those gloves. For no reason, but a flood of memories washed over me. Just about his hands. I did not stop the flow, I did not turn away, I let it happen. I remember David’s hands -- holding David’s hands, looking at his fingers, watching them type, write, draw as he talked on the phone, watching him play music -- the drums, his base, the piano. I remember how they felt -- not workman’s hands but callused from playing his double base, callused and then not from years of not playing and then callused again. I remember reaching into his coat pocket on a cold spring day and taking his hand. David was an expert at intense looks but had I not taken his hand there may not have been much more of an interchange. I remember those hands on my face and through my hair and holding me tightly. How very strange it is to remember this very specific part of him. I never thought of it at any time, but I expected to see those hands grow old and gnarl up a bit. And that will never happen. Still, I remember David’s hands.