17 February 2012

I am so steeped in nostalgia in its full meaning, “a yearning for the past, often in idealized form.” I don’t remember the past being so tantalizing, so easy to idealize. Ok, so the feeling make sense and I accept them for what they are, but they are a bit of a rut. An unsatisfying loop that I’d like to move out of. Of course I want to move along and out before I’ve touched bottom. The line between fully experiencing and wallowing is very hard for me to see. I have no wish to wallow in nostalgia because there is alway and only pain at the end of that path, but I want full experience if only to be finished, completed, processed, with the guarantee that I do not have to sink so far into the muck again.

I’ve had to postpone the sorting of Cheshire’s early “art” in favor of a two-day clean up. It took almost an entire day to go through, sort, and re-arrange the play room that holds all of Julia’s toys and therapy aids. I am sure that crayons multiply and puzzle pieces move on their own accord. And papers with exercises, instructions, advice, and scholarly articles hide under shelves, in picture books and in every folder. I did not touch my desk which sorely needs to be touched and ordered, and cannot decide at present whether to make the desk my mission today or to allow myself to go back to the grand sort. Such decisions! I laugh at myself.

When I am stuck in the yearning for the idealized past, there is some delight in the wishing I could be back in the long ago, or even the not so long ago, and the yearning clings like honey on fingers after you’ve touched a sticky jar. It infects days, it makes the present pale. It is not that I have never been here before but that I have not so taken notice of it. I feel like I will never get out of it, like it is a trap for all time, and that there is no tomorrow that could be worth looking for and expending energy for.

For myself, it comes with the devil of fear. I can be terrified that I will find nothing to do, that I will need to make money and have no way to do it. That I will be lonely and unhappy all of my life, and useless as well.

Is that the bottom of the nostalgia well? If not the bottom, a low ledge. Once I am there, I cannot take that as my belief in the future. In life. I do long for the sureness of a decision, and I am afraid, quite a reasonable fear considering my past, that I will no idea what the decision should be and will wander aimlessly forever. But even aimless wandering can be in the present, possibly even a happy present.

Much later.

As we checked in at chalice group this morning, one of the members told us that her husband who has been very ill is not sleeping most of his days. He is trying to get his papers organized to give to the University’s archives. He is more than half done but now he can only work on them every few days and then only for a few hours at a time. She talked of his acceptance of death. He has accepted it more fully than she can.

I have no words, but I nod and hope my silence give her a tiny bit of strength.

Another member is turning 70 later this year and has decided to do 70 kindnesses for her year. We assured her that she must do many more than 70 kindnesses in a year’s time, but she spoke of intentional kindness. She wants to look for kindnesses that she can do and she wants to write them down to keep track. This act of intention changes the nature of the act. Intention changes everything.

I have no place to go with that thought. I don’t understand it yet although I know it to be true.

Traci commented on Julia’s secret friend presents that she hoped that the child receiving the presents appreciated. She did! Julia’s secret friend is a little girl who has a special fondness for Julia and she was thrilled with the large picture -- this child has a pet parakeet who is very dear to her -- and the exploding box. And the candy that was inside. I was so pleased that it was this child because the is a very sweet girl, and also because this might be a friend for Julia.

Julia now has art homework. She has been given a small sketch pad by her art teacher. Julia is to draw during the week and bring it into class of Friday. I have to check with the teacher to find out if Julia is supposed to be drawing something special. This is a good exercise for her. Drawing consistently and by assignment is excellent training. Is everything therapy for this child? Almost. Every direction and lesson and even every play time needs to do double and triple duty to get another habit into her. I cannot and do not waste the precious time of her childhood that is left to me. We -- teachers, therapists, and me -- are all working on conversation right now. We ask questions of her, modeling the behavior that we want, and then prompt her to ask it of us. Many, many times a day. All in the hope that this child can learn to be a friend so that she can have friends.

On Thursday, Julia worked on the next two pages of “A Dinosaur’s Tale” with Marilyn. She was so happy to work on the first two page last week that were about a mommy and daddy t-rex have a lovely egg, expecting it to hatch, and loving their little hatchling. In this week’s pages the mommy and daddy realize that they cannot take care of their baby, they wrap her up, and look for a place to leave her. They find a big nest where other little dinosaurs are being looked after by a nurse or Ayi dinosaur. Julia was grim faced when we read the first of these pages together but she was willing to draw. She drew and then she wrote a sentence underneath the picture on the lines provided. When Marilyn asked how she felt about the picture, Julia said sad and angry. Last week, she wanted to be the egg and the baby and wanted me to be the mommy t-rex. This week, she knows that she is the baby but I am not the mommy. I told her that if I had been the mommy that I would have taken her home and loved her. She asked if the mommy t-rex was her China mommy. And we told her, yes.

She understands.

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