Julia has been very cooperative with me for days. It may be a new cooperation; it may be something back from before her skin condition flared. She is doing more than the usual amount of playing or talking about violent dinosaurs. She is also angry at me when I insist that she look at me when I am directing her, but that anger is usually short lived and manageable by her for the most part. Last week, I started expecting her to greet people in what I consider a proper way. Julia has to stop what she is doing, say hello, and ask an appropriate question, like how are you. When someone leaves, she must stop what she is doing, walk with them to the door, and have something appropriate to say. Both of these can be hard for her sometimes, no, they are hard for her all the time. She has the chance to practice greeting and leave taking with her line therapist and their coming and going usually coincides with something that she passionately wants to do, like coloring or setting up dinosaur games. To some extent Julia’s behavior is nothing more than typical 11 year old behavior, grown ups forgive it and kids may not care, but for Julia any social interaction comes after a lot of practice and I don’t think we can wait until she is 15 to start that practice.
Watching Julia walk the dog these days makes my heart glad. We go together, I don’t know when and if I will ever trust her alone, and she can hold on to the leash the entire walk. She must still be reminded at times to let the dog spend some time sniffing and doing her business, but Julia is slowly becoming more aware of those necessities. Sometimes, when Latkah is in the mood, the two of them run together a bit ahead of me. Sometimes Julia skips, in an awkward and deliberate way, but skips with some abandon and much joy. She tells me that it is a good day. When I see this, I do feel like we have both gotten the gift of her childhood.
Sometimes Julia tries to be deliberate about laughing. She does not laugh much. I would impulsively say that she never laughs but I don’t think that is true. I don’t laugh much these days and I expect that our lives have some bearing on this, but Julia does not like to be tickled and she does not yet understand most jokes. Yes, there has been some laughter and there has certainly been delight. It will come, I tell her. Don’t force it, I tell her. It comes to me that when once yawning was a very rare occurrence, it is now common and daily indicates when Julia is tired. I remember realizing that Julia never yawned and watched her so carefully in case I had overstated the idea in my head. Now, I think that we must wait for laughter. Just be patient and it will come. There are signs now and again of some sense of humor. Perhaps she will begin to laugh regularly when I am ready to be funny with her.
3:53 and I am awake and typing. I have been better this week about sleeping entire nights and providing myself with better sleep habits, but I have been having difficulty getting to the Y and getting into the work of completing the sorting of stuff that I have again taken up. I write “completing” but right now it looks like a unending mountain of papers and debris that refuses to be separated and made orderly. I second guess myself when I discard old greeting cards and programs. Will I one day be relieved that I’ve kept some of these things? In one box, I find a small pile of get well cards from the time of David’s transplant. I have no idea what to do with these. I find one from David’s aunt who died a few months before he did and I suddenly realize the effort that it must have cost her to make sure that David had her good wishes. She could not have been well at that time. But that is the rare card, one that has more than the regular wishes for recovering health. And yet, to throw the greetings from former and current employees and friends away -- I will not remember these people, even if I can recall them right now. But, my mind churns on, these were the last get well cards the David received. Does that make them worthy to be kept? In the end, I give up the deliberation and realize that I will probably keep more of the paper related to or received during those months before and after David’s death than I really need to. Maybe one day I will weed more out, or maybe it will be left for Cheshire and Julia to do.
These days are not easy. I am having trouble moving on, as if the next part of this process of fallow lying is something insurmountable. I want to do the tasks I’ve set for myself, but I feel the malaise of the middle. I do not have the end in sight. I have not yet gained any great insight to spur me on to completion. I have lost the excitement of a new plan when expectation is high and the time is all promise and possibility. I am forced to push though every day, and at times I long for the end of day and the oblivion of sleep, which for now has escaped me. Part of me believes that all I need to do is to get off my butt and do what I’ve set out to do. Part is not interested. I cannot see the crack of light I wrote about on Sunday, and sometimes I no longer believe that it is even there. Talking to Lisa today, I’ve begun to admit to regret, something that has not been a part of my process of grieving. Maybe it is inevitable and a process requirement. Regret stings, and for me at least, it is not about huge life decisions but for the smaller experiences. I did not know a dying David. We did not have the chance to say good-bye or to talk endlessly about what life would be like for me after he died. Up to now, I have not felt or admitted to this. I am not sure which. Regret is like guilt. I cannot see what purpose it serves. It wastes time and energy. But then, there it is.
Lisa said that it sounded like the process was happening and that possibly this was the time before discovery, that a-ha moment, when the old, the what needs to be moved and changed is making a last ditch effort to hold itself in place. In some way, it is the last possible time of failure, and that is it may be the hardest time. And maybe, she is right and I will in a few months look back at this time, this writing, and smile and sigh. Oh yes, that time demanded so much trust and faith in process. But right now, it is just hard without reward.
Ok, it is now 4:32 and reading this over, it sounds so much more desperate than I feel. Over lunch yesterday, a friend talked about her own process of changing focus and in passing said that she did not have privilege of a fallow year. I would have said that a few years ago. This time that I describe as such a burden is a privilege and gift. Change, enlightenment, deepening is not easily won.
I know all that. And still, I feel the pain and complain. Julia will laugh; I will once again know joy. I have to believe these things. It is the reason to rest and the reason to awaken again. Even perceiving that I am standing still may be movement. Coming to see the observer and the observed is movement.