Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Grief and Gratitude

It's summer. I'm thankful for the job the school district offered me three years ago that allows me to spend it at home with my kids. I'm a ten month employee, so we have to watch our pennies, but it's working.

My oldest is volunteering at a Waldorf camp for preschoolers. We were part of the original school initiative from the time she was a few  months old until I was pregnant with Daniel. There's another volunteer just a year younger than her who was a member of the playgroup we attended all those years ago. I have pictures of the two of them at a birthday party sixteen years ago. We lost touch with the group shortly afterwards, so reconnecting is a pleasant surprise.

A Waldorf school is a magical place, with lots of color and craft and an emphasis on imaginative play. The lead teacher at the camp also happens to be a former special education teacher. My daughter has found her mentor, and I couldn't be happier. She's experiencing a different way of educating first-hand. There's no yelling, no time-outs, no harshness at all. Discipline is gentle, the rhythm is calm. There's a centered happiness about the days.

This is our first summer without my mom. Usually we drive to Illinois to spend time with the whole family at some point. Next month Daniel begins summer school, and he just started physical and occupational therapy with two therapists who make the "work" fun. At home we're spending a lot of time in the pool with the new neck ring that gives him complete freedom to move.

I'm not sure if we're up to making the drive north just yet. If August comes and it seems like the right thing to do, we'll pack up and go. For now, I need time to grieve and adjust. Last August I wrote on this blog that I was glad that the difficult days of my husband Rich's illness were over, and that I felt optimistic and happy. Two months later my mom was fighting for her life. I wrote about how quickly things can change. Little did I know.

When my mom died last November I lost my best friend. I'm struggling. It's hard for me to reach out, but I've been doing it. In some cases I've been pleasantly surprised and heartened. In others, not so much. I'm trying, though. I know that I need to build that support system I've talked about for so long.

I'm grateful that my daughter is fully immersed in her job this summer with the little ones. The time spent singing, painting and swimming in the ocean is healing. I'm also thankful for Daniel's new therapists who are just a two minute drive from our home, and for swim rings and pools he can be free in. I am grateful for good friends who get me, and for family that love me.

As a fellow nurse I worked with several years ago liked to say with enthusiasm as we made our way out onto the unit to start our day, "onward and upward!" That's the direction I'm headed.