She fell asleep around 11 p.m. curled up with Tim in an armchair. When his foot began to throb and he needed to move, I pulled her onto my lap where she stayed until everyone went to bed. She slept through the end of “Despicable Me,” Dick Clark’s New Years Eve, clinking glasses, and excited cheers.
As the New Year celebrations went on around her, Isaac commented that he couldn’t believe she was still asleep. I wasn’t surprised. She goes through a lot everyday. Uses extra energy to get around, extra energy to walk, extra energy to get from place to place. Extra energy to do all of the things I take for granted.
So, I wasn’t surprised that she slept through it. It was nice to have her curled up on my lap. And to have my niece curled up next to me—very much awake. And to have the boys within reaching distance, and Tim close enough to hold his hand.
As the television announced that 2011 was mere minutes away, I felt the knot in my chest. An anxiousness to control the things I know I can’t control. To keep my kids safe—The boys’ (all three of them!) limbs in tact on the soccer field. To keep Esther-Faith out of the hospital. To create some sort of bubble that would surround them and keep them protected.
2011 has to be better than 2010. Right?
As the seconds ticked away and the New Year—both rapidly and excruciatingly slowly—approached, I started to give over those worries and concerns. With each tick of the clock, I felt more at ease that we’ll be able handle what comes no matter what.
And as the television announced the start of a new year, I bent over and kissed my sleeping daughter’s head. The tears flowed swiftly and easily. That I was holding her in my arms at that moment was a miracle on so many levels. What she has endured. What struggles she has faced. What mountains she has climbed.
What she has survived.
I gripped her tight as my niece leaned in and grabbed me tight. I let myself feel everything I could feel in that moment. Holding her, knowing that each day and each moment is a gift. And I just let the tears come. Unashamed.
And while I let myself feel everything about the moment, what I wanted most was to feel like we were being given a fresh start. Knowing that the change from 2010 to 2011 was merely a tick of a clock from one second to the next, I still wanted to feel like the simplicity of moving from one second—in 2010—to the next—in 2011—would also help us feel like we were moving away from some of the chaos and pain of 2010.
Isaiah’s therapist said that karma comes in clumps. What I know about karma, I’ve learned on the two episodes I’ve seen of the television program “My Name is Earl.” That is to say, I don’t know much. But I sure do hope that we get some of karma’s good clumps this year.
Tim leaned in for a kiss, and just before I lifted my face to meet his, I inhaled as much of the scent from her soft red curls that I could. And more tears spilled. Intellectually, I know that the year we’re in doesn’t mean anything, but emotionally, I wanted the turn of the calendar, the click of the clock to mean everything. I wanted a promise that the year would be better.
There is no such promise.
And I know that. I do. I know that if I’m really honest with myself, what I want is the promise of control over the situations that make life hard. I want to circle a day on calendar that I know my dad is coming home. I want to know FOR SURE that we will not face any hospitalization-type emergencies with any of the kids. I want to know that when Tim does return to the soccer field, he won’t break five bones in his other foot.
But I don’t know any of those things.
And now, a few weeks into the New Year, I’m ok with not knowing. Life is about not knowing. In my younger days, I thought of everything as an adventure. Meeting Tim was an adventure. Marrying young was an adventure. His stay in the academy was an adventure. Foster care classes were an adventure. Buying a house was an adventure. I used to see everything in my life—the good and the bad, the difficult and the joyous—as adventures.
2011 is my new adventure. Three days in, I took Tim to a follow-up appointment at yet another hospital. I towed the kids along. It was an adventure. Even when Tim sent the doctor out to tell me the pin has to stay for three more weeks—so that he wouldn’t have to tell me. A few days later, we got a pretty bad snowstorm. I dislike driving in the snow. But I did it anyway. And I upped the adventure—I wore four-inch heels.
Isaiah wants to run track. And play soccer. And maybe try out for football. I kept myself from being sucked in to the idea of how much busier it will all make us. He’s also talking about joining JROTC. And Isaac wants to try out for travel soccer. And take tap dance lessons.
And Esther-Faith will go to kindergarten.
Instead of allowing myself to be consumed by the anxiety of it all, I’m choosing to anticipate the adventures on the horizon. We’ll handle it. Because we’ve learned that we can handle just about anything. 2010 taught us that. Through hospitals, Reactive Attachment Disorder, addiction, ADHD, Spina Bifida, ODD, hydrocephalus, conduct disorder, ventriculo-peritoneal shunts, allergies, broken feet, soccer tournaments, IEPs, exercise, milestones, wheelchairs, forearm crutches, gardening, band concerts, ups, downs, and all the in-betweens.
So, from one tick of the clock to the next, we will go on an adventure in 2011 at the HennHouse.