Friday, September 12, 2008

“It is only by going down into the abyss
that we recover the treasures of life.
Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.
The very cave you are afraid to enter
turns out to be the source of what you were looking for”

- Joseph Campbell

Daily, as I travel through my often chaotic moments, I come face to face with the reality of some of those very same moments. Of Zoey's moments. Whether it is when I head over to school to pick up Jake and stand waiting outside his classroom gate. Or maybe it's when I find myself crossing Joe's preschool courtyard. Still yet, maybe it might very well be at the market or the mall. Or more than likely it is probably going to be at our local playground. Being pushed in strollers, carried in packs, tugging on mommy and daddy's legs, toddling precariously from here to there or climbing park slides, there they are: Zoey's peer group. Other little loves. Boys and girls around 18 months of age making their way, finding their way, through this world. Very much the same as Zoey. Although Zoey's rate at which she is navigating this world is quite different. But she is making her way. Slow and steady. I receive sometimes subtle but mostly stark reality checks in the differences daily. I never dwell long on the discrepancies. But sometimes those realities hit me when I least expect it. This week they came in the form of Zoey's IFSP meeting with Early Intervention. I breezed through her assessment by one of the PT's and saw: 72% delayed in gross motor skills. That's a reality check. Another came in the form of holding a 3 month old baby girl in my lap, gazing at her darling newborn face and finding her instinctively, effortlessly pushing her little 3 month old legs off my lap and bearing weight. Something Zoey cannot do. Doesn't even attempt to. Then there was the visit from my good friend and her daughter who is 2 weeks older than Zoey. Through my front door bounded little Charlotte. She babbled away, climbed all over my couch, ate independently, climbed stairs, even bucked herself into Zoey's feeding chair. Those were massive reality checks. We also had a visit with a little girl named Camille the other day. Camille also happens to have Down syndrome. She is pretty darn amazing. Standing, taking steps, signing, animated as all get up, playing purposefully with toys. Wow, major reality check. During all of these instances I thoroughly was entranced and fully enjoyed watching these children making their way. Just the way it should be. I would be less then honest if I didn't say that little tinges of sadness came from within me in those moments. Sadness for Zoey on how darn hard she has to work. But my days are not filled with bitterness or anger. They are filled with hope that Zoey will continue this slow and steady pace and find her own way. This morning Mark was still home when Charlotte and her mom first came by. He came down stairs with the usual bounce to his step, greeting Charlotte's mom, Shelby, with a great big hug and kiss and then turned his attention to Charlotte. She too got a little hug and kiss and then Mark stood back and just watched her for a few seconds as she got back to the business of playing. Only then did I look at Mark's face and into his eyes and that's when I saw the tears. Out of no where. It took Mark by surprise, I could tell. Seeing him like that took me by surprise as well. One thing I realized in that moment was that Mark does not have the same opportunities for reality checks daily, as I do. I process those moments and move past them. He doesn't have that same chance. My heart broke in that instant. We spend little or no time at all discussing what Zoey is unable do. We do not spend time comparing her to others her own age either. We also quite frankly, forget where and what the other five children were doing at the same age as Zoey. We just see Zoey. Just as she is. However, it is extremely difficult to NOT see it when it is right before you. Is it sad? Yes, in many ways it is. You revisit the fact that you were more than prepared for her to come to you with Down syndrome and a heart defect. We all were embracing those realities. When the rest came, that became far too much to process. However, we were forced to process it quickly and move on. We did that. We continue to do it. Tomorrow we head to a Children's Hospital of Los Angeles NICU Reunion. Wow, who would have thought that one day that's how we would be spending an entire Saturday? But we are. And aren't we lucky once again? Because another reality is this, so many babies in the exact NICU as Zoey, never received the gift of finding their way. Of finding their way home. We did. Zoey did. So once again we count our blessings. We give thanks to God and we continue our journey. Because that is our reality today.


Kele said...

I could post a long detailed comment explaining my thoughts regarding this lovely post and how moved I am by a family I have yet to meet but already love so dearly.
However, knowing you as I do now, having the conversations we have had, I will say this knowing you 'get it'...
Laughter through tears my sweet, wonderful, dear, new and forever friend, laughter through tears.

Cleo said...

Zoey Grace is perfect just the way she is, she is your miracle. She is beautiful and unique, there is no one like your Zoey, she is writing her own story one day at a time. Zoey’s own way is the only way that matters, her reality is as beautiful as her life. Zoey has an amazing journey ahead of her and her own wisdom will help her overcome any challenge she may face. Heather, your unconditional love will continue to make her happy and that all she needs. God Bless~

Reagan Leigh said...

Ugh. Boy do I know how you feel. I see it everywhere I go. There's no getting away from it. But it is what it is. This is our reality and we are all learning to live with it (although I'll admit it is a constant struggle). But even at our lowest, we are reminded that we are in fact still the lucky ones and there are many out there so much worse off than ourselves (and our little ones). Yes, we do have a lot to be thankful for.