Tonight, after E drifted off to sleep and I double checked her monitors, I followed my normal routine of letting Dublin out before bed.
But tonight, instead of rushing back inside in order to get through chores so I could find my way to bed, I looked up. As I took in the somewhat cloudy, light-polluted sky, I realized that I cannot remember the last time that I looked up.
I made my way to a chair and sat low in order to fully rest my head back. And what felt like the first time in forever, I began to breathe. You know the kind of breathing I’m talking about: the type that fills your lungs to capacity and clears your head with each exhale.
I began to take in all that has happened the last few weeks, months and even years… and breathe it out.
Recently E has been hitting milestones left and right: placing puzzle pieces on boards, standing, climbing, using her pointer finger to show what she wants. With each one met, I would feel a surge of excitement and pleasure. Progress! Finally!
However, my celebrations would be squelched by the bitter awareness that E wasn’t placing the pieces where they were meant to go, and that she is still nowhere near functionally communicating. We still have so much more to do. I felt like we had almost reached a summit, that we had to be close… but instead had barely left the base camp. This is a flattening feeling.
Suddenly, the fervor to work with her was gone. I became downtrodden with the burden I felt to continue along this path.
2.5 years worth of daily work with E. 2.5 years of playing with specific purpose, never truly relaxing or allowing too much free play. 2.5 years of dragging E to milestones with exhausted arms. 2.5 years of research, of therapy appts. 2.5 years of repitition and rotating the same toys in and out because she doesn’t move past a milestone. Breathe it in.
Exhale the frustration, the disappointment, the paralyzing fear. The exhaustion, the weariness and the pain. Let go of the tempers lost, the discouraging delays and the long, long days and nights. Exhale.
Now. Look up.
Her small, chubby fist closed around a knob on a puzzle piece. Her delighted smile as she placed the piece haphazardly on the board. The sounds of exclamations as we watched her hammer a ball into a hole. Her giggle as she finally understands a chasing game. Her pointer finger extended towards a most-wanted toy. Her beaming face when she realized she was understood.
I had lost sight of this: all of the good. The pure rewards for hard work. The shining points of light in darkness. I lost sight of the stars because I forgot to look up.
May you and I remember to breathe deeply and look up, dear friend. Our lungs, hearts and lives need it more than we can ever know.