Life Is Fragile

The older I get, the more I come to see how fragile life is. In the blink of an eye, anything can happen and life changes, for you, your family, your friends. And it's so completely unsure.

When Kaeden returned from America, he was excited to see his friends again. Particularly his girlfriend. Upon his return, he learned that his girlfriend had been in a serious car accident and was in critical care in the hospital. She was comatose and beyond that, nobody could tell us anything. Eventually, Kaeden was able to reach his girlfriend's mom via her cell phone, and she relayed the information that his girlfriend was still in a coma and had been moved to another hospital. This, of course, had a big impact on Kaeden, though he never wanted to discuss the situation. I offered to help him find out additional information and take him for a visit if that was something he wated to do. He refused my offer, and every week I ask how she is doing, if he has heard news.

This week he came home to tell me his girlfriend came out of her coma on Monday. He spoke with her yesterday and her memory is very sketchy. When I asked him more, he said he didn't want to talk about it and I saw his shoulders tense and his face grimace. I went to touch him to offer my support, and he pulled away. I knew the sign...just leave me alone.

I quietly and calmly told him if he wanted to talk, I would be here to listen. Tonight when he came home from Judo, I asked how it was as he ate dinner. Then I eased into how things went at school this week, and simply asked what he knew about Kathleen. I told him I would like to know so I don't have to worry any more. So, though he was tense, he told me his story, of her needing to undergo operations, of her not remembering anything, of her wounds. He didn't give a lot of details, but when I told him I am so happy she woke up and is still alive, he touched me on my arm. "Me too, mama. I wish that didn't happen, but I am so glad she is going to be okay." I was so pleased he opened up to me, let me in to share his pain and grief. Allowed me to offer comfort and support.

I will continue to pray for her, and for my son who has to live with the emotions of this event in his life. Life is fragile. For all of us.


Working Together

I am really proud of my boy tonight. The big one. He came home from school and has been magnificent to be around the entire evening. It's days like today that give me this feeling of comfort. It feels really good.

Erwin and I attended a meeting with his home away from home this morning. We worked together to make up rules and a plan of attack so that we can all work more efficiently together. I think we have reached a really good compromise. The rules at home are the same as at the other home. His punishments are the same as well. It feels good to have finally found a team who care enough to help us make this work. Because it is a lot of work. We all need to give the same information, follow through with the same plan. And even though there will always be slight differences between home and a live-in care center, today I felt this kind of power in knowing what our expectations are, having them hear our input, and getting it all down on paper so we all feel comfortable.

This is the first time I have really felt this way, ever. Even working with this particular group of people, we always had our differences. Today we finally all committed to each other, to make it work for our son, for our family.

When Erwin and I sat down with Kaeden tonight to explain the new rules (morning and bedtime rituals, mostly) he answered by blowing out a big breath of air. "I like this," he answered. "It will be so much easier to have the same rules at home and at school!" And if he's feeling the pressures subside just from hearing our fellowship, I am interested to see what happens when we actually put it into motion. I hope it will work, for all of us. Most importantly, for Kaeden himself, to help him become more independent and trustworthy.

I expect issues to arise, meltdowns to take place. But we're all on the same page, sharing one goal...the goal to bring peace and happiness to our son, and our family. To give Kaeden the security he needs to feel confidence, and the confidence to become independent. What more could I ask?

Tomorrow begins our new system. I am leary, but hopeful. Mostly, I hope that when we falter, when Kaeden doesn't succeed, that we can remain positive, help him to accomplish the goals and be a success. That we can give him the room needed to make it all work. Starting new systems is never easy, but this time we're starting with accomplices...and they want it to work as badly as Erwin and I...and our son!

Good Job Kaeden for hearing us, listening, and agreeing to do your best. I am so proud of the start you have already made. Let's keep it going kiddo! We're going to win this thing, make our family a positive, happy, harmonious family. One we are all proud to say : This is my family!



This was a hard weekend for me. Sometimes they are. It was one of those times when I noticed other people noticing my son. Noticing that he's different. Noticing that even though he looks very "normal" he doesn't quite act "normal". Most of the time I try not to let it bother me, don't notice the second glances or downright stares. But when I am feeling uptight and stressed myself, I tend to notice those little glances or laughs hidden behind a hand covering the lips, or someone shaking their head more. I tend to be ultra-aware of my surroundings and take evrything in, maybe to make up for what Kaeden is unable to take in. And it is very hard for me, as his mom, to recognize people seeing him as being different. It may be a good thing, for others to be faced with differences and come to recognize disabilities, but for me, it's sometimes humiliating. There, I said it. I don't like myself for feeling that way about my own son, but geez, sometimes I just want to fit in and not be the stand out in the crowd. This weekend, it was impossible.

We went to a big nature playground and we were having a lot of fun together as a family. Erwin and Kaeden even managed to play together, joke around, and laugh together without any problems. That alone had me feeling like I was on top of the world. I should know better than to get too enthusiastic, as when I do, my spirit always gets shattered. If I keep my hopes somewhat subdued, it never seems quite as damaging.

After playing in the playground we went to the mini golf and started our rounds. It was a really cool course with different paths than you see everywhere. We were having so much fun when suddenly we caught up to the masses. It was so busy we couldn't even golf, with groups of 7 or 10 or even more ahead of us. I think it stressed my husband out, all the crowds. I know it stressed me out, and I'm sure it was hard for Kaeden. Crowds always are harder for him. We decided to move forward to a path that wasn't taken by groups. Kaeden was worried about this, worried we wouldn't get back and get the correct score. Worried we wouldn't know which path we'd already completed, that the score wouldn't even out in the end. He was correct, because that little happening caused him too much stress and on the following course, he exploded. He laughed when Erwin missed a shot, Erwin got mad at his insincerity, and then it was boom!

Kaeden lost it, completely and wholly. He was cursing and screaming and spitting and pacing and throwing the ball and his club. And all those hordes of people? Yeah, they witnessed it all. The people climbing on the survival course in the trees above us? Yeah, they witnessed it too. People stopped playing as our family became a one act show for all to be entertained. And I stood on, trying to reach my son, reach through his anger, his fear, his disregard for people, and find a way to calm him. But at that moment it wasn't possible. And then, as I looked around me, I realized that Kaeden could seriously hurt one of these people. He was that out of it that he wasn't aware of his surroundings in the least. Eventually, I persuaded him to come with me as he continued to rant and swing the club around ferociously. As we made our way out of the mini golf park, leaving Erwin and Jari behind, he continued to spit, scream, curse and kick. And I was the center of attention, as was my son.

At that point, all I wanted was to get Kaeden to calm down. I needed him to come back to reality, to breathe. So I stopped, spoke calmly and let him rant until I finally saw his eyes begin to clear, his face lose some of the tension. And then, when he said he needed to go walk to calm down, I let him go. That is his best manner of gaining control, to just leave him alone. So I sat and watched people still pointing and makiing gestures my way. And silently cursed them, myself, my husband, my son. Tried to stay calm.

A little while later, Kaeden was by the outdoor swimming pool. Jari and Erwin came back after their golf rounds and Jari went in search of his brother while Erwin and I discussed what had happened. He came running back to inform me that Kaeden was swimming. Swimming? In 60 degree grey autumn weather? Swimming with no swimming trunks? Swimming?

I looked over the fence to see my 16 year old son jump in the outdoor swimming pool in his underwear, his clothes left in a pile by the side of the pool. And I had no clue what to do. I called his name, then demanded that Jari come back by us to get Kaeden's audience away. But he still had an audience. People sitting picknicking were laughing, pointing, shaking their heads, glancing back and forth between Kaeden and I. Tears pricked behind my eyes as I watched thescene before me unfold. I wached Kaeden go down the baby slide into the pool and stand there just grinning.

So what, I tried to tell myself. But it was not normal behavior. So what, I tried to believe. But it was not okay for someone his age to take part in such an activity. Eventually, Kaeden climbed out of the pool, gathered his clothes, stripped down to nakedness, and got dressed, carrying his wet underwear as he returned. I couldn't get away fast enough. I hoped the car would swallow me whole. I was utterly humiliated.

The thing that bothers me most is this humiliation. I should have been more worried about my son than what others were saying and thinking. I should have been so involved in him that I didn't notice the stares and pointing. But I wasn't. I was doing what I had to do to keep them and him safe, to help him find calm, and nobody has any idea. I am certain they know there was something not quite right, but I could have used it as a learning opportunity in place of wallowing in my own embarrassment. Maybe next time. Probably not.



Marriage. Remember those butterflies you'd get in your tummy just thinking his name way back when? How you couldn't wait for that next phone call or another letter in the mail. How you'd wait up for hours just to manage a quick chat on ICQ? And then comes marriage...

And you turn into an old married couple magically overnight. Maybe that's an exaggeration, maybe it takes a bit longer, but somewhere along the way life takes a turn and marriage becomes a comfort and contentment and all those butterflies hide away for a rainy day.

When you take your vows, in sickness and health, for better or worse, you really don't know what you're getting yourself into. You are in love and this enchanting prince has just become yours, and when you say those magic words "I do" you completely and wholeheartedly believe in them.

But life changes. You lose a piece of yourself when you marry and gain a piece of a pair, but the pair isn't quite whole because really, it's just butterflies and rosy cheeks....at least until the farts and burps and scratching of the balls while you sleep alone in bed yet again becomes the norm. It's only then, after those first few years, that you realize what marriage truly means, and what you have traded in when saying "I do".

Marriage, it takes a lot of work. UNfortunately, people don't often put in the work it takes and the marriage suffers, maybe very noticeably, maybe just in quiet hints. It could be something as minor as him not noticing you colored your hair to something major like him cheating on you. But in one way or another, marriage is often taken for granted, our partner often just a permanent fixture we expect to be around. We have changed since becoming wed, he has changed, life has changed. We aren't the people we chose to marry. We have evolved, both together and apart. In some ways it's a good thing, in some ways it's bad, but in every way it just is. It is life, and it's sharing our life with another human being. Sharing not only a short story, but a complete novel filled with delicate details.

Sometimes those details get a little fuzzy. Sometimes the characters don't all add up. We get lost in the plot, confused about whether it's worth continuing to the end. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it's worth giving a little bit more to come to a conclusion.

This person we have married is the one we chose to be our partner in life. He is the one we believed in and treasured. The one we couldn't stand to be without, for even a few lonely hours. As our marriage ages, we tend to forget those qualities, forget the jittery butterflies that made us alive, forget how enchanted we were, what made him so special, what we wouldn't do to keep that feeling alive. Life becomes comfortable, easy, content. And the butterflies are replaced with the warmth of the wood-burning stove. Only not quite so hot.

MArriage is a rough road. There are lots of twists and turns and sometimes we tend to get lost at the croosroads. We aren't there to help each other find the correct turn as we each go on about our business and do our own thing, only coming together at the end of the day to say hey before falling asleep apart and not so much as a whisper of how are you today? We don't take the time or energy to to make our partner feel special, to let them know they are loved. It's just a quiet assumption you think they understand.

But what if they don't understand? What if they need to feel those butterflies, to marvel over the wonder of being together? To feel like a giddy school girl in love? What happens then? Because marriage can't just be forgotten. You have changed, you have given, you have taken, and you are no longer just you. You have become a pair, a very confortable pair of the grungiest, softest socks you dare not throw away. And only on the gentle wash cycle can they manage to hold together.

Marriage. It is a job. It takes work. And it takes butterflies to make fairy tales come true.


Kaeden is Home

Kaeden is home after a long summer vacation in America with aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and great grandparents. He had a wonderful time and the stories he tells light up his eyes. He was happy there, and got to do lots of fun stuff with people who love him. I missed him. Some days towards the end, it was all I could do to keep my feet planted firmly on European soil. I was also very busy this summer, so that helped to keep the distance not quite so far. Being busy means not sitting twisting your hands in worry. So, it was good that my summer was filled with adventure upon adventure of my own.

Kaeden was scheduled to come home so he'd have a week to adjust before heading back to school. That didn't happen with Hurricane Irene. His trip was delayed 5 days, and even when he did head home, he had yet another unexpected cancellation in Germany. We finally got him home though, and I was grateful we forked out the big money for the unaccompanied minor service.It was needed this time around, and I was pleasantly surprised when I got a call telling me of the unexpected situation and that they would keep my son with them until he was back in the comfort of mama's arms.

He missed the first few days of school. He's having trouble remembering rules we have at home. He doesn't like to get out of bed in the morning. He can't find anything he needs and goes on to blame everyone else for missplacing it. He's forgotten he needs to ask before taking food or drinks, and that eating upstairs is not okay. And, he's irritable beyond belief.

I expected much of this. Jet lag is a real thing and it's not easy getting the groove back. Being gone and able to do as he wanted for two months I was expecting to have to remind him that he must ask for snacks, that he can't have coke. I also knew he would be emotionally drained having spent time with people he loves the most in the world and having to say goodbye and begin over at home (with others who love him, but aren't gramma and grampa).

But what I wasn't expecting was the great amount of stress I am feeling. The tightness in my shoulders aches and I am extremely tired. I find myself once again trying to prevent problems, watching everyone like a hawk to intervene before somethign happens. Doing my best to keep people apart, and busy doing differing activities so as to keep a sense of peace. And yet, all this does is create an immense stress and disharmony within myself. Unfortunately, I can't let it go. If I do, the disharmony in our home becomes too much and nobody is happy. So, I struggle and I become the biggest person and do what has to be done. I am the heart of the home, but I am not sure it's big enough to go all the way around.

Kaeden is harder than I remembered. He requires a lot of time and energy. He is worth it, without a doubt, but it is a lot of work. I have to follow him around like he is a two-year-old. He makes messes wherever he goes and needs assistance with everything. Having this break from these circumstances really did bring a peace to my battered spirit. I needed the break, my husband, my son, and Kaeden himself needed the break. But getting back into the swing of things after the break is hard, like really hard.

I am so glad my son is home. I am happy we all had time to be happy and carefree. And I now hope that we can all find harmony living together as one.



I'm not quite sure how to feel today. It's a mixed bag of emotions and one side of me is cheering while the other shivers in sadness. Today, one of my dearest friends was given the results of a test proving her liver is cancer-free! Yeah! I am so happy about this. Been praying like crazy that this would be the result. And my prayers have been answered.

But the other side of me is filled with jittery nerves. Though her liver is cancer-free, she is not cancer free. A couple weeks back she was told she has eye cancer. It's not a common form of cancer, but she has it. And because she has eye cancer, on September 28th she will be undergoing surgery and losing her eye and her sight.

I have tried to remain positive as I hear news of her symptoms and doctors visits. I try to think: Please, just let it be only her eye. And it is. But it is her eye. And her sight. And how can I be positive when someone I love is going through such a horrible, life-changing event? I mean, thank God it's "only" her eye, but damn, it's her eye!

My friend seems to be taking this process very well. Really, what else can you do? Life is what it is and it sends a lot of blows our way. This time, it's a whopper. And I just wish I knew what I could say or do to try and make it all okay. But nothing I say or do can make it all okay. It just isn't something that is okay. Someone I love has cancer, and it's already taking a piece of her she loves. It sucks.

I hope that throughout the course of this experience, that at the very least she will come to learn how very much she is cared about and loved. I hope hse knows that I am here for her and will do anything I can to help. That my shoulder is open for a good cry, my mind filled with useless jokes to make her smile. That I am so very sorry this is happening to her and her family.

I can continue to pray. I can buy her her favorite tea. I can show up for lunch with the girls. And I can be here, there, anywhere if and when I am needed.

Cancer, you may be taking her eye, but you will never take her sight, for she sees people as they are and looks at them beyond what an eye can see and accepts them and loves them for who they are. her sight goes beyond her eyes. And that, that you will never take from her.



We were on summer vacation in Austria and Czech Republic. One day, we went to visit the zoo. There were bears and goats and a leopard and monkeys...and a cage full of bunnies and guinea pigs. And on the cage was a sign: For Sale: Guinea Pigs €7, Rabbits €10

And Jari fell head over heels in love. With Gizmo. Whom I now introduce as our newest family member,he has given friendship to our lonely Rudy since his brother, Crocky died. So, our little gremlin (well, Jari's, but I can call him mine too, right?!) Gizmo. Isn't he a doll?