Thursday, January 16, 2014
Return of the Kinnairds
Happy Winter! On principle, I really want to be one of those people who enjoys each season for its own unique beauty… but holy crap, I can’t wait for spring. I do love the snow, though, and I’m hoping to take the boys sledding soon. We started what I hope becomes a new tradition back in December; during the first big snowstorm we waited until after we’d eaten supper one night and then we all 5 bundled up and took a walk in the snow at nighttime. It was so much fun to walk around our neighborhood and look at all the Christmas lights. The boys loved it so much they would have stayed outside until they had hypothermia. When we got back, we turned on Christmas music and I made hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkled some green and red sugar on top to be extra fancy. The boys loved it…. Ok, ok, winter has some great moments. Christmas was great of course, and none of us wanted to take down our tree. I took this picture on January 3, when I was getting ready to take the tree down and realized that I hadn’t actually taken any pictures of it yet. I'm kind of the worst when it comes to remembering to take pictures of my kids.
Caleb is officially out of his strictest isolation period and is now able to leave the house some, which has done wonders for my mental health. Towards the end of December I was getting dangerously close to losing my mind. We are still being pretty protective of him. We try to minimize his exposure to groups of people, and especially groups of kids. Once flu season is over, he can really be more free. He has had a cold, and survived it, so now that we’ve gotten over that hump, I’m a little less freaked out about the whole thing. Being a germophobe is a totally new experience to me. Before Caleb’s heart transplant, I was much more of the so-what-if-he-licked-the-ground mentality. Now we go through hand sanitizer by the gallon. Our official position is that we are as careful as we can be, but we want him to live his life. I want him to do normal stuff. Like go to Wendy's when his mommy is so cooped up that she is stupid enough to take three kids to a restaurant by herself. (This really happened, as evidenced below, and it actually was pretty fun.)
It’s funny… we’re starting to do normal stuff, but I still don’t quite feel “normal”. I still don’t totally feel like we’re “home”. Even though I am so happy with how my life is going and so thankful for everything I have, I feel a little off. Well, sometimes more than a little off. I don’t know what I was expecting, but our new life is a little unsettling sometimes. It’s hard to put into words. The best way to describe what I’m talking about is summed up in a scene from Return of the King. (If you are not a Lord of the Rings fan, I’m sorry. For you.) In Return of the King, at the very end, the four hobbits return home after being away for over a year on an epic journey. During that year, they have traveled so far and seen things they never knew existed. They faced evil and war and pain and loss. And after all of it, after eventually triumphing against all odds, they return to the homes they had longed for. There’s a moment where they go to the old tavern where they used to spend their time and they sit down together. It all looks exactly the same as it did when they left, and you think they must be so glad to be home. But they look at each other in silence. And you know that even though they are home, life will never be the same for them. They have changed, fundamentally, because of what they’ve gone through. I watched that movie for the first time in a while and I couldn’t stop myself from crying during that scene. I cried because I understand that sometimes you’ve just gone through too much to ever “go back”.
Time makes a big difference. I know that the longer we are here, the more comfortable we will be. I know that many parents who have gone through what we have gone through experience post-traumatic stress disorder. That was surprising to me when I first learned it, but it isn’t now. It makes perfect sense. The last year of my life was traumatic. I have gone through something that will always be a part of me, something that leaves me feeling a little separate from the people in my life. I’m so thankful for Daniel. We feel like a couple of soldiers that fought and survived a war together and I know in him I have someone who truly understands me. And I’m so thankful to have such wonderful friends and family in my life who make “home” feel more like home all the time. I have a beautiful life and my hope is that I am gaining wisdom and strength with each season I pass through. This season has a lot of value and I’m thankful for it.
To my fellow “soldiers” out there, those who are in the trenches of life and have gone through valleys of pain that felt unbearable at the time, just know you aren’t alone. And when you come out of that valley, it’s ok to feel like “home” is harder to adjust to than you thought it would be. You’ve gone through something significant and you aren’t the same person you were. I don’t have great answers and I don’t know how long this will last. Just know you’re not alone.