April 24, 2015

Teacher's Pet

Hi ho, Hi ho, It's off to testing I go.

It is time for our annual public recertification test for Ty to remain a certified service dog for Bridger.

Heading to the far corner of Maryland to our testing site right now.

He doesn't seem one bit nervous.

He has got this test in the bag.  It's his favorite subject and he is studied up. He is an academic genius you know. 

Maybe I am biased. He is the teacher's pet.  

April 23, 2015

April Showers

Do April showers bring May flowers? I am hoping so, because I sure could use some.

April has been accompanied by lots of showers - more from inside than from out.

First, Bridger's shower.  

Lifting a 80 pounder in and out of his tub chair, especially when he is slippery and/or non-compliant, is a back kill.  I dread bath time.  I know that the one sure thing to come out of it is that I will be hurting more when it is over than I did when it started.  So many nooks and crannies to clean - which is difficult when a child can't move to facilitate the scrubbing of such.  Needless to say, I get a shower equal to his by the time I am done.

I am giddy to announce that Operation Accessible Bathroom is well underway.  It is dusty, messy, loud, dusty and dirty. . . and did I mention dusty?  But in the end we will have a roll in shower.  Translated that means NO MORE LIFTING Bridger in and out of the tub!! Can I hear a great big HUZZAH?!  I will be able to lower Bridger's bed and have him (with my assistance) transfer directly to his shower chair and roll in to the big wet room and scrub a dub dub.

While I am beyond excited for the shower, the process is nearly breaking me.  It has caused some other showers. . .

My entire family room ceiling was crying in excitement.

Not the kind of April showers I needed.

The contractor accidentally severed a water line in the bathroom directly above the family room and before they could control the problem my entire family room ceiling was leaking from all four corners and from every seam line and light fixture in between.  Furniture was scrambled to be saved, the hardwoods were buried in blankets and towels to protect them and the entire family room ceiling had to be cut out to drain the excess water sitting above it.

Lots of water, even more dust.  After two weeks, the family room ceiling is put back together again.

Those April showers caused many more from Bridger, who couldn't stand the sound of the saws and banging that came from the bathroom renovation and subsequent ceiling repair or his routine being disrupted or our whole house being made non-accessible in a blink of an eye by all of the furniture and rolled up area rugs blocking wheelchair pathways. Lots of screaming and crying from him during the process.

April showers came from inside of me.  I don't let those showers come to the surface very often because those are dangerous floodgates to open that no one wants to see.  Too many encounters with negative, fault-finding or otherwise belittling people in April. I learn an important lesson in those encounters - that some people have so much negative energy in their life that, consequently, it is all they can reflect. I will not allow that to bleed into my life and am fiercely protective of the love and positive energy in my home.  That is an absolute and essential key that each of my children, my husband and myself need to thrive in this special journey.  I quickly and protectively distance myself from any negative energy.

A quote is tucked into a cubby on my wall peeking out at me as I sit and type.

It is a wonderful and needed daily reminder to me.

If I am a fountain and not a drain, maybe the April showers someone else feels may be the most welcome of all.

Counting down until April is over.  May is coming with a great big bouquet, I just know it!

April 09, 2015

Eight is Great!

Bridger has been lying about his age for years.

For the past several years, whenever he has been asked he age, he has enthusiastically replied "8!"

That is his favorite number.

And his dream just came true.  He turned 8.

It is also a very special number in our church.  It is the age that children are baptized.  It is an age that I could not even imagine for the longest time.  I could not imagine it because as a parent of a child with special needs special, you don't look into the future - both because you don't know if you will have one and because there is no way you can create a picture of what the future might look like.

When newly special parents are referred to me for help, one of the first steps I take with them is to help them let go of the future.  Trying to imagine what future milestones, events and images of your family might look like is impossible.  People naturally have a tendency to envision what the future life might look.  An imaginary snapshot can be formed of what life will look like in 5 years - when the kids are out of the "baby gear" stage, or 10 years - when all their kids are in school, in 20 years - when their kids are in college and parents are empty nesters, or 30 years - when they envision they might be jolly grandparents.  There is no future snapshot that can be created for special parents.  They might try and form one, but either it is too painful to piece together or it is impossible to do so because the future picture is so uncertain.  Once you learn to cut the ties to the future and only think about today, coping and reconciling with the present becomes so much easier.

Consequently, I currently don't allow much unproductive thought towards Bridger's future and what events will look like.  For some reason, however, the one event that kept trying to form an image in my mind was his baptism.  What would that look like?  Every time I thought about it I would cry.  Thoughts of that day would cause tears of mourning the "loss" of something that wasn't what it should look like.  Nevertheless, the picture of his baptism day was one that would keep trying to return to my vision of the future.

Bridger's baptism day finally came the last Saturday in March.  It was one of the most beautiful days I have ever experienced.  I was emotionally fragile in the weeks leading up to it.   When Lance, who was going to be one of the speakers for the service, was sharing his prepared remarks with me, my waterworks opened.  In his maturity he is able to share more eloquently his feelings about his brother, and the feelings he was sharing about Bridger and his baptism were beyond tender.

I made a video for his baptism showcasing many of those that have been touched by Bridger.  I showed the video to Bridger - which he then insisted on watching 20 consecutive times.  He was sobbing as he was watching it.  Tears were pouring out of his big blues and he was quivering as he tried to breathe.  He looked at me and asked in his broken English, "Mom, what is happening to me?"  

He didn't understand the source of his emotion that he was feeling so intensely as he watched the video, but I explained to him that he was feeling love.  Seeing all of those images in that video of people that have embraced him and been a part of his life captured the essence of the most pure form of love.

When his special day finally came, Bridger's ecstatic enthusiasm for his baptism overshadowed the sting I was feeling about how "different" this day was going to look from what it "should".

Following the actual baptism and presentation of the video, I got up to the pulpit to speak.  The sight before me was so different from what I had pictured the day to be.  I looked up and saw a chapel full of people that have become so dear to us -- with tears coming from every single eye in the room.  The part that I hadn't pictured for this day was what that chapel was going to look like.  It was full of all of the people that have chosen to be part of Bridger's life -- the people who have chosen to support him directly, or supporting him indirectly by supporting the rest of our family.  As I spoke of examples of how Bridger's life has already been one that has brought people closer to their Savior I watched their eyes running over I couldn't keep mine from doing the same.

His baptism day did not leave place for the sting I had previously felt.  His baptism day wasn't about how different he looked from what that event usually looks like, and his baptism wasn't just his special day either.  It was a special day for everyone seated in that chapel and about how each of us have developed a deeper relationship with our Savior because of Bridger.  It was a spiritual feast and it was greater than anything I could have pictured in my mind.
One of his favoritest people ever - his individual aide from school that he insisted on sitting by during the service.

I am so grateful for all of the people that came, from near and many from far, to support Bridger, me and the rest of my family that day.  Looking across from the pulpit into those faces is not an image I will soon forget.

One of his favorite parts was the green CTR cookies made by a friend - I think he ate. . . 8!

If you ask him, he will still excitedly say he is 8. He is now just finally telling the truth. It is no longer an age for me to face with trepidation, but a reminder of the day that I, and as expressed by all those in attendance, experienced one of the most powerful feelings of love we have ever felt.

It is great to be 8.

Follow the link to the video to see what Love looks like. . .