Friday, 22 March 2013

A True Loss

We have all had them in our lives.  Angels.  People who come along and make our world a better place, give of themselves beyond what could ever be expected.  We had such a person enter our family about a year and a half ago.  Miss Anne.  And when someone becomes such an integral part of day to day life, such a source of comfort for the entire family, losing them is enormously painful. 

And that's the problem with people who are so giving- they always find new ways that they are needed, they are always looking for other ways to give back.  Miss Anne is moving to be near her grandkids, to provide care for them.  This is the second such angel we have lost to exactly this circumstance.  Those are some lucky grandkids, is all I have to say.  And I respect and love her for what she is doing.  This does not change the fact that the child in me would like to throw myself at her feet and beg her not to go. 

Anne entered our lives when our family was in crisis.  We unexpectedly lost our previous caregiver with no notice, and John and I were on the verge of separating.  The boys had just recently been diagnosed.  I had no idea how I was supposed to bring a new person into our home, how I was supposed to keep up the facade that everything was fine, while asking them to care for two special needs children.  It was a daunting task, and one I did not have the mental energy to undertake.  Not that I had a choice.  I mean she literally had to start and on her second day drive Nate to ABA 30 minutes away each day with Jack having a hissy fit in the backseat because, well, he doesn't do well with change.  I was working very hard to hide all of the other problems we were having, I was afraid it would scare her away.  I needn't have worried.  Anne has been incredible to our family.  She has observed Nate's therapies and tried to integrate the same techniques in her interactions with him, she has worked for countless hours with Jack on his fine motor skills.  She is firm and loving. She is a former teacher.  She has been perfect for my children.

Other than myself and John, she is the only one who knows that Jack is obsessed with tuna and fruit, the only one who knows that Nate likes his sandwiches best when the bread is first nuked for 10 seconds.  She is the only person other than mom and dad who Nate will snuggle up and fall asleep with.  For about a year, she drove my car way more than I did.  When Nate started taking the bus, she was flexible with her hours.  She has taken care of the boys while they were sick, while school was out, during half days.  She has learned to adhere to the boys' very strict diets.  Nate says her name!!! Ah-nnie.

Since all of the drama that has happened within our family, and particularly with our boys, I have developed a tremendous sense of loyalty to those who have stood by us.  To those who have not judged or abandoned us.  Anne is one of these people, and she will have a place in our home, and in our family whenever she wants one.  I have had an in home caregiver for the boys since the time that I went back to work after Jack was born.  It is a lot to ask of someone to care for your children while you are present in the home.  There must be a constant feeling of being "watched" or "scrutinized".  I know, because I have always felt it in the opposite direction as well.  I tidy the house before the daycare arrives (God help us now, lol), if one of the kids is tantruming when they arrive, I feel embarassed.  These people truly know me better as a mother than anyone else besides my children and my husband.  They see the constant circles under my eyes.  They see me cry when I am confronting new challenges.  They see me freaking out with joy when Nate says something as simple as "come, up".  And they cheer right along with me.  I feel a bit as though the rug is being pulled out from under me.  Like I will be driving this daytime ship solo for the very first time.  Because Nate will be in daycare- things will be much less personal now.  And for someone who works from home, and sees very few other people on a day to day basis, it's going to be a rough transition for me as well.  It's going to be pretty lonely.

What do you give to someone to thank them for being all of these things?  Is there anything that would even begin to be adequate?  I have been struggling with this for a few weeks now.  I mean, obviously, pictures of the boys, but that's just not enough.  I want her to have something special to remember our family.  I don't know if she even realizes how much she has meant to us.  She has been on this autism journey with us and has joined in our concern, our sadness, and our joy with the victories.  The other day it finally came to me.  I went to an art auction about 6 weeks ago, and almost all of the art was done by pediatric oncology patients.  We have a painting done by one of the kids.  But while I was there I also happened upon a display of windchimes made by children at the Key School, which is a local special needs school that caters mostly to children with autism.  And I felt a tremendous need to buy one.  I had no idea what I would do with it, but they were beautiful and I wanted to support the cause.

I figured out the perfect thing to do with it. 

Thank you Anne for all of your love and support.  Our entire family has felt the effect of your presence in our lives and we will miss you very very much.

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