I promised my brother Lenny that I would not write a post today about his surgery. I promised I wouldn’t tell you that today the doctors are going to open his head and try to resolve three aneurisms. I promised him that I would not write and ask for prayers or give you play by play updates. He asked me not to post anything at all. Why? Because unlike me, he is a very private person. And he doesn’t like or want or need all of Facebook knowing his business or seeing what he looks like in a hospital gown. Me on the other hand, I want you to know that I had a donut for breakfast and ice cream for dinner and see every new outfit I’m wearing, even if it were to be a hospital gown. We are much different people, Lenny and myself.
So out of respect to him, this post is not about Lenny, it’s about ME. As Toby Keith sang, “I wanna to talk about me, wanna to talk about I,…”
Today I need your prayers and your thoughts and every good vibe you can send.
But hospital surroundings are not kind to the senses and not a fun place to spend the day. There are loud buzzes that make you jump and doors that open and close loudly and keep you out. Because behind them lives hang in the balance. This is not Disneyland with fun colors and rollercoasters and the smell of cotton candy. Everything is white or grey. The smell is a mix of cleaning supplies and cafeteria food. And I believe they have purposefully made waiting room couches uncomfortable. Why, I do not know.
But this is my job today. As a sister, as a friend.
I saw a bit of the good last night, when I looked into my brother’s eyes and I told him I loved him. I mean really looked. So often we tell people casually that we love them or care about them as they are walking out the door. “Love you, bye!” But last night I looked in his eyes and made sure he knew how much I loved him and how thankful I am that he saved my life. (And I also told him that if the unimaginable happened and he was no longer walking on this planet that I totally expect him to rattle coffee cups to let me know he’s okay.)
Lenny truly did save my life. I was only twenty-six when I sat in his kitchen table in Garfield Heights Ohio in the small bungalow that he and his wife Gail and two kids, Nichole and Chris, lived in. He was just a few years sober in his own journey. At that table I cried. A lot. And I told him how scared and confused I was and how very much I didn’t think I wanted to be alive. And he listened.
He told me things like, “Today you are exactly where you need to be. You are doing all the right things by being honest and admitting that you are powerless and that you need help. Life is a journey and this is part of it.” These were new concepts from me at the time, but they sunk in deep and have become a part of my belief system forever. He also told me, “I over E when it involves C. Intellect over emotion when it involves a crisis.” This will be a hard one to follow today, but I will try. I sat at the table too many times to count. I memorized the shape of the grain in the wood. And I cried and grew. Lenny was a rock and a pillow. He became the person who would stand strong and hold me up, but he also became a soft place the land. A place where I could rest my weary mind and broken heart.
We all have people in our lives whom we love. And then we all have ‘those people’.
Lenny is one of my soul people. And I need God to guide that doctors hand this morning. I need his doctor to have had just enough coffee but not too much. I need the doctor to be having his best day possible as he operates on my brother’s brain. This is my prayer this morning. This is my surrender. I know that it is out of my hands. I know that I must let go and trust that by the time the sun sets today, Lenny’s three aneurisms will be resolved and I can go back to finding yet another ice cream place to eat at for dinner.
In the end, I’m sure Lenny will be angry about this post. But I consider it repercussion for all the childhood angst he put me through. For putting rocks in my stocking on Christmas morning and flipping wet kitchen towels at my thighs as I walked by and for holding me down and tickling my stomach until I cried. Paybacks are a bitch.
Or maybe you need to be sitting next to someone who will hold you in their space and love you.
I risk Lenny’s disappointment today because I know that you, my extended family, will sit with me today at this table, in this moment, in the midst of my fear and tears, and be rocks and pillows. Look into the eyes of your soul people today. Tell them you love them. Xo
P.s. We are on the hunt for cool and unique hats for him to wear this summer. I know, hats in the summer – who scheduled this wardrobe challenge?
If I had to give us, (the people in my family) a grade on how we performed yesterday, I’d give us all an A. An A for choosing to stay present. For being in the moment.
I’m not going to lie; it was a hard day for me. To begin with, I’ve never been a big fan of Mother’s Day, since I lost mine so young. Every year the day seemed to be a reminder of my failure as a daughter, because I wasn’t nice to my mother. And I know that. (I even have a tape recording of me calling her stupid. Sigh. Someone should have smacked me repeatedly.) I was young and selfish and I didn’t know how to love her. And then, she died before I could grow up enough to fix any of it. And then, after I became a mother, the day reminded me that I was again failing. Failing my son James.
It’s all a little better now. In the way that a few days after a hard work
out you are less sore. Things still hurt, but you are able to go up and down the steps without moaning. I “get through” Mother’s Day.
But yesterday, because James’ birthday fell on Mother’s Day, we got to focus more on him. But James, because of his disabilities, doesn’t care that it is his birthday. He would just as soon stay in his room and watch Little Einstein’s on his IPad. But letting him do that doesn’t feel good to us, so we pull and prod him to celebrate.
We did all of James’ favorite activities; we swam, we ate yogurt, we played Duck Duck Goose. His cousins Nichole and Joe and Chris gave him knuckle balls and piggy back rides. He even (miraculously) showed interest in opening up a present or two, but wanted nothing to do with the candles on his Mango Key Lime Pie. But over all, he did good, in what I know (because of the Autism) were incredibly uncomfortable situations for him.
We took James’ lead and for the day, and we didn’t let the uncomfortable situation keep us in our separate mental spaces. We came together. Instead of the awkward pulling-apart that happens when a family goes through a divorce, all of the adults acted like adults, put aside our own agendas, and laughed and sang and loved.
James got lots of presents, but as always, he gave more than he received. He served as our teacher and our guide and kept us all present. I’m guessing that if every family going through a divorce had James in the middle of it, there’d be a lot less anger and sadness. It’s really impossible to be angry when someone taps you on the head and says “goose”!
Happy 10th Birthday to the love of my life. I am honored to be your mother and will continue to strive to be better at taking care of your soul.
You were not stupid. You were kind and beautiful and doing the very best you could at a very hard job. I know that now. Happy Mother’s Day mom.
Here’s a short video we did on what the memoir is about. It’s CRAZY to think that this book started just a few years ago on this blog and now it’s in bookstores and on bookshelves all over the world!
Take a look…someone with something extra makes a special appearance!