Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Last night at approximately 7:45 eastern time, Son2 strolled across the stage (so far away from where we were sitting that he was mostly a maroon spot on the horizon!) and collected his high school diploma. It is exciting when any kid reaches that milestone. For a kid who struggles with asperger's syndrome and a few other complicating factors, it was truly momentous. An achievement for him, for us, and for all those who have helped him along the way.

Congratulations!! We love you!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It all comes down to this...

I've written about all my kids on the blog, but I've written about Son2 far more often than the others. Having a kid with multiple special needs provides a lot of story prompts!

It also provides more anxieties than any person should have to endure. And right now we are in the middle of final exams. Not just any final exams. Oh no, my friendly reader, I'm talking the FINAL final exams! This is it. Graduate if he does well. Live in our basement and sell vacuum cleaners door-to-door if he fails.

Okay, maybe that last option is a bit extreme. But after 14 years in the public school system (we stretched high school out over five years for maximum benefit), we really have come down to one class that must be passed in order to graduate. Oh it would be nice if he did well in all his classes. Hell, I'm a teacher. Of course I want him to do well. But he could truly fail three of them and nothing would change. But one class...the chem/physics all rides on that one. And he is going into the final with a somewhat mediocre average in that class, so the final really could mean the difference.

Fourteen years coming down to one test.

When he started school all those many years ago, I had a head full of thick, dark brown hair. The kind any woman would want to run her fingers through. Well, not any woman, really. But my wife liked it okay. Now...fourteen years later...some thin spots, some gray hairs, some receding in the hairline area. And I'm wondering if this one test can push me from thinner and grayer to wispy and white?!?! The stress is just unbelievable.

We should have grades very soon. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Lesson In Loss

A few folks have looked at the Wordle I posted when I returned from my long absence and said they would love to hear more about some of those words. And I’ll certainly share on several of them. For my own benefit, I’ll probably spend more time on the happier words than the sad words. But I’m gonna start with the sad ones – especially since they contributed to my long absence from blogging.

Some of those words in there – funeral, mother-in-law, estate, and cancer – all relate to the loss of several family members over the past 30 months.

Our first loss was our niece who died in a tragic accident in December 2007.

We really had not recovered from that loss when my mom passed away in February 2008. I never wrote so much about her death, but I did share some of what we dealt with after the fact both here and here.

Just two months after my mom’s death, my favorite aunt passed away. One more emotional blow when we were still struggling with our recent losses.

Throughout all of this time, my mother-in-law battled leukemia. After a long struggle, she finally passed away this past October.

All of these required our family to pack up and travel all around the country for funerals. We all became too good at putting on our “funeral clothes” doing the meet-and-greet at viewings and meals hosted by friends and churches, and serving as pall bearers to loved ones. These are skills at which no one should have to become very adept.

Aside from those skills, we learned other things. We learned to enjoy our family more. We learned to seize the day – go out, have fun, travel – not just worry about saving money for the future. The future is just too uncertain.

During that time of grieving, regrouping, learning…I stopped writing. It just mental energy to write that I just didn’t have at the time. I know, if you’ve read my writing, you think not a whole lot of mental energy could be going into that! But it was more creative energy than I could muster.

Instead, I spent time with family. I read a lot. We talked about our future and what we really wanted. We regrouped. We traveled. We ate out more. We started to have fun and embrace life in ways we never had before. Not that we did “new” stuff…we just did “more” stuff. A lot more.

That’s not to say we don’t still grieve. Some of it still feels too recent to let go. But losing people you love can really open your eyes to those you love that are still with you. Making the most of the time together is a critical thing to do.

We’ve worked hard to learn that lesson.