You need to remember that you’ll get nearly nothing done the day before you change Sarah’s schedule. The day of the schedule change will present its own problems, as well. Selective amnesia or an eternal optimism make you forget.
School delays and closings, though beyond your control, cause just such a disruption of her need for a regimented schedule, as do the holidays. Holidays present challenges for anyone, but for your young lady, their delights cause angst.
The renewed sights and smells overwhelm. Crowds and expectations strain her ability to cope. Her clothes grow unbearable, itchy, and she rips at the hems. Eye contact and standing still become impossible. Verbal outbursts directed at her siblings and you surprise those around you. She reminds you with her agitation, though. Hair twirling creates brunette whirls sticking at odd angles, leaving her looking like a young, freckled Einstein. Her rocking increases. She scratches until deep gouges leave tracks to mark her discomfort.
You kneel beside her, begging her to look at you. “This is supposed to be fun,” you plead. Her eyes sidle away like a frightened colt’s. “Just let your brother see Santa, and then we’re out of here.”
The other kids protest. “Ahh, I thought we could see the Christmas tree court.”
“Another time,” you say, ruffling the littlest’s hair by way of reassurance. You have to focus on the matter at hand, getting out of a situation before a full-fledged tantrum erupts to embarrass you all. The other kids’ disappointments will have to be addressed later, a renewed source of guilt and insomnia. As you look at their crestfallen expressions, you resolve to plan an outing for just them.
You walk slower since Sarah fatigues, and take breaks at empty benches. Especially when the snow falls, because the cold heightens her muscle tone and physical discomfort. The poor little lady pushes through because such pain is all she’s ever known, but at times the aching and the mental stresses overwhelm.
You cook at home to avoid a melt-down in a restaurant. Staying in appeals to your non-confrontational nature, and you take outings with less frequency.
You used to love the winter. Its cold made you increase your pace, its crisp air filled your lungs with enthusiastic fire. The snow transformed even garbage bins into works of crystalline art, and you marveled at each perfect snowflake.
Now its approach fills you with dread. The schedule disruptions, the anticipated pain, the intensity of the increased workload of clearing walk and drive ways leave you wishing you could hibernate and wake when the weather and the distractions become more manageable.
Since you can’t do that, remember please, and try to anticipate the unexpected even in what should be happy occasions.
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Very good letter, Kerry
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There is trying too hard and there is not trying because it is hard. Remember how hard it is, then remember why it matters to keep trying: because Sarah lives in solitary confinement and you are trying to find the key that sets her free.
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