There’s paperwork involved…

Life goes on, and we either follow the stream or the stream drags us.  We are, once more, filing a petition for guardianship of J, and spent the morning signing our names, answering questions, going through metal detectors.  Not in that order, of course…

J was game for the whole outing.  Today being Wednesday, it is PIZZA DAY…and that is enough motivation for him.  Not much fuss is made by the guards once we explain he is wearing a wrist brace, and J has no issue relinquishing Slinky to the x-ray machine.  He will even stand there, a modified version of the Vitruvian Man, letting the detector wand sweep around him in search of something that will “whoop!” and require more thorough searching.

People in North Carolina are helpful, and kind.  We’ve also noticed they are more cheerful and welcoming than in other places.  We suspect it’s partly the Southern Charm thing, but we think they are just generally happy.  The very few not-quite beaming faces are easily forgotten in the face of all the kindness and understanding that J has encountered here.  At this particular point we are wondering why we ever considered moving anywhere else…fate pointed us to Raleigh, and in Raleigh we are.

Of course, we are vigilant of the copperheads we’ve been told can be found in the backyard.  We have always been leery of black widow spiders, and brown recluses.  We are familiar with the mosquitoes (not through any desire to be closely acquainted with them…but they DO love Dada, and it seems they’ve discovered ME, too), and with the weather alerts that might send us scrambling to the closet under the stairs.  Every place has a not-so-bright side, and we are pleased to report that the not-so-bright side here is vigorously outshone by the good stuff…

J, our resident weatherman, likes his new digs.  He likes the grocery stores, the farmers’ market.  He loves his new psych.  He is absolutely enamored with the idea that he can freely walk to the mailbox without encountering dogs, and he has grown accustomed to the many birds that visit our backyard.

J is happy.  J is home.

All this makes us happy.  All this gives us peace.

And then we watch the news reports from back home and we wonder how people are going to make it to tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.  Aid is flowing in…but in a very measured way.  Things are not improving as much as some would have us believe.  We hear many reports of people standing in hours-long lines to get gas for their cars.  We hear of store shelves completely stripped of anything that people could eat.  We hear of the difficulties involved in navigating life without power, water, or any degree of comfort.  I’ve been there with J, but it was so long ago (and there wasn’t the pervasive presence of the cell phone, Instagram, Facebook to remind us of the misery) that it has actually made me feel like it was all a dream.

Back on the island there is a crisis.  I know that many mothers with kids who face the same challenges J faces are struggling right now.  I think of the elderly and their challenges.  I think of those who have chronic illnesses and cannot get the regular medical attention they require.  I argued with an idiot online who kept rationalizing why the debt PR has matters more than the current situation.  I decided to just drop it…it’s not worth it…

But the people back home ARE worth it.  And the mail is running in very limited areas, but that will -hopefully- spread to the rest of the island little by little.  It has to get better…

In the meantime, our happiness and peace feel a little uncomfortable, and so we fill boxes, make lists, and get ready to go to the P.O.  It’s all we can do…for now.

Home is where we are…

It has been a while since we moved into our new home.  We are fully settled in; we know the neighborhood; we know the quirks of the house and backyard; we are used to the sounds we hear; we watch the birds come and go from the feeders, their numbers slowly dwindling as the season progresses.

J is happy.

In the meantime, lots has happened.  My mother passed away, our island was badly battered by a hurricane, we have loved ones and acquaintances we have not yet heard of, and we are doing our best to help, even at this distance.  We have made friends, and we have met our neighbors.  We have found a place for everything, and put everything in its place.  We have acquired paint chips, and will be painting things here and there…

J is happy.

Life, as you can see, keeps happening around us and away from us, and we experience it in the ways that are available to us.  My mother’s passing was not a surprise; she had been declining for a very long time, and this last illness was brief.  I hope she is at peace, but the concern lurks that, with things as they are in Puerto Rico, her cremation might not have happened yet.  This is waking me up at night as I wonder how long they can reasonably keep bodies in the morgues of an island that is so sorely in need of repairs to its power grid.

My mother and I were not close.  I don’t think we were meant to be.  I never quite understood her, but I did learn from her.  I learned what I wanted for my children, and what I would like to do to make sure they had it.  Grief is a strange creature as a rule, but this time it is wearing so many layers of strangeness that I find myself struggling with it some days…  I keep going back to Sting’s 1991 song Why Should I Cry for You? and that line that goes: “mountains of endless falling for all my days remaining.”  It does feel like that…I am mourning a person I didn’t really know in the context that I should have, and she is -in many ways- the greatest cypher in my life.  J comes a close second, but J seems to want to get closer…sometimes.

On that note: we recently watched The A Word.  It was heart-wrenching at times.   I found myself sobbing at very small moments that wouldn’t quite hit the average viewer who doesn’t have a J in their life.  I am a fan of Lee Ingleby, and I was expecting to like the show, but we were truly moved by the portrayal of a family coping (and occasionally failing) with a diagnosis of Autism.  If you have a chance (and Amazon Prime) do watch it…

As for the island…the poor island.  I have been making sure that I remind everyone, far and wide, that yes, we are U.S. citizens, and yes, we have a massive debt…but that the debt was generated and accrued by the government.  The people that are sitting in the dark, waiting for help, risking massive outbreaks of gastrointestinal viruses and other illnesses that will spread like wildfire under the conditions prevailing…those people need help.

I don’t know if Amazon has a fund.  I don’t know if you’re into charitable giving.  I don’t know if mercy is a thing when it’s not for a third-world country…but these people need charitable giving, and they need mercy now.

There are areas of the island that are still pretty much isolated from the rest of the world due to the damage sustained there.  There are areas that will never truly recover.  Puerto Rico is, as I know it, Paradise, but as it is now…well, it will take a long time for people there to go back to “how it used to be”, and -sadly- how it used to be a few days before Irma skirted the island (a miracle!  Saved again by Yokahu!!!!) and then Maria slammed it…that wasn’t so great, at least not for a while.

So if you are into humanitarian endeavors: people down there will be very grateful in the middle of their bone-deep emotional shock if you give a little, or a lot.  I’ve been a post-hurricane island-dweller with two small children, no water, no electricity, no food…and it was horrible, and that is one of the reasons I left the island.  My heart, however, flies back often, and I’m doing my best (fractured though it is) to help in any way I can…

That’s it…try to help if you can, and if you can’t but you’re still inclined to help…pray.