A tree! A tree! A Christmas tree!!!!

We have, earlier than usual, acquired the annual Christmas tree.

Actually, Dada was the one who went to get it yesterday while J and I changed sheets, aired out rooms, and worked through a difference of opinions on whether he was ready to eat cheese (after his recent bout with illness), or not…

The tree came as a surprise.  Dada had sent a message letting me know that he’d bought it, and as soon as I heard the garage door open I sent J downstairs to “help Dada”.  The joy in his face was something we had not seen -in a Christmas-related scenario- in quite a while.

J has always been a Christmas person.  He likes the decorations, the ornaments, the lights, the Twelve Days of gift-giving, the music…  He had, however, lost his yen for participating in the tree-decorating routine.  He wanted the tree decorated, but he didn’t want to be in the thick of it as it happened…

Yesterday afternoon he couldn’t wait to get the lights on the tree.  Last night he wanted to rush through dinner to decorate the tree.  We thought he was going to leave the room, and were pleasantly surprised when not only he didn’t leave (thus delegating the tree-trimming to us oldsters) but stayed and started grabbing ornaments and placing them where he thought they’d look best.

This was all done with a smile, giggles, and Christmas music playing in the background.  It wasn’t done in a hurry, and he even stopped to pose for photos, and wore a Santa’s hat while sifting through the boxes.

Of course, my friends, we hadn’t MEANT to decorate the tree last night.  We had brought it into the house so that it would be here ahead of the bad weather they’ve predicted for our usual tree-buying excursion day.  That J became enthusiastic about the whole thing was a happy development.

Later in the evening, as we relaxed after cleaning the kitchen and taking our showers, J emerged from his TV room once more and went downstairs.  Dada followed him to make sure all was well, and found our son with a canister of tinsel in his hand.  On the tree went the tinsel, with more smiles, lights, music to punctuate the process…

Twelve Days is just around the corner, and the recent chaos has prevented me from being fully ready for it, but J is ready.  J is happy to be home, feeling better, and having his Christmas tree in the house…

It feels good……..

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From the bad, good comes…

J got sick.  Really, really sick.  It was sudden, and it was brutal.  Poor guy went from Whee!!!!! to a holy-cow-wow fever in less than two hours.  And then came the stomach issues…

We went to Urgent Care.  No flu, no infection, no strep…  We came home.  It got worse.

We ran to the ER.  We hadn’t done that in quite a while.

J was feeling poorly enough that he didn’t argue.  He surrendered to all the ministrations of the healthcare professionals without so much as a peep…and one of them was the nurse version of Columbo..

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without the redeeming quality of sharp intelligence behind the apparent bumbling.  Ok, not even the bumbling was apparent.  It was real.  She freaked us out, but we couldn’t say anything because we needed J to stay calm.

The urine sample left on the counter for the whole time we were there was a wee bit much (no pun intended), and the trail of used alcohol wipes was not particularly comforting.  I kept thinking to myself that we need to time these things better and get a fresh shift when we go, but one cannot really time these things…

So we had to let J get his vein poked four times…twice for blood, and twice for an IV.  He was not stoic about it, but he kept the anxiety to a minimum.  He wasn’t feeling well, but he understood that he needed to let himself be poked so he could feel better.

And then came the part where they suggested an abdominal scan.  I had wondered if maybe it was appendicitis, but I wasn’t sure they’d take me seriously.  They did.  The kindest tech in the planet came over to get J, and had the most soothing, comforting attitude without being condescending.  I took the Proloquo and immediately added a picture of the scanner so J could start understanding what was about to happen.  He wasn’t happy, but he let us take him.

J doesn’t like laying flat.  I think it makes him dizzy.  He sleeps at an angle…always has.  His sit-ups are more like lean-forwards.  If you ask him to lie down the immediate reaction is to kick himself upright with his legs.  Being moved from a gurney to the bed for the scan was not something he wanted to do.  He sat down, yelped, and got up again…

BUT…

He let me persuade him to relax and lie down.  He had his head propped up, and his legs propped up.  He wasn’t happy, but he did it.  We took a moment (thanks to the lovely, lovely technician) to look at each other, breathe deeply, and calm down.  Then J let me position him, saw how I got the gown on to cover my sensitive bits, and I stood next to him, holding his hands over his head while he listened to his iPad and breathed.  He breathed deeply.  He breathed calmly.  He would move his eyes and look at me.  He would squeeze my hands…

It was all very quick.  He was as good as gold.  I was close to tears with gratitude for the moment.  When I went to let go of his hand so I could go around to help him get up, he squeezed my hand again, and wouldn’t let me go.

The beautiful thing about this moment is that J wasn’t freaking out.  He was calm.  He was relaxed.  He had done something (to us) extraordinary, but he was fine with the whole process once he took those deep breaths and we connected.  The beautiful thing about this moment is that J TRUSTED me, and I could tell that he was wanting to prolong it for a little while longer.

Six hours after we got there, we got sent home.  It’s just a nasty stomach bug.  A REALLY nasty stomach bug.  J arrived here with the intention of going to bed, even though the sun was out.  He accepted that he was to eat according to the list provided, that he had to take one medication to help him stop throwing up, and that he could only drink water in smaller amounts until he was feeling better.

Today he has improved, and is more himself.  Loves me one minute; hates me the next.  Wants me around, hounds me, kicks me out of the room.  He has FINALLY learned the ASL for SICK, and now says it over and over.  SICK?  SICK?  Not quite so much as yesterday, son…not quite so much.  He’s slowly been recovering from the ugliness he was feeling, and little by little he is eating more things from the list, and accepting still that his regular diet is a no-go.

Dada, of course, is now thinking he’s ready to get sick.  I, of course, am equipped with gloves, Clorox, Lysol, and the caution that comes with the realization that I cannot let this go around and around and around.  You pick up a water bottle, you write your name on it…it’s yours and yours alone.  Time to change sheets?  Time to wash towels?  Time to check if a butt is properly wiped?  GLOVES!  I am a one-woman cleaning crew on a mission…

In a few days, when everyone is better, I will swap out the toothbrushes, deep clean the bathrooms all over again…and we will, maybe, get down to the business of Twelve Days.

Right now we are just trying to get back on track, and helping J recover from this nasty bout of whatever viral thing it is he found and brought home randomly.  The cart-wipes they offer at the stores?  We’re using them.  The antibacterial goo that doesn’t really do anything?  We’re using it.  Seeing J sick is grueling emotionally because it’s so hard for him, even with the Proloquo, to put into words some of his misery…

But we’re getting there…we’re getting better.  We’re dealing with it…and our son TRUSTS ME!

Every morning, at around 9:30, I ask J to help with the books.  The project is simple but tedious, and J seems to be enjoying both things.

As I have mentioned before, we have a lot of books.  Those books are catalogued in a spreadsheet, and they are assigned a cube in our library.  We have them listed by title, and by author; we have a list of which book is where.  That’s as far as it goes; I have not succumbed to my inner frustrated librarian and gone Dewey Decimal on the whole thing.

When someone (namely Dada) takes a book out and doesn’t put it where it belongs, I end up with a pile of books on a table in the Diogenes Club (don’t ask), or with books that have been shelved in the wrong cube…a mistake that usually goes undiscovered until I am looking for the same book and cannot find it anywhere.

J’s job is to stamp each book with the cube number it’s assigned to, and to tamp it with a letter G to indicate it is ours.  Ex Libris stamps are lovely, but we couldn’t make up our mind as to what we wanted on it so we went with just a regular old G.

Depending on the type of book that populates each cube, J can do anywhere from 6 to 11 cubes in half an hour.  He loves it.  He sets up his rubber stamps and ink pads on the dining room table, and he helps me move whatever batch he’s working on next.  When he’s done, we carry the books back, and grab another batch.

In the afternoon, after his bath but before his snack, he does another half hour of book-stamping.  His smile broadens and gets brighter as he progresses with this job he’s been given.

I’m pretty sure that he feels included in something that seemed very much outside the realm of his participation before.  He has always liked books, and he enjoys being read to, but the books in the general library didn’t seem to interest him much.  That we have great independent and used-book stores here helps matters.  J has more than B&N to choose from, and he really likes the opportunity to explore these places freely.

Dada says that once J is done with the books we already have, he can take care of doing the same for whatever books come into the house.  I am sure that he will not run out of things to be involved in with the library anytime soon.  Books are to us what shoes were to Imelda Marcos: we can never have enough.

Of course, there are always more books that belong to J, and that he keeps in his TV room upstairs.  He can stamp those, too, but with a J.  This is something he recognizes so keenly that we have to remind him he’s not the only J in the world.  Perhaps I will have a custom stamp made with his handwriting so he will be even happier with the project.

On Tuesday we went to J’s psych appointment, and he did very well.  It was the first time we rode a cab here, and he was relaxed in spite of the more complex traffic patterns in this town.  Because the appointment was later in the day, we met with some hectic driving (including our driver’s), and it was already getting dark by the time we got home.  I made the next appointment for early in the day as I think it will make it easier for J.

The transition to cooler-weather clothing has been easier than expected; the fact that he now will gladly wear a polo shirt voluntarily has been a happy surprise.

We are hoping that we will soon find a group activity for him outside of home.  We think he’s ready to meet some peers and interact with them, even if it’s once every couple of weeks.  J is a person who loves his routine, and he feels comfortable when he’s allowed to ease into new things.  Since school ended he hasn’t had a group of friends, but we know that he like it when he finally finds one.  Because this takes adjusting and learning other people’s rhythms, we know he will come home the first few times wanting to cocoon and relax.  This is the pattern…

J’s life, like ours, is about adjusting to what is new, what is new again, what crops up unexpectedly, and what slowly unfolds announcing itself.  We are all working on being the best current version of ourselves, and we feel we are succeeding.  We expect a lot from ourselves, and from each other, but we’re taking our time in building the life we want.

A year ago we were falling apart.  A year ago we didn’t understand a lot of things.  Now we are in a better spot, looking at things from a better angle.

Little things give J a better grasp of what permanence is.  Rubber-stamping books, drilling holes in walls to install shelves, painting rooms, standing outside discussing next spring’s plantings, and talking about how to make the garage better…  All this tells him we’re here to stay, and it gives him peace.

We work on it everyday…and it seems to be working…

Six weeks later…

I finally spoke to my stepmother yesterday.  She still has no power, no running water, no cell phone service unless she drives to a town twenty minutes away from where she lives, and she is now alone.  Like many other young people who don’t want to lose a term or a school year, her granddaughter moved to the States.

Six weeks later…and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are still reeling from being smacked head-on by a massive hurricane.  If you have ever lived on an island, you know how it is when something happens and you’re far from hubs of “civilization”.  If you have ever lived on a small island,  you know how the distance between the two farthest points can seem greater when things are bad.  If Puerto Rico got royally screwed by this storm, the Virgin Islands (which are quite small in comparison to the 9104 km sq that makes up PR) must be in really, really, really, REALLY bad shape.

We are still waiting for packages we mailed in early October to be delivered.  For all intents and purposes, the packages are in the post office, but they remain there because when someone goes to claim them they “can’t be located”.  This doesn’t make sense to my organization-oriented brain, but there must be a kernel truth or I am having my leg royally pulled (and manipulated) by people who need the help, but want it taken to them…  Sigh…

Did I tell you the story about J and the waitress?  I don’t know if I did, but I will do a quick recap for you now:

A few weeks ago we tried a new place for lunch.  It was J, Dada and myself, and there were two other tables with customers.  This is a very informal place with quick lunches for busy people.  Our order was taken by one waitress, and another was serving nearby, but every time she walked past she would glance at J and smile.  Very pretty girl; young, sweet-looking, very kind demeanor.  At some point we noticed she had become our server, and even the owner came out to say hello.  J, of course, was focused on his food, and in his little internal universe.  He was smiling, though, and he was happily enjoying his meal.

We asked for the check, and the young lady brought it…she bent her knees a little to take a peek at J’s face.  She said: he has beautiful eyes.  I turned around and said to J “she likes your eyes”, and she then said (with a HUGE smile on her face) “it’s everything…his eyes, his eyebrows, his face…EVERYTHING!”  J just kept smiling as he looked down at the table.

We thanked her…we were tickled pink.  If she did it for the tip, good for her…she got a nice one.  If she meant it, well, even better…J IS beautiful and he deserves to be noticed by pretty girls, even if he can’t do anything about it…

There are bad things happening out there: shootings, violence of all sorts, hunger, strife…and then you find a nice little thing.  And it makes you smile, and you say “yes, that was lovely…thank you!”

Maybe those packages will materialize today.  Maybe things will get better back on the island.  Maybe J will look up at a girl who smiles at him one of these days, and maybe he will understand that someone has smiled because of him…or just to make him happy.

Even when it’s not all good, it’s good…

 

 

The old normal is the new normal…again…

Dada started working yesterday.  J was surprised by this development, but he took it in stride…at first he was mildly confused (“what?  We’re not in a perpetual state of vacation????  I wasn’t consulted about this!!!”), then he moved into guarded acceptance (“Ok, go to work, I guess.  We’ll be here…waiting!  We can do stuff together…right?  Am I right, lady who is usually around and has looked less frazzled than I’m accustomed to in the past few months?”), and into being over it by six o’clock last evening (“Where is he?  Why isn’t he here?  He has to go BACK?  Tomorrow?  What madness is this????????”).

Interestingly enough, Dada reports that this is pretty much the way things went for him, too.  He likes what he’s doing (even though he’s new to it).  He wouldn’t mind getting the position (or a similar one in the same place) on a full-time basis.  That being said: going back to work (wearing a tie and slacks) after months of walking around (in jeans covered in paint, t-shirts with holes in them, and socks) at a more leisurely pace, and with the benefit of choosing his activities for the day can’t possibly be easy.

My life, with Dada working or at home, doesn’t change much.  I’m still the one who figures out what goes where, when and how things get done, and I am always with an eye peeled and an ear cocked for the next development.  Laundry always has to get done; meals have to be cooked; someone has to figure out what thingamajig is required to make life more, well, efficient.  That’s me…whether I have Dada at home (which makes it possible to delegate a task here and there), or he is at work (making it possible to not be distracted by one more person who requires my attention).

And so our life goes back to the rhythm that it was accustomed to before we shook it up, tossed it in the air, and grabbed it with a whoop and a holler.  We can hardly believe we’ve been in this house for exactly three months, and that we were in an entirely different city or state before then.  Dada looked surprised when he realized he’d not worked for five months, and then he looked thankful that he could (with extreme economies and limited resources) afford to do that.

The truth is he needed it.  His old job was going to kill him either very slowly (with the gradual onset of high blood pressure), or quickly (a stroke or heart attack).  Our marriage was suffering, and so was our family life.  It hasn’t been a bed of rose petals (the idea of a bed of roses implies thorns, doesn’t it?), but we are all a lot calmer, happier, relaxed, and our focus has shifted to a more positive place.  The focus is on us…we are the thing that matters, and we are giving ourselves our due.

J has learned quite a bit in the past few months.  He has learned, for one, that this is home, and that he doesn’t like the idea of it not being home.  Packing of any sort (even if it’s just for storage) requires clarification: we’re not going anywhere, but we don’t need this right now.  His vocabulary has expanded to include the names of places he wants to go to, and we think this is a reflection of what variety he has available now.  J has, thankfully, broken out of some ruts, and -regrettably- has tried to plant himself firmly in others.  We have made a point of not becoming too attached to his structures, and we’ve discovered that -if we wait to make a suggestion while driving around- J is more amenable to breaking away from what he has firmly set his mind to (as in wanting to go to Farmers’ Market on a day when it was, inexplicably, closed).

Another thing we have noticed is that J’s enunciation has improved massively.  Those K, T, SH, CH sounds are coming out much more clearly.  He will never speak with the crispness of a Shakespearean actor, but he now makes sounds that used to be challenging.  On Sunday evening, for example, he went to his board, rummaged through his tray, and announced -quite clearly- that he wanted to go to Costco.  What used to sound like “cocoa” now sounded precisely like what J meant: he wanted to go to Costco.  This from the kid who used to say he wanted to go to “Sham’s” not that long ago; he is, we’ve noticed, a Costco convert…there wasn’t a Costco in Morgantown, but there is one here, and J has his own card…he is smiling on the photo…broadly.

Of course, the one downside of Dada going back to work is that J’s internal clock is entirely off-kilter.  This morning, it being Wednesday and pizza and Lego, he was up by 5 a.m., and has been trying to make the day go faster since then.  Thank goodness it is also paper-shredding day, and this has kept him occupied from time to time; that I was outside at six a.m. (it was forty-something degrees and I was in my nightgown and robe) feeding the fish in the pond because The Supervisor decided it was time to start micro-managing my task list is entirely beside the point.  Things are, in spite of these small quirks, a lot better now that we’re all more relaxed.

I think, quite honestly, that it’s the windows.  J can look outside from just about any room in the house (his bathroom, the half-bath downstairs and the laundry room being the exceptions), and he can step out on the patio if he is so inclined.  The only glitch there is the frantic bird activity (so many cardinals and chickadees!), and the fact that there is a cat (we don’t think she’s a stray because she has a collar) who spends the livelong day under a bush, and the nights under the grill’s vinyl cover.  We don’t feed her in spite of her friendliness because we are not looking for a cat (since the demise of one of ours, and the disappearance of the other…we assume some animal took her, or someone offered her fresh fish and a lifetime of not brushing her luscious mane), and because it doesn’t look to be hungry.  We are pretty sure she just wants to be friends, gain access to our home, and scratch all the furniture that survived our previous pets.  She is rather insistent, and we refer to her -tongues firmly planted in cheeks- as Elizabeth Warren.

J is not into this whole cat situation.  He’s having none of it.  When he finally saw her, happily running up to Dada as he fed the fish, he screamed as if he’d just seen an angry gollywoggle.  It took all my charm and patience to keep him from locking the cat (and Dada!) out on the patio.

But all is well in spite of these little things.  And we will catch up on our new routine and vary it as needed, and add more places J wants to go and use them for vocabulary (would you believe he knows how to say Cost Plus?  Doesn’t call it World Market…but he tells you he wants to go there…cookies…they have good cookies, and he likes their tableware…)  He is also happy because this is a recycling-friendly town, and people take their own bags to the store.  J will not allow us to leave the house without those reusable bags…

See?  Old normal is new again…familiar but interesting.  Comfortable but exciting…

Ye-ay us!

Notes about life here…

The love affair with Raleigh continues.  Whether it loves us back, or not, is up for debate.  We continue to be comfortable (although the humidity level does wreak havoc on my aches and pains), and happy in spite of the everyday challenges being new to a place poses.

We still get lost driving around (not as much as we used to), and have figured out that a lot of the places that seemed oh-so-far-away are really down the street and we’ve been putting off going there for no good reason.

A few days ago J and I were at Michael’s (again…), and we ran into a group of developmentally-disabled adults on an outing.  We see these often, but we’ve yet to figure out a good placement for J.  I’m sure this will take time because, with J, these things take time.  Anyway…as we were walking towards the register a young man from the group turned around and said, rather loudly and enthusiastically, “HI!!!!!!”  The rest of the group turned around to look at us (with varying degrees of interest and comfort), and J -much to my surprise- stopped and looked at his interlocutor before responding with a spontaneous, if not as enthusiastic, HELLO.  It gave me hope that we will soon find a group of peers where he will feel comfortable…

We have also made progress with the whole “let’s go outside and feed the fish, shall we?” request.  Initially J was fascinated but scared, and now he’s fascinated, hesitant, and vigilant of any flying creatures (this includes, regrettably, leaves that fall in a spin from the trees in our backyard), but he does go out there and throw food at the fish.  Once he’s done I have to go out and brush the flakes and sticks into the water, and the fish give me weird looks, but we have made tiny strides in this department.

If Dada is grilling, J now likes to sit on his rocking chair in the patio.  This has made us very happy.  He doesn’t want to walk into the landscaped areas yet (and we really don’t mind because he needs heavy boots in this area where copperheads might appear out of nowhere…don’t go on Google to look for this information…you might freak out like we have), but he is happier with our slice of the great outdoors than we had seen him in previous weeks.

J’s TV room is coming along.  His Lego and train track village is up and running, but we’ve only unpacked about sixty-percent of the Legos he brought assembled from WV.  The trick is to try to keep them in one piece, and that is almost like an archaeological dig…we take one out, go back to the assembly manual, and clean it as we go along making repairs.

We painted the garage for J to have a friendlier space for his treadmill and other exercise.  The ceiling is taking a little longer because we are not Michelangelo.  By this I don’t mean it’s a complex paint job, but rather that we don’t have the ability to do this comfortably.  Next summer, with the benefit of less rain and longer days, we will paint the garage floor.  The handyman will come when he’s available to mount the TV on the wall so J doesn’t have to strain to watch his movies while he “walks.”

As we watch the leaves turn and we complete all the little detail work involved in being fully comfortable in our home (the crafts closet is done, thank goodness!), we continue to figure out what works best for us.  Whereas J used to like his TV room door closed in the townhouse, here he keeps it open and we can go in and out to check on him, or work with him, or just hang out with him.  He is not as territorial of that space in this house as he was in WV.  His bedroom is a lot more comfortable.  He likes the walk-in closet and the windows that give him a view of the backyard.  He likes that there is a small separation between the door and his actual sleeping area…

Yesterday we finally went to the library, and J loved it in spite of their not having videos for borrowing.  We thought for sure that would turn him off, but he liked the way the light streamed in through the tall windows.  Everything was on the same level, and you could look out and see the parking lot surrounded by trees.  A lady was giving a painting demonstration, and while J didn’t want to sit down for it, he was observing from a distance and smiling.  We then walked to a wall where some of her works were being displayed and he identified everything she had painted.  He especially liked a painting that depicted some piglets, and another with a chimp.

We have encountered several dogs in the neighborhood, and J has managed to keep his cool.  The presence of leashes is always encouraging to him, and there has only been one instance of someone’s dog running out as we drive by that unnerved him.  We handled it well, though.  He goes for short walks with me, and when we see someone walking a dog, he feels comfortable just crossing the street to avoid them.

In the last piece of news: J has been on .75 mg of Risperdal for a week.  He has been mildly anxious, a little more persistent about certain things, but we think this med reduction will work for now.  Of course, we have to make sure that we continue to engage him frequently and proactively, and that we address any concerns he might have during the course of the day, but we feel confident that this was the right time to drop that .25 mg from his dosage.

So…there you go…

We are holding up just fine.

 

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.