Sometimes the subtle things, they can slip by. The start of school this year brought change. So. Much. Change. My first born teen girl adjusting to high school, where everything was new; the scratchy uniforms, friends,rules, hours of homework and higher expectations. My heart felt overly full her angst and excitement, with her beauty and with amazement that my first girl, is so grown up.
My daughter Zoe started her second year of middle school with a new sense of awareness, asking me to to fix the “ little girl “ pattern on her new wheelchair seat, so sure was she, that its pale design would make her stand out, that kids would stare at it. And so I spent hours filling in pale yellow stars with a black fabric marker, eager to erase whatever unease I could.
And then in all of this back to school flurry, Zoe got sick. Really sick. The kind of sick that causes a kid to miss twenty days of school and back and forth calls and appointments with doctors and specialists. I felt pulled back to a time when she was little and her sickness was all consuming.
But this was different. Zoe is older and smarter and her tear-filled eyes would meet mine and she would ask me over and over, when it would stop, ask me why she was so sick.
How did I forget her singing? The way she sings when she plays, when she rides in the car, when she is coloring or just hanging around, always singing. Consumed with my motherly worries, I settled into the silence. I took notes for the doctors, the changes in her routine, provided detailed health reports. I wrote everything down. But the singing? I can’t really explain, how I accepted the silence, but I did.
She was singing softly when I first heard it on the monitor again, I stopped, standing at the stove where I was cooking dinner and just smiled. Pure Delight.
Her voice grew stronger, her songs more varied. In the car and around the house. How had I not noticed her singing had completely stopped, weeks and weeks ago? She was back in school, smiling and singing and I was thankful and delighted with each verse.
A couple of weeks ago my teen girl and I were shopping at a craft store when she stopped, and feeling more relaxed with a 4 day weekend ahead, asked me to buy something totally whimsical and fun, something we could play with. And so we did. And she played with it over and over. For periods of time she was immersed with it, shared it with her sister, their heads bent together in play and concentration, there was laughter and only a relaxed grin on my teen girl’s face. Delight.
On Halloween night, my girls and I headed up the street together in the darkness of our still warm desert nights. Up and down the street, house to house, backing up Zoe’s manual wheelchair on the inclined driveways and trudging up twisty stone sidewalks door to door, it was a workout and just as I began to feel discouraged, watching those parents who only had to stand at the sidewalk end, with the scent of their open cocktails lingering in the air, Zoe let out an enthusiastic and very loud “ YEEEES!” grabbing a fistful of air as her arm came down emphasizing her declaration.
“ Zoe?” I questioned. Unsure at what she was celebrating, curbside in the dark I peered over the top of her wheelchair and saw her flashlight radiating from inside her candy bag, the top of her head peeking in.
“ Let’s go, Mom” she continued.” Don’t stop, I am ready for more, hit it!”
And then I thought about this girl just a month before and pushing her up the hill became a little easier.