Wednesday, June 23, 2010
So, I went to the reunion, and Someone I Once Knew was not there. This reunion is for the school where I used to teach before Woohoo was born, and is held every year, and each time I've gone, SIOK has been there. Not this time. I'm flooded with relief and guilt - just sure she somehow found my blog, read it, and didn't come because of that. Another side of me says, "Make no assumptions." Then there is the side clamoring, "No accidents." I feel guilty for sharing our personal story on the Internet, yet the tugging emotion is that maybe it was helpful in the overall scheme of things, regardless of whether she read it or not.
I don't know.
What I do know is the 20 or so of us that were there, ranging in ages from 47 (love being the youngest at something) to a good 77, sat around a long table and gave our reports for the year. Many told of their grandchildren, how old they are now, what line of work their kids are in, who has graduated and who has gotten married. The easy stuff, and believe me, the stuff I was eager to hear.
Wasn't until one of the people seated at the far end with me had her turn and shared that her six-year-old granddaughter only had two more treatments for leukemia, that things went from Level 1 to Level 10 in a hurry.
I shared that we had gotten a retired guide dog for our son with special needs, and that most of my life was consumed with the caring, planning, advocating and recovering for and from his needs. Turns out the man sitting right next to me (that I didn't know - he left before I came to the school), started his career in special ed. He used to work at one of the local hospitals training doctors to be more compassionate and humane in dealing with parents getting diagnoses for their kids. Straight to heaven.
I talked to the woman whose granddaughter was at the end of a two-year ordeal for cancer, and learned that her grandson (younger brother) was showing signs of autism. The grandmother (retired teacher) could see the red flags but her daughter was understandably overwhelmed with the needs of her daughter, and was not quite there yet. The grandmother asked me a bunch of questions to which I reluctantly said yes, yes, yes. How do you tell someone that yes, it sounds as though their grandson has autism and as soon as their daughter is out of the woods, they can join that club, too?
There is suffering: First Noble Truth.
What people say when their turn comes up to report on their year is not all there is to the story.
I believe, now, that SIWK and as some of the commenters pointed out, I would find many things we have in common as parents, as women, as fellow sufferers, if we moved our egos and pain bodies out of the way and let the understory emerge.