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.


jess said...

everyone has a story. and a story beyond the one they tell.


RED said...

IF "someone I once knew" did happen to read your blog, she NEEDED to hear it, sistah! And, I'm so glad you so enjoyed your have so much knowledge to offer others.

Jerri said...

The understory is where the juice lies. And you're right--we all have more in common than we have differences.

This truth is hard to hear and hold when pain is screaming so loudly, though.

Deb Shucka said...

SIOK will return when you need her to. The gift of her absence was just that, a gift. I'm wondering how many others in this group of people had a hard time with the illusion of perfection she hides behind.

The truth you share, the light of it, is necessary and a huge blessing to us all.

Lori said...

We all have pains that remain under the surface. It catches glimpses of daylight in bragging, in condescension, in shyness, in anger and fear and hyper-emotions....

No assumptions. It could be the facade of perfection has serious cracks that needed extensive mending. It could also be that she couldn't face one more year of parroting her story. Hidden demons are tough to fight publicly.

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

I would like to ditto what everyone has said in every comment before mine! And I've also had people approach me and say that their grandson, etc. seems to be showing signs of autism and ask, after describing him, what I think. The reaching out, the searching, the pain - it gets me every time.

Anonymous said...

I agree chances are you are right... so often it is very hard to do - "set our pained bodies aside" - I wish it was easier.

Wanda said...

May we all be comforted.

Tabitha Bird said...

I agree with Jess. Stories have many layers, don't they.

Amber said...

I agree with Deb... Maybe you needed to write your feelings, she needed to read them (maybe she did, maybe not), so that someone else could share what they needed to share and be HEARD.

I adore you.

:) said...

Even if she didn't read it, someone who needed to read your post did. It reminds me of that Nancy Arione video, where she asks the friend on the phone,

"Can you please call me back and ask how I'M doing?"

Wake up calls are good, and not always painless.

Anonymous said...

I belong to a book club. Some of the women I've known for years, others are new. We're all older, middle aged, we've all dropped the veils that shield us from each other. We no longer compete but rather support each other. It's wonderful. And yes, everybody suffers.

Me said...

As Deb Shucka put it - illusion of perfection. I cannot stand it when people are this way - Nobody and nobody's life is perfect and those that act like it is are only trying to cover what isn't.

Don't feel guilty because you were simply speaking the truth and sometimes the truth hurts. SIWK probably knows this better than anyone. I would bet that SIWK not being there was a gift for others as well.

kario said...

This is just one more example of an interaction you were meant to have. Like the playgrounds you and Rojo and Flicka visit, this was one more place where building community around each other is so important. Not in order to share our successes, but in order to be able to support each other in our trials as well.

Love this.

Love you.