Sunday, July 25, 2010

note to the abandoned (a Wish and a sidestep)

Okay, so it's slightly evil to do this while building narrative momentum - I did, after all, just say the words "Eldest" and Wish" in the same sentence - but the Eldest's Wish needs to wait while I settle something.

There are two misconceptions that you might have at this moment:
1. that the Eldest is terminally ill
2. that this is the most extraordinary gift that we could possibly be given, and that bubbling clouds of delight are whisking us far, far up beyond the mundane.

Well, 1. most certainly, he is NOT - and we're grateful for that. The Make-A-Wish foundation grants Wishes to children who are terminally ill, as well as to children with certain life-threatening conditions. The Eldest was such a child some years ago, but he is nothing of the sort now. And 2., well, look at the superlatives. Consider the tone that goes with them. Nod slowly as you realize that, in fact, this Wish makes me deeply uncomfortable.

There is something both humbling and deeply invasive about having a child with a chronic illness, and watching healthcare professionals gather, ready to offer you their time and help. The family home shifts towards being a place of socially constructed pretenses of privacy, whose social patterns are known all too well to those who support it. So, fine. There are other people involved. It was the loss of independence was harder to adjust to, and the ongoing sense of social obligation.

It's not like I can go to an infusion nurse's home and pop an IV into her kid, or cook her dinner. (Although I did try to feed them at every opportunity, and they were very tolerant of my efforts. Oddly, the nurses had always "just eaten something, oh, not fifteen minutes before I arrived." Um, right.) I know that they get paid for their work, and that it is work, and not a personal favor. But their job is inside the family sphere and part of something so very intimate and central to the heart of me - of us - to the point where I can't always treat them as professionals. We force, ask, push, hope them into becoming people, and then relax a bit.

You can have a social exchange, or build a relationship of mutual caring with people. Use it to discharge debt to the point necessary. You can't do either, really, with a professional maintaining an appropriate emotional distance.

And a Wish is a gift bigger than anything we've seen yet, and given by people that don't have a relationship with either the Eldest or me. Yes, there's someone being paid somewhere, but we see the volunteers, the people giving of their time and representing those who gave of their wallet. It's the waving of a wand, held by people we don't know and who are careful to stay remote, and who will happily vanish, post-wave.

And it's just too damned big.

I just can't get comfortable with the idea. After all, look at my kid - he's the kid who throws rocks into the river, irritating painters who've driven wayyyy up to a scenic view.
He's the clown that mugs for the camera with his robotic Lego-thing.
And he's the quiet kid, relaxing post-swim with a book while the light falls just so.
He just doesn't need this. His life is full, rich with pleasures and replete with met needs. It's not uncomplicated, I'll grant you - but he doesn't need a magic wand. Nor can does he need a reward for the twisted, edged complexities of his early years - the kid doesn't remember them, and the Man and I flinch at the idea of a door prize.

Congratulations, your kid got knocked around, so he gets this.
Congratulations, you were battered while your kid was sick, so he gets this.

It's unnerving to have the societal powers-that-be offer this as a palliative, whether to their sense of justice or to my own. It's unsettling to have a wand waved to lift the Eldest out of his world, and into a fantastic place where Wishes are granted. Or, perhaps, to argue that he lives in this place, regardless of my stubborn hymns to ordinariness. And it seems ungrateful to be shifting in my seat when the fairy godmother(s) come to call. Or, hell, asking her to produce some ID.

But I am, regardless. I have a wonderful, vibrant son. He is enough, and beyond enough - and replete with our good fortune, the Man and I should gracefully decline the Wish.

But this is not our Wish - it's his. Which might just be why it is going to come true. And it might also be why at some point a mosaic of joy, gratitude and yes, tears, is going to sweep up behind me and smack me on the nose. Because maybe, at heart, my mutterings about not being deserving, not needing or wanting to ameliorate another's sense of guilt/need to act/memory - maybe? Maybe that's all just me, trying to insist that the past stay in the past.

And hoping that this Wish doesn't carry with it too great a burden of memory.

1 comment:

joy said...

Everything, every moment, every fear and delight, every gift and is all so very overcomplicated, overthought, overwrought.

I say this with no sarcasm or edge, just with a sigh: a your problems and my problems are differently complex and things are differently hard, but dangitall, it's just all so very...very.

I hope you can find the space you need to fully enjoy his Wish. I know it would cause me bellyaching as well, were we trading shoes.