Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The potency of loneliness

 We all feel lonely. I don't think anyone is ever untouched by it. 

I've been doing my own observational study on the idea, the reality, the very life of loneliness. I see people all around me - some with lives full of activities and people, some with quiet, almost isolated lives, some with lives marked by chaos, some in large cities, some in the middle of nowhere. There is no dominant feature that orchestrates loneliness in a human being. 

I met a solo hiker going down the Grand Canyon - he was alone, but I don't' think he was lonely. He engaged with several hikers along the way and he had such a merry heart. He was so filled with joy and his revelry in the beauty of that place was infectious. 

I see Lochlan, surrounded by a family, a band of bros, who love him and build into him almost every moment of every day. Yet, I know he is lonely, locked inside himself. I think it contributes to his almost constant frustration. If I could set him free... 

I see the loneliness inside of a marriage - two people who live alongside one another but in very separate lives. Even if the two are united in purpose, in ideas, in the daily workings of what makes life happen, they can still find themselves with a sense of aloneness. 

I see loneliness in the single life. Even with resolute and genuine contentment with one's "station in life" there can be the dull ache of being alone in all the important or minuscule ways. 

Sometimes I feel alone because trying to find answers for my child is such a seemingly endless road. When no clear answers can be found, day after day, month after month, year after year, I start to feel like I'm walking on the road of darkness and mystery by myself with no definitive end. 

We look at loneliness as a bad thing - and it can be, for sure; it's probably not a state in which we should any of us persist indefinitely. Yet, I also see how loneliness can play it's part in shaping whom we become. It can build into us appreciation, awareness, kindness, compassion and even a brokenness that can lead us to the right kind of strength. It can give us eyes to see.

It is through my own loneliness in all the various seasons of this life that I have come to understand that I am not ever truly alone. Like my imperfect tree with the lightning strike scar running down the side, I have to face the incoming storms; yet, if I look around, I am not alone. 

Monday, April 22, 2024

I'm chuckin' my peanuts and hoping for the best

Golly, this life. 
How. Are. We. Supposed. To. Do. It? 

With the encouragement of Lochlan's therapists, we decided to take a road trip to see Auntie Susan and Uncle Barry in Nashville. It is impossible for me to summarize the challenges we are facing right now with Lochlan. It is the most challenging time of his life, aside from the 11 months when he threw his feces. If I could describe it in one word, it would be: destruction. It is the destruction of everything; absolutely everything is fair game. It's a live game for all the waking hours of day and night. There is little to no reprieve and adrenaline is my constant companion. I've lost so many things I once cared about and if living in a one room house hasn't trained me to hold material things loosely, this season has. The behavior has been accompanied by copious hours of raging/screaming which takes a toll on our already frayed nerves. It has left none of us untouched, and watching the other boys battle against the repercussions has been the hardest part for me. I wish I could protect them and shield them and usher in the peace in life that I know they would benefit from. My own limitations make me angry, sad, exasperated. So... in all of this, we are trying anything and everything we can to change his current trajectory and give him a new line of sight. Hence, the spontaneous road trip. 

 Susan and I haven't seen one another for over 5 years and an entire lifetime has been lived in the interim. We have both come to know suffering as well as a strength that is not our own, and we have both faced the impossible, but we have been forced to do it apart from one another. During our 7 years in Nashville, Susan became to me more than the best kind of friend; she became a kindred spirit, a sister, a mentor and the person I have grown to lean on in all the ways. Watching her suffer from such a vast distance has been utterly excruciating. Being with her for all too short a time was life-giving. She and Barry were incredibly gracious about the almost non-stop antics of Lochlan and they gave us peace in the midst of insanity. They filled us with joy in our weariness and they reminded us why life is so much better when it is shared, through the trials and through the best of times. 

On our return trip, we dropped down to Austin for a couple days. It was so good to have a little time to spend there, even if it was all-too-brief and all-too-stressful. I was unable to see basically everybody because I could not leave the house with Lochlan. I keep telling myself that this season will end - someday - and I will have a life again. Right??? So, to all of you whom I wasn't able to see, I love you, miss you and hope you can come see me. :-) 

Sleep has mostly alluded me for the past many weeks. I've had a couple of really good nights which have gone far to revive me. One night, I texted Krista at 2:09. 

I went to bed at 10:30
11:00 Paisley had diarrhea 
11:35 Lochlan started laughing
12:10 Lochlan, still laughing, chucked a hard suitcase over the 3/4 walls... scared the absolute daylights out of me
12:45 Lochlan finally asleep
1:00 Kelton came out to try to crawl into bed next to me because he had a nightmare 
1:30 Kelton came back out to try to crawl into bed because Madigan was snoring
2:00 Paisley threw up again. 
2:07 Winston had diarrhea
It's now 2:08. Winston and Paisley are outside where they can't stay because they'll bark and wake up the neighbors. We will be up at 4:00 as Kris is about to head to the airport for a week in Boston. 

Lochlan woke up at 5:00. 

We had few noteworthy casualties on the actual driving part of our journey except for Lochlan's Yeti cup which he chucked out the window when we had rolled it down to let in some fresh air following a particularly horrible fart. We lost the left shoe from his #1 pair as it was tossed violently into a waterfall and we lost the right shoe from his #2 pair as it went airborne into a lake. At one point while Krista and I were running errands, Lochlan chucked an entire container of peanuts at the windshield spilling peanuts into the ventilation system and all over the dash. A little later when I decided to grab a coffee, Lochlan was highly put out that I didn't treat him accordingly. So, I start singing random ditties like: 

"I'm chuckin' my peanuts, 
Waitin' on my coffee, 
Mom is makin' the cuts
And it's no cup o' Joe for me." 

I sang such themed ditties for over 30 minutes and his face went from seething irritation to a mild smirk. I even heard him giggle at a few. His grasp of language is so encouraging! And yes... I was probably on the edge of something less-than-sanity, but alas. 

And, in summary, while we were traveling, we stopped at a Costco for dinner one evening. We were pretty travel weary, so I had the boys exit the car and go to the potty while I ordered. I waited for them outside the bathroom, where an employee was changing out the trash bag on the trashcan. As they came waltzing out, Declan had Lochlan in tow, Lochlan walked right next to the employee, leaned over as quick as lightning and gave the man a hearty lick behind the ear. The guy turned around and Declan said, "Sorry about that!" The guy said, "Nah man, that's cool." I was instantly doubled over laughing. As we quickly exited, I said, "I'm sorry, he's autistic." Again, "Oh, it's cool." Bet you haven't been licked today... behind your ear... by a random stranger. 😜

Now, we must carry on. Take the next step. And so we shall.