Wallflower Road

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I am socially awkward. If it were up to me, everyone would wear a name tag and I would have the option to first write down what I want to say before speaking.

I am terrible at remembering names. To help me remember, my husband suggested that I use the name of a new acquaintance before the end of the conversation. I have tired but I still can’t seem to make the association between names and faces easily. Most of the jobs I have had since high school have required me to build some sort of rapport with clients. I did familiarize myself with the regular clients but my relationships with them rarely reached a personal level. My husband thrives in jobs where he can interact with people. He has had plenty of practice. He spent several years in sales and now holds a management position. I am sure he succeeds socially because he is friendly and he can make conversation easily. I, on the other hand, am terrible at small talk. This makes starting a converstion with a stranger difficult. My husband has made friends with people at the airport, random people standing in line, and anyone who responds to his generous smile. When it comes to social finesse, he and I are opposites. We compliment each other in many other aspects of our relationship, unfortunately it isn’t easy to see.

With two people who seem so different, the head scratching and comments to how he and I manage to work have surfaced. My husband was in his mid-thirties when we married. It seemed like so many people waited for him to find just the right woman, and then he met me…. Maybe it was the anticipation of who he would finally marry but I have felt as if I have fallen short of some great expectations. I was the clock radio instead of the HD television in the big gift box at Christmas or the free cat instead of the designer dog everyone wants. I was the shy girl instead of the perfect compliment to my husband’s outgoing personality.

I can’t say for certain that I am an introvert, but I am close. The world does not respond well to introverts. My point has been gratified while writing this piece. Synonyms for the word introvert is defined as a person who retreats mentally; autist, brooder, egoist, egotist, loner, narcissist, self-observer, wallflower, and solitary. In all fairness the same online dictionary listed show-boat, life of the party, and exhibitionist as a few synonyms for extrovert. When I looked up the word outgoing, a few synonyms listed were kind, easy and approachable. All words I would use to describe my husband. I define myself as somewhat shy so a few words used to describe my personality are as follows; distrustful, backward, and wary. “What the ????” How does one break the mold of the pre-defined? Shy, unlike outgoing, did not have the word kind listed as an acceptable synonym. Maybe I should cause an uproar about this. Just because I am shy, doesn’t mean I am not kind. Who do I write? Who is in charge of defining an acceptable word to describe a personality trait anyway? It certainly isn’t a shy introvert.

A few years ago, I took my oldest to his kindergarten screening. My husband (bless his heart) told me it would be a great opportunity to make friends with other parents who would also be attending the screening. What he didn’t realize was how scary it was for me to sit in a room full of strangers. Thank goodness I had my infant daughter with me. She felt like a shield between myself and a room full of snakes. I held on to her tight. She gave me the excuse I needed to avoid small talk. As hard as he tries, I know my husband doesn’t understand this part of me. Making friends is as natural to him as writing is to me. Texting and messaging are my friends. Unlike talking, I don’t need an immediate response, rather I can take a moment to think before I reply. That day at kindergarten screening was intimidating because I tend to over analyze what I say. I feel like I need more than the appropriate split second between small talk to think about what I want to say. I know I can be aloof with my words and I often stumble over them. Opening myself to someone else feels like I am baring my soul. Once I open up, I feel like I am open for scrutiny. Scrutiny to an over-thinker like me is like picking an open sore. I know my short comings; it’s even harder to hear them aloud.

This blog is a scary step for me. I feel like I am in the dream where I am wearing only underwear in class, except my underwear is bright yellow. It is easier for me to have a bit of anonymity while allowing myself plenty of time to reread my own posts several times before publishing. I know my writing needs some work, but my goal is honesty. I want to break barriers for others who can relate to me. I am shy and possibly an introvert, but I am still kind. I can still be open, honest and given some time, even I can handle small talk. Exposing myself to others is difficult and making new friends sometimes feels more like an experiment rather than a natural part of life. I am that girl other people really don’t know if they want to sit next to at the reception, or ask to carpool , or see on the arm of someone so outward and full of life. No one knows what to say to me and it can appear that I think I am too good to make conversation. It isn’t true. I am just scared and I need time to let my guard down. Be warned, if I let my guard down and I get hurt, it will take a long time to earn my trust again. I ask not to be defined by typical definitions but allow me to define myself.

As for my husband and I, we make it work because despite our outward differences we are a lot alike. We can and do talk about everything and enjoy similar interests.  Most importantly, we work because love is not defined by a book, dictionary, or any other person’s perception of happiness. Love is not defined by words, but how someone makes you feel. My husband could have found that one woman that exceeded the expectations of all those who waited for him to find his perfect match. Everyone could have unanimously agreed in excitement that he had finally found “the one.” It did happen but he had to find that definition on his own. It followed his heart ten years and four children later. I made a difficult journey and he took the long road but we met up at the same crossroad and decided to take the next step together. If we decided to let others define us, we would have missed the realization that we were truly what the other needed.

*d*

It’s About Balance

In life there are many times we can feel as if we love and hate something at the same time. For instance, women can love a pair of shoes while hating how it hurts their feet. I personally love chocolate but hate that I must limit my consumption of it. The same can be said for people like my husband and I who have a special needs child and social media. We love it and hate it. My husband now hates it and has deleted the Facebook app from his phone. I have been known to defend it because of the support groups that have proved to be an invaluable source of information and support. Lately, the negative effects on us have outweighed the positive.

With Facebook and other social media, users sign up to share their lives with other users. If I have learned anything from my high school social experience, it was the never ending drama that goes along with sharing so much personal space with other people. We can hope certain social manners will be followed but that would be silly considering we are “friending” many people we barely consider to be acquaintances. By allowing so many people so close to our personal lives, negative experiences are bound to happen. For us, it has caused disappointments that possibly have my husband finished indefinitely. I am still dipping my toe in the edge. I am involved enough to check in on a few friends but I don’t want to be over involved again.

Over the past seven years since we signed up on Facebook, we have tried to use our manners. We try to avoid arguments, we do not engage in political or religious debates, and we are respectful of the opinions and lives of others. The longer I use Facebook, the more I notice the lack of manners and general respect people have for one another. We have been pulled into fights and insulted. I have had to diffuse situations that blew up on social media for my entire list of friends to see. We tried to play it safe and hoped we didn’t put too much out there, but like most people on social media, we got burned because we assumed our “friends” were friends. Sadly, in some cases we were wrong. Some people just want to read posts to gossip, judge or disapprove of others. It feels like high school all over again. I am sorry but our emotional plate is full and we have had our fill of drama.

Another difficulty I have with social media is the lure to envy. We can all get caught up in it but for us, it can take a pretty hard emotional toll. I realize most people want to use the nicest photo of their family and desire to show off the greatest aspects of their lives but it is hard to stop comparing. Vacation photos are the hardest for us. I know a few couples that snap a picture in front of a great hotel where they celebrate their anniversary every year or families that are full of smiles while enjoying the latest weekend getaway. I keep reminding myself to appreciate what I have and continue to hope things will get easier. I do appreciate everything we are blessed with but it is difficult letting go of certain dreams. I look at those posts and jealousy rears its ugly head. My newsfeed gives me many more opportunities for those feelings to take over and make me feel sad about our life. I truly do want to be happy about my life. I am grateful for the positive changes we have made through difficulty. It is hard trying to continue to make those positive changes while dreaming of some other life.

I think that is what it comes down to for me, I can’t get caught up in some other existence social media provides. It feels like I am balancing two lives. I am working overtime with life one already. I love the continual support that I have found. I enjoy learning more about friends I have made and connecting with old friends but I can’t get so involved that I forget the little people in the same room. So I am choosing to back away for myself and my family.

I love my life in so many ways, but there are aspects I hate. I hate what has been taken from me but I love the compassion for life that has filled that empty space. I hate that I won’t know endless happy outings captured in photographs for the world to see but I love that I can appreciate the happy moments I am given. I love sharing in the lives of others but I hate it when I often feel alone. Just like my rocky relationship with Facebook, I am finding my balance. I have to nourish what truly matters and break it off with those things that bring me down.

*d*

The People of Facebook

We all know one or more of these folks and we’re probably guilty of being a few too. There’s other lists like this out there, but this our take on the community of the social media giant and sucker of productivity.

The Stalker

They claim they’re never on FB but in reality, they’re always watching, checking in on any number of their 3,735 friends. They never comment or like, but they always know about your breakup or new job. These types don’t even have to be your friend to keep tabs on what you’re doing.

Stalking

The Snob

This variety of Stalker is constantly on FB but regularly posts and states that they’re too good for it—all while continuing to browse fellow Facebookers’ pages.

The Delinquent

Their posts are often scandalous and always accentuate their incredibly dysfunctional lives. They’re often spotted in underage drinking pictures and giving peace signs or “gang” signs in bathroom mirror selfies. Can be confused/interchanged with the Partier.

The Partier

Every picture on their profile and those that they are tagged in are drinking pictures. Drinking in someone’s garage. Drinking at the bar. Drinking in the car (Don’t confuse them with The Genius’s). Drinking by themselves.

Little-drunks

The Genius

They give everyone a play-by-play of their lives and often have their profile’s set as public. Because who really understands internet security? They often tell everyone where they are eating or shopping as they arrive, perhaps as an open invitation for friends, relatives, murderers, robbers, etc. to join them. These people are also likely to board a plane for an exotic vacation and publically announce that their house is unattended and will be for several days.

Social Cockroach

Unlike the easy-going, likeable Social Butterfly, the SC is going to be your friend whether you like it or not. It’s as though they have a quota to reach or they’re in a competition with someone over the number of “friends” they have. Delete them after a year of not interacting? Who’s that friend request from? That’s right. Somehow, they knew you disappeared from their growing friends list and they’re trying to put a stop to your escape. Just like cockroaches, their insecurities existed before you were friends, and they’ll exist long after you’re not.

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The Unfiltered

Nothing’s a secret. Their feelings. Their opinions. Their test results. Their latest trip to the bathroom.

Selfie Whore

These compliment fishers use their faces as bait. They’re likely to have 5000 photos in multiple untitled albums of their mug in slightly different positions. From a pouty duckface to a “sexy” smile, they can be counted on to give you enough images of their face to put together a flip-book where it looks they’re frowning, making a peace sign, then smiling and back again.

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The Police

These users logon and openly judge everyone else. They, of course, are infallible.

The AssHat

This person can find something nasty and scathing to say about everything. It’s as though someone ruined their FB experience at some point and they feel it is their mission to ruin it for everyone else.

Like Lover

It doesn’t matter if you’re posting that you just passed The Bar Exam or that your dog died, the LL is on that like button faster than their newsfeed can reload. They think they’re being supportive, but really they just come off as easily impressed and a little insensitive. Come on. Who “likes” a sad post about a deceased pet? It’s possible that the Like Lover is just too lazy to comment on things and clicking “like” is the easier method of informing everyone that something has their approval.

Enabler

Do you have a new boyfriend every week but know it’s not you, it’s definitely him? Do you post redundant, out of focus, filtered selfies every few hours in groups of no less than 30 pictures? Do you have a drinking problem that everyone knows about and still post about your wild weekend and how you’ll do better to stay sober next weekend? Well, the Enabler probably just liked every last one of your posts.

The Gullible

They think that sharing a post can somehow generate money for a small, ill child in a picture (who is probably in their 20’s by now) or that they will win prizes for sharing statuses of shopping websites. They often induce panic amongst the other Gullibles with their posts of false news stories. No research is ever done before a link is shared as gospel because if it’s on the internet, it has to be true. The Onion wouldn’t make things up.

The Baby

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These individuals post endlessly about how bad life is treating them as any given moment. You can almost envision their faces turning red as they stamp their feet during a rant about how bad they have it. They appear to believe that if they whine and cry they will get attention, like a bawling infant. This belief is often solidified by the Like Lovers and Enablers that shower their self-centered posts with kudos and comfort.

Awfully Ambiguous

They can’t come right out and say what’s going on because that might make them sound like a Baby or The Unfiltered. They require that people ask them about the super vague details of their posts before divulging everything, and then some, in the comments. Another favorite move is to alienate 99% of their FB friends by telling a specific commenter/ Enabling friend to send them a private message for the details.

Hypochondriac

Willing to share the most personal details about their health and bodies, the Hypochondriac might actually be sick, or they might be turning a pimple into a cyst with their frantic, often too detailed posts. They think they’re doing you a courtesy by involving you in the agony of their kidney stones or the mystery of their strange rash. The most considerate will accompany their description with a picture.

The Liar

This person likes to say or share things that might not necessarily be true. When called out on their falsehoods, they often recant and delete the statements in question. Unfortunately for them, they don’t understand screenshots, copying and pasting, or that there’s no take backs on the internet.

The Perfectionist

Every picture and status update shows a perfect existence. Perfect house, car, family, kids. They’d never allow a tagged picture of themselves with no makeup or without their hair done. They’re masquerading Liars.

The Zealot

They carry their beliefs to extremes and have no room in their self-proclaimed open-minds for anyone else’s opinion. They openly post their opinions on politics, religion, society, justice, etc. Like a wolf taking a deer down by the throat, they attack anyone whose opinion is not their own. After a while, the ranting style of their posts becomes too much for most of their friends and Zealots are often deleted, unfollowed, or just scrolled past.

The Paranoid

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Every post is about them. They just know it. The arch nemesis of a Paranoid is the Awfully Ambiguous.

The Nose

Being overly interested in what everyone else is doing, these types will look at the public info on your page, even if you’re not friends. They’re the first to ask, “What happened?” to someone asking for prayers for her grandma. If you change your relationship status from “in a relationship” to “single,” you can bet that they will be the first to comment, usually asking you to private message them.

Game Nazi

Facebook game requests

They’re on the fast track to being deleted by sending endless game requests. It seems like they play every game on FB and assume that all their friends do too. They blindly click the windows that pop up in these “Share” your score, level achievement, game win, “Invite you friends” games. They could just hit cancel when prompted to send these requests, but that would require them to read the dialog box and there’s not time for that when they need to get back to playing.

Poker

WTF is the point? Just knock it off already.

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~L~ and *d*

The Withering Deed

If there was fine print on a marriage certificate, it should clearly state some of the changes that will eventually occur. One of these changes is the reduction of sex within a relationship. The time frame in which this happens varies by couple but most honest couples who are in long-term relationships will say it has happened. We collaborated and made a list of things that replace sex in a relationship and other things that can deter the deed.

Bad breath
The nights when the garlic toast is still lingering are the best nights to turn back-to-back and just call it a day.

Lethargy
Having kids can feel like two full time jobs. There will be plenty of times when plans are foiled by unintended sleep.

The wedge (or child) between us
This explains itself.

A favorite show
Everyone needs an escape from reality, unless it is reality television, then you are better off just having sex.

Mommy mode
There has to be a gear between mom and wife, it is hard to make the shift.
“Maybe it’s the hair matted with cheerios talking, but I’m not feeling too hot right now.”

Pajamas from yesterday
Don’t bother trying to take these off. They are probably dirty as well as what is underneath. If there was no time for a wardrobe change, there isn’t time for anything else.

The need to relax
There are several steps between before and after that make it look like more work than it’s worth.

Kids??? More kids??
Not sure? Better not. Sleep is safer..

No one can ask me questions when I am sleeping. (I just threw that one in there. I am tied of everyone asking me questions.)

I could still dream of sex
This is the only win win.

Sleep
Sleep is instant gratification.
No need for foreplay here..
Speaking of foreplay…..
Why bother? If this takes too long, it may be the only thing that gets done.

Work tomorrow
Damn responsibilities!

Grandma panties
Comfort over sexy occurs over thirty.

Headaches
No, really, I have a headache.

Clean sheets
“I just washed those and I am not washing them again tomorrow.”

Laziness
If it requires leaving the bed, it isn’t happening.

Eating
One doesn’t feel so sexy when stuffed full of tasty goodness.

Alcohol
Either the beer goggles were needed or alcohol isn’t a good idea later in life.

Social Media
Spending useless time stalking people you don’t like seems like a better idea. (We don’t know why either.)

Being Sore
Once you’re over 30, stuff that never used to ache starts and being in denial about not being as young as you used to be can equate to some sore muscles. That makes for groaning in the bedroom, but definitely not in a fun way.

Its too late
I knew I was getting older when I gave sex a curfew.

Lets hope we can all find quality time with our partners but when we don’t, have a laugh about it. If not, it will just seem sad.

It's a lie. That snooze button will get more action than either of you.
It’s a lie. That snooze button will get more action than either of you.

~L~ and *d*

Harping On My Fellow Drivers

(And why I don’t look like the cute pink guy shooting eggs from Super Mario 2.)

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Yep, I’m that angry guy.

We moved to a new school district a year and a half ago. I like the school. It has an excellent rating, the staff is friendly, and the community is involved in school activities. I have no doubt my children will be getting a great education. There is one problem…… the drop-off and pick-up area is a disaster. The school is new and situated a distance from the road. There is a single drive to the building. During pick-up and drop-off, there is always a line of vehicles down the drive.  The drive goes up to the school, takes a left turn and runs along the front of the school. To leave, another left is made to the adjacent parking lot and back out to the drive. This would be a great idea if most drivers had common sense.

At the beginning of the year a newsletter comes out and a portion of it explains the procedure for picking up and dropping off students. The same speech is also given at the PTO meeting prior to the first day of school. Vehicles are to pull up as far as possible to allow cars behind them the opportunity to also pull up. This would make the process more efficient. There is an extensive sidewalk along the entire front of the school. The idea is for children to utilize the sidewalk so multiple cars can be loading or unloading at the same time. This never happens. In the morning, every other car stops directly in front of the front door so their children won’t have to walk. There is ample room to pull up beyond the front doors but people must think it may cause harm to ask students to walk a small distance to the door. If I have the opportunity to pull forward, I do it hoping others will follow. That never works.  In the afternoon, the kids find their way to the waiting cars and that sometimes speeds up the process. The problem in the afternoon is the one car that parks in the loading area. They also refuse to pull forward and this causes problems. Other drivers are unaware that the vehicle in front of them will not be moving and after waiting, they put their car in reverse so they can leave and allow others to pull forward. With kids walking around the loading area, this is concerning. Bad weather makes all of this worse. Last year I had to call the school and explain why my son was tardy. It was a rainy day and because of the increased traffic, it took twenty minutes to reach the front door. I learned to leave my house no later than twenty five minutes before school starts and I live in town.

It have learned to tolerate this disfunctional process but today, I couldn’t take it anymore. At pick-up one woman decided to park three cars in front of me. There were several cars waiting behind me. The line was not moving. When one of the two cars in front of me put their car in reverse,  I knew it was another parked car causing the slow down. I pulled up behind the parked car. My son came and got in my vehicle. On the way out, I rolled down my window and told her she may want to rethink parking where she had because it was hard to get around her. I also pointed out that there were several cars waiting behind her to pick up children. The woman looked shocked. I didn’t yell and I wasn’t angry,  I clearly told her what others may have been afraid to say, or at least pointed out what her common sense didn’t. I passed her and saw the superintendent in front of the building. He knows me and he knows what I drive because of the special circumstances with my special needs child. I guess he will know who to contact if he gets a complaint.

I immediately felt remorse as I knew the kids arguing in the car and the stress of my day probably pushed me over the edge and prompted me to say something. I realized I had not considered her circumstances. She was smoking and seemed to be casually waiting but I shouldn’t have assumed anything. This sums up my life. I believe I have a great deal of tolerance for many things. When I have finally had my fill of some sort of injustice, I speak up and fill with regret. I worry if I hurt someone’s feelings and it really upsets me to think I could have made someone cry. I admit that I am a bit intolerant of other drivers and I have liberally used my horn to vent my frustrations. I recently aired my grievances when another driver became impatient and narrowly squeezed between my vehicle and a mail truck. In those moments, I don’t feel as bad but I still worry. After watching drivers for over a year use very little common sense when negotiating an area full of cars and children, I had reached my boiling point. I now know that I must keep my frustrations under control in the future before I earn myself a reputation for being the crazy parent who yells at other parents from my vehicle.

I imagine everyone has their weaknesses. I am pretty sure mine is not other drivers as much as the notion of people who do not consider anyone but themselves. Maybe that is why today bothered me and why it bothers me every time I speak up, I don’t want to turn into one of those people. To make up for it, my husband suggested I do something kind for someone else. I think the world would be a much better place if we all spread a little kindness first. I think I will need a lot of practice spreading that kindness behind the wheel. I am sure other drivers will continue to give me plenty of opportunities to practice restraint.

*d*

It’s Parenting Time!

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Here are a few steps that will prepare you for parenthood. Good luck!

Every time you are headed to the bathroom, make a phone call. Draw out the conversation as long as possible, preferably until the urge has passed.

When you finally make it to the bathroom, set a timer for one minute and make sure you are finished within that minute. (Kids apparently think the world will end if you are in the bathroom any longer.)

After every visit to the restroom, open the door to wipe and flush. As hard as you try, modesty doesn’t last long after the children figure out how to open the door.

Before taking a shower, throw in a few Legos. This exercise will help your feet callous properly before they end up anywhere under foot. It will also prepare you for the toys that will eventually end up in the bathtub.

Much like bathroom time, dinner will also become a blood sport. Learn to eat as much as you can in the shortest amount of time possible. Better still, eat the food cold.

After eating a meal, throw half of what remains directly on the floor or in the trash. Before kids figure out how to eat, the food gets on the floor more than their mouth and once they perfect this, they won’t want to eat.

When changing to a new outfit, find a way to make it dirty. Get used to the idea of food, snot or worse hiding somewhere on your clothes.

When the phone rings, turn up the television or radio louder than necessary. A ringing phone somehow also doubles as the volume on children. Once the phone rings, the volume goes up.

Perfect inefficient multitasking. Parenting demands multitasking but unfortunately, it’s almost impossible. Start practicing now by putting the milk in the cupboard or throw some dirty dishes in the freshly run dishwasher. Yes, these things happen.

Learn to have alone time quickly and be sneaky about it. Try opening the blinds and turn the light on during the deed. If you can perfect this, you may find a couple minutes for each other once you have kids.

Spend a few hours every night talking to a wall. There will be a time when you will wonder if the walls listen better than the kids.

Set your alarm for 3 a.m. every night. Spend the next hour wishing you were asleep. Get used to it as soon as possible. “Psst, you never will.”

Brush up on your math. Kids multiply everything by ten. You will need to be able to translate. They also have no concept of time. Everything will take forever.

Parenting is hard work but so rewarding. Make sure you find time to laugh!

*d*

Knee High in a Rant

Sometimes when I have a difficult day  I imagine sitting in front of a tall window dressed in sheer covering. The sun is amber and the wind is trickling in the crack of the window to disturb the sheer. I imagine the blue sky beyond and feel the warm breeze rise up my feet. It pulls at me and dares me to chase. I could run barefoot until I could run no longer. I would then lay back and watch the clouds float further than I could ever go. It would be quiet, it would be peace.

I love nature but find it hard to leave the comfort of my house. It has been hard to handle all my children outside the home with my special needs son. I never know when and what may set him off so it is less anxious for us both to remain here. I save my dreams for days when I have helping hands. There are also dreams I may never fulfill. These dreams are simple but it feels like they were taken from us by a thief. Taken by a greedy disease with it’s fear and unpredictability. I want a life back and it will never happen. I can try to be optimistic, but it won’t change the facts. I grieved for the life my son will never have and now I grieve for the life we have left behind. It sounds selfish but it’s true. Disease has a grieving process very similar to death. Maybe I have yet to reach acceptance.

This window I dream about is something I have been escaping to since I was a child. I had found that I had the ability to escape in my mind when my body could not. I hope my son can figure out how to do the same. I hope he can find a place far from his sometimes sad reality. He will never know a day without medicine. He may never understand why he must live with this burden and I may never be able to explain it to him. He just doesn’t understand but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t struggle because I assure you he does. That is a hard pill to swallow, even for a faithful person. He has purpose and meaning. His life has already made differences, although he may never know.

For all he is, it makes my heart hurt to know that I cannot provide him all that he deserves. I can’t provide him a beautiful day in the park if his disease won’t allow me the ability to help him enjoy it. I am angry that so much has been taken from all of us. I have lost my identity in this disease right along with him. I didn’t want it to take over my life, it just happened. I have to think about it every day. I think about it the four times a day he gets his medicine. I think about it every time he gets on a bus and isn’t able to attend school with the peers in our hometown. I will think about it every time a school milestone occurs and he won’t be asked to participate. Sadly I can’t carry this for him. I can only grab his hand and help him along and when it’s really bad, I can carry him.  Mostly, I wish I could take it away.

I feel removed from this life in a lot ways so please excuse me when I seem put off by the problems I wish I had and forgive me if I can’t be more sympathetic. I am busy staring out my window. My mind is too busy running out the window and toward the sun and imagining a normal existence.

*d*