I am procrastinating —one of my favorite and most accomplished pastimes. My head is swimming with non-IEP details and paranoia about tomorrow’s meeting. Niksdad didn’t help last night when he started getting snippy about the school nurse, Nurse J, and whether she was going to challenge every last little thing we bring to the table. Probably. But I’m not going there just now, thank you. Instead, I’ve been perusing all my bookmarked blogger friends and discovering some new ones, too. Hmmm, that reminds me that I really need to update my links on my page to reflect ALL the wonderful blogs I read, not just the first ones which drew me into this fabulous world.
I’ve been thinking a lot this morning about the future and about friends —again. I’ve written about some friends here and here, but today I have different one on my mind. Possibly my dearest friend in the entire world, C. First some background —C, Calvin, and I all lived together in our “salad days” in Boston many years ago. Well, actually, it was in Melrose and we really didn’t eat much salad. Lots of macaroni and cheese and iced coffee as I recall. Anyway, we were thick as thieves but different as night from day; there was a deep bond and nearly psychic connection between us but our paths in life were vastly divergent.
C was the former-beauty-queen-turned-banker (really, she participated in pageants in her home state as a teen. And she is still beautiful.), Calvin the spitfire, gamine with a quick wit and talent for writing (especially plays for stage and screen; she had a tremendous knack for storytelling and great dialogue). I was the musician who wanted to be an educator. Somehow, life took us in directions we never quite envisioned and we went our separate ways to marriages, new jobs, and new efforts to reinvent ourselves.
C and I have always been close. Our birthdays fall in close proximity, our mothers shared the same birthday (though her wonderful mother passed away some years ago now), C and her husband, Doc, even share the same anniversary as my parents. Their son shares my husband’s birthday. C even had a child with special needs; Angelic little N had a very rare genetic anomaly which proved to be fatal and she died at the age of 18 months after a very valiant fight. The experience brought dear C to her knees. Remarkably, she found the grace and strength to keep moving and living. I admire her so much; I’m not even sure she knows it.
It has been many years since C’s angel passed away but she is with me constantly. I sometimes talk to Nik in the quiet of evening and name the angels I believe are watching over him; N is always one of them.
I haven’t seen C in a while but she and Doc came to town yesterday —passing through on their way home from a conference in Maine. They could have flown home to VA but it was important enough to them that they get to see us that they rented a car and drove down and spent the night in town. Doc has never met Nik as he was on a National Guard assignment the year we had Nik’s second birthday party and C came alone. Yesterday was special for all of us.
C is still a financial whiz and very successful; Doc is (duh!) a doctor and also very successful. They have a nearly idyllic life with their handsome son (who is now turning into a “tween” heart breaker, I hear!), their large home on many acres in the countryside, family vacations, summer camp, etc. One could say they are living a “charmed” life —depending on your perspective, I suppose. They live each day with the memory of their beautiful daughter and the terrible loss. They use it to fuel them to doing good things for not only themselves but for others. They are wonderful people and I love them dearly.
We had dinner with C and Doc last night; Nik was asleep and my mother came to babysit. It was a beautiful evening with good food, wine, and conversation with intelligent, funny, caring adults who understand what our lives are like in every possible way. The joy and fear, the grief and pain, the hope, the stress, the sleepless nights, the strain on relationships —warts and all.
I’m tap dancing around what I want to say because it’s raw and overwhelming and it’s been on my mind for so long. Deep breath…
Last night we asked them to be Nik’s guardians should something happen to us. It was emotional and scary and so uncomfortable. I mean, who are we to ask them to take on the burden of a child who may need support and services for the rest of his life? A child who has significant medical needs and may spend more time in the hospital where their angel fought so valiantly. How could I ask them to risk the pain of loving and losing another child? For I have no doubt whatsoever that Nik would be utterly loved by them and by their son, D.
Granted, it’s not like we are planning on handing Nik over and saying “Here you go, please raise our son for us!” Of course not; we’re talking in case of catastrophic events here. None the less, it felt strange.
I told C that the reason we wanted them to consider this is that we felt that they would not only be able to care for Nik financially (well, one does need to be practical here), but that they would try to instill in Nik a strong sense of ethics and the value of working hard for one’s rewards. They have what I would call relatively mainstream family values and place a high premium on intellect and creativity. I don’t’ mean book-learning, but one’s innate intellect; I think they would value Nik for exactly who he is without trying to make him fit an ideal of who he “should” be. And they would do it all joyfully and without an ounce of pity for “poor Nikolas.” I’m not sure I can say that about many other people I know.
C and Doc obviously need to think about it and talk it over; it is, after all, a tremendous responsibility. I hope they can find their way to “yes.” I simply cannot see Nik being raised by either of my sisters, nor by Niksdad’s sister. I won’t go into the reasons here but will say that I don’t think any of them would put Nik’s best interests first if push came to shove and they had to choose between Nik and themselves. I think C and Doc could, would do that; they’ve already proven it with their own children.
Kristina recently wrote about doing “the right thing” and planning for our children’s futures. It is something that no parent ever really wants to have to think about yet it is crucial. Like my son’s IEP is the foundation of his educational future —and his education is the foundation for his future life —I must plan for the eventuality of his living life without myself or Niksdad in the picture. If that day should come sooner than anyone anticipates, I will feel like I have done my utmost to assure that his future is as bright, as rich, and as full of promise as it can possibly be.