I tried to write the letter this morning as carefully as possible. It feels awkward and uncomfortable, even if necessary. Many of the folks at TDC, and especially the Executive Director, have worked with us for 7 months in ways I appreciate. And yet, the final, undeniable reality is that we simply do not trust that our daughter, so vulnerable as it is, has or will receive the care she needs. It is hard to say to a very nice person, “this isn’t working.” It is hard to mediate that reality to the state agency folks who then have to approve a transfer for Maria, without just blasting TDC out of the water, or, on the other hand, not laying out clearly all the issues that brought us to this point. I think I’ve done the best I could and I will need to live with the remainder. As soon as we are able to finalize the paperwork, Maria is returning to live at BARC in Fort Lauderdale.
We’ve agonized over this decision. It’s been so hard to consider we’d have to live with even more geographic distance between ourselves and our daughter. Fort Lauderdale is a part of Sherod’s and my past, not our future. If it were up to me, and meaning no offense to the good people we served and knew there, I would never, ever again set foot in Southeast Florida if given a choice. Some changes are just healthier managed that way. But BARC is a truly remarkable ICF, Maria is joyful at the prospect of being back there. I remain convinced it was the first place our daughter ever felt truly safe–safe in a way she could not feel even with us. She lacked the verbal skills to express the cost of leaving such safety but it is writ large in the language of despair spelled out by the scars of her self-injury all up and down her arms. She will carry those scars the rest of her days.
We are working out a plan for her to have regular visits with us here at the farm and allowing ourselves to let faith and hope carry us through all the fears. We are also allowing our new life to speak its truth. Today, Sherod and I spent over three hours doing yard work, none of it fancy or special, and all of it so wonderfully satisfying and energizing. After a week of grey days followed by a bitter cold snap, the sun was out and we worked hard enough to break into that light sweat that means you don’t have to wear so many layers, even if it is still in the 40’s and very low 50’s outside.
Turns out that the small wagon we can hitch up to the tractor makes the tractor into a little dump truck. Today, we spent time moving the pine straw closer to where we will use it on our flower beds. My job was to take off the wagon’s tailgate, operate the lever that tilts the bed of the wagon and give the Mallowman the signal when it was time for him to carefully move the tractor forward so the rest of the load could slip down and out on the ground.
When we were children, my older brother Hans very occasionally allowed me to play with his Tonka dump truck. This is waaaayyyyy more fun. Early this morning I also ordered the seeds for our garden and as we worked, we saw how some of our bushes and trees are beginning to show hints of budding. In 2014, the last freeze date was March 1. That means we are somewhere less than 2 months away from those early days of spring.
There will be more grief to find our way through. But maybe not so much as at other points in this journey. And now, at least, there is a life that is bigger and broader and filled with fun along with the sorrow of the moment. For that too, I am grateful beyond words…