I know Hartsfield so well I could probably find my way in the dark. The best way to describe what I feel when I am here is resignation, although today there was an unexpected delight. I make a point of not riding the train between terminals and instead, use the walkways that run parallel to the train route, between terminals. There’s usually a nice exhibit somewhere along the way and between terminals B and C, an interesting timeline with pictures of Atlanta’s history. Today, between A and B, there’s a new installation—quite lovely lighting, a ‘canopy of leaves’ hanging from, and covering the ceiling, piped nature sounds (birds, rustle of the breeze). It made me smile; I needed that.
This is what it means to be my daughter’s mother today. I go to Fort Lauderdale and know I won’t get to see her. I can’t. To do so would be to reinforce that melt-downs like she had on Wednesday not only lead to hospitalizations, but also bring mama running. It is quite brutal to make that decision. We have spoken briefly this weekend and everything in me wants to go through the phone and scoop up my peep. That is not how I can best love her, though.
Instead, I am headed down to sort out a mess created by the hospital where she was Baker Acted. They claim not to have received critical paperwork about our guardianship. A series of emails and calls yesterday convinced Sherod and me that this hospital, part of the HCA system, is as insidiously dysfunctional and incompetent as it was 7 years ago when we had our first encounters with them. Today, I am being given the run-around. Past performance is the best predictor of future performance so I know I have hours and hours of pushing hard to get minimal progress with them. I want to jump out of my skin. The most angry, confrontational parts of me get called out and those too, have to be tempered and tamped down. The goal is not to win. The goal is simply to do what I can to get my daughter out of that place as quickly as safe for her.
There is one more important piece of work. The staff and leadership of ARC/BARC have been consistently generous, professional, and deeply caring of our daughter. Working through a crisis like this is difficult, it places lots of strain on the relationships that are not just critical for our girl, but are relationships I value deeply. Together, face to face, we will try to put the best discharge plan possible in place to do all we can to reduce the risk that Maria ends up needing to be Baker Acted any time soon. There are no guarantees—but there is the reassurance that the combination of care and competence makes an incredible difference.
Yesterday, I baptized five little children of Mexican descent at the Ascension. They are not my daughter, but those beautiful faces, looking up at me all bright-eyed as I said those deeply powerful words, “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever” reminded me of María. The wells of life and love in her and offered to me through her, run deep. It isn’t “my daughter”, or this “special needs young woman”, or “a patient at the Pavilion,” I am trying to love without seeing or holding. It is a bright-eyed, bushy tailed, incredibly beautiful Luz Maria, of flesh and bone, and heart and spirit who makes the hardship seem nothing in comparison to love.