My work for the trip is done; I fly back home tomorrow. There’s some real sadness to sort through. What Maria and those around her experienced was more than a melt-down. The description I heard of the hours of rage is horrific and still written in black and blue on the people who cared for her. There is general consensus that what we’re dealing with is more about psychiatric than behavioral issues. Maria has an excellent psychiatrist and sometime soon we will begin the process, always involving trial and error, to see if there are meds that can help avoid another incident like this.
I was pleased and grateful to work with a competent, transparent and helpful person at the hospital, a person more interested in collaboration than confrontation or obfuscation like we ran into in past. I am much more confident that Maria will not fall through the institutional cracks like she did 7 years ago. Though one of the people I met and worked with today is dealing with an enormous personal loss and everyone is still getting past the fright and preparations and stand down from Hurricane Matthew, I was on the receiving end of compassion and wisdom.
As I make my way back home, I have work to do that is both old and eternally unexpected: that somewhat ashamed, somewhat annoyed sense that I thought I had this one!
All along, the work of loving Maria has been about letting go of my preconceived notions of what it means to parent her. I have become fierce in advocacy—sometimes too fierce—relieved that if nothing else, I could make sure she was getting the best care and support possible, no matter the circumstances or situation. As long as there is breath in my body and my mind is intact, I will have some of that work to do. What my magical thinking has to make space for, though, is the mystery of abiding with systems and institutions in the places of not knowing. Of not having clear answers of what to do—not because the system is indifferent or incompetent or dysfunctional, but because what we have known how to do has limits and now, new exploration and effort are needed to keep moving forward.
I will go back home, not certain when Maria will be discharged, because her attending psychiatrist in the hospital is Jewish and we are entering the High Holy Days of the Jewish faith. That has an impact on when she is discharged and I feel far less indignant than I would have before—my daughter fits into a larger community. Though she has almost insatiable needs, others have needs and lives too. In a similar way, the deeply puzzling, barely understood, intersection of body/mind/pharmaceuticals, requires patience and perseverance. Nothing will change quickly.
A big part of my magical thinking also includes projecting out, making plans, dreaming dreams. We are back to the gift of today: the decisions that can and are made today. Today, I was also able to sit and drink my coffee looking out at the Atlantic as the sun came up, thanks to the enormous generosity of our friends Frank and Roberta who allowed me to stay in their lovely condo. Today, I was a bit stronger because my friends Carol and Pete fed me dinner last night and sent me home after tight hugs. Today, what I had feared would be a fight with the hospital turned out to be a productive problem-solving and coordinating session. I’ll eat dinner with my other cherished friends, Bob and Liz tonight. And earlier this afternoon, Sherod and I got on the phone together and talked briefly to our girl. She is not doing so well and—it’s always and—I got to tell her I love her and heard her say the same to me. All of that makes this a good day. Actually, a very good day.