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Brave

March 10, 2013

20130311-093241.jpgMy Garden, just this morning.

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. ~Anne Bradstreet


“When is the new baby coming?”
“She will be here in the spring. When the flowers start to grow in the garden again, your new sister will come.”
~ repeated conversation between Troy and Me awaiting the birth of his sister Joyce, six years ago.

She skips into the room, tossing her head back and forth, side to side over her shoulders, the curls left by her braids bouncing with each step.

She’s had a rocky start to her year, but with an enormous assist by a village of supportive friends, teachers, and therapists, she is finding her way back to us. The excited flapping has finally returned – oh, how I had missed it. That lightness in her toe walking has returned, and her smile is back.

She is talking to me again. Not just the long, drawn out monologues, but some real kindergarten style conversations. Sure, in comparison to her peers, many of the deficits remain, but the excitement is returning, along with the bounce in her step. Spring is taking hold in our house, and here it means so much more than just flowers in the garden. It is light and warmth. It is a much needed breath of air.

And today is her birthday. Today my precious Princess Joyce is six years old. She couldn’t be more excited about her upcoming birthday party. Her friends will come. They will dress up as princesses or whatever they choose. They will make ice cream sundaes and eat cake. They will play together in the back yard, and my Princess will be center of the Universe for that day, just as she is today.

The winter was hard. It was filled with missteps and regressions. The darkness, the cold, the post-holiday letdown. It all combines to create doldrums of despair and depression in the house. Joyce wanted nothing to do with life. She wanted so much to stay in her bed each day, safe under the covers, lost in her fantasy world of Disney movies. We pulled her out of activities she had been excited about, because she just couldn’t handle the sensory overload. She was tired. She was sad. She was sliding backwards into an abyss of isolation. So friends stepped in. They came in all forms. The online friends supporting her mom, the advocacy friends helping secure a little more support for her from the therapists. The therapists themselves who have become so much like family, moving in with exciting games and rewards and new activities to lighten the long dark days. The ones who have gone far beyond their official duties, and have shown her compassion and encouragement and love. The understanding teachers who along with being simply amazing to her in the classroom, also quietly acknowledged and understood the fact that she was just too damned tired to do that extra homework at the end of a long day of trying to fit in at school. The basketball coaches and moms who kept watch while she pranced about the gym during her brother’s practices and games, giving her a small taste of independence all while making sure she never disappeared. The big brother of one of her friends going out of his way to make her smile at those same practices – even when she was less than kind to him in return. (And now she has informed me that she plans on marrying him!) When I think of all of the outstretched hands of support that have guided my girl through these last few months, my breath catches in my throat. We have no family close by, so it would be easy for us to become completely lost in this abyss, except for the amazing community of support that has gathered around us. School friends, neighbors, teachers, therapists, online friends, and blogging friends – a circle of support showing us over and over again that we are not on this journey alone.

And today? Today she is smiling, bouncing, excited for school. The flowers are up and blooming in the garden, heralding a new beginning, a new start for a new year of magic for my sweet girl. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

20130311-093333.jpg

Spinning, laughing, dancing to
Her favorite song
A little girl with nothing wrong
Is all alone

Eyes wide open
Always hoping for the sun
And she’ll sing her song to anyone
That comes along

Fragile as a leaf in autumn
Just fallin’ to the ground
Without a sound

Crooked little smile on her face
Tells a tale of grace
That’s all her own

Spinning, laughing, dancing to her
Favorite song
A little girl with nothing wrong
And she’s all alone

~ Norah Jones

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