We passed the six-month mark with the new kidney more than a week ago. I mean it when I say 'we'. Babygirl bears the scars on her body, but Hubby and I carry our own scars.
Each time a major life trauma strikes you, it narrows your safety zone. Each of us has said, "That will NEVER happen to me because...." and listed in our private hearts all the reasons why the afflicted are actually to blame for their afflictions. The homeless could get work. The mentally ill could take their meds. MY kids ALWAYS wear their seat belts and would NEVER get into a car with an impaired driver. MY daughters took their prenatal vitamins, breastfed their babies, and are stay-at-home moms, so nothing bad will ever, EVER happen to my grandkids.
Each of us is guilty, in the secret recesses of our minds, of the kind of Magical thinking that makes us sure that we will not suffer. And each of us knows, even deeper, that we are lying to ourselves. As we get older and repetitive trauma strips away our super powers, we understand more, and judge less. And we adjust our expectations accordingly. I AM going to have arthritis. I'm going to take these blood pressure pills for the rest of my life. Getting up off the floor is never going to be simple or graceful again.
Having your child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness digs much, much deeper. There's no protection here. All our imaginary armour fails, and there is no one to blame, no excuse that makes that child's suffering palatable to us. I see children at CHOP who are undergoing chemotherapy, who are missing limbs from birth, who are hooked to feeding systems, IV poles, pacemakers and dialysis machines, and no one is responsible for their pain. It just IS. Knowing that the treatments are all, in the end, delaying tactics (with more or less success depending of factors wholly outside of our control) adds uncertainty to unending uncertainty.
I have been deliberately avoiding keeping track of the milestone days surrounding the transplant. If I did, those milestones could easily overshadow other very important things - Squeaker's birthday, Babygirl's official adoption by Hubby, sunny spring mornings, summer sunsets, mission work. Keeping track feels a little like some kind of scorekeeping, letting me fall back into the realm of Magic (after all if the kidney makes it through this first year we are good to go, right?). But six months seems momentous. It hardly seems possible that a little more than six months ago we were still dealing with dialysis, nightly pain, daily exhaustion.
When I think about now, compared to then, daily life is SO much better. Babygirl sleeps (when she isn't having all-night-up sleepovers with friends!). Babygirl is energetic, happy, gregarious and carefree. She's looking forward to restarting school, getting new clothes, and a new season of Glee.
My imagination is somewhat poorer for all of the experiences of the last 16 months. I try not to let my mind run riot through the valley of the shadow, I do. But I'm having trouble rebuilding my Magically safe world.
No great loss. It never existed in reality.
It's been a long road to recovery. It's been a winding, twisted journey to Reality. Nothing has changed but the view. Learning to appreciate real life instead of the fantasy has benefits as well as risks. I really don't want to live fake. But that means I need to look, really LOOK, at life. It's scary. It's beautiful. It's amazing.
Like Babygirl herself.