The calendar turned to August today and like so many other people, I loathe the thought. It isn’t witty nor original to hate August. In fact, it is so commonplace that it doesn’t even make sense to really mention it. I even have a beloved cartoon living in my desk drawer that shows a woman jotting something in her calendar and remarking that the date is August 47th.
August is fraught with conflict. It brings the end of summer, but for us it may just be the one month of summer we get. Max will go to camp for two weeks to finally (I hope) have some fun, and we all get a break from therapy to relax a bit too.
August offers a sinking realization that one year from now we will be taking Sophie to college. Lamenting an entire year may seem unfair to those we love who are taking that trip for the first time right now – but dread mixed with the unknown is just about the most uncomfortable pair of shoes one can wear. She seems to have found a school she loves – one that fits her perfectly. With rolling admissions and an early start on applications, this college thing might actually be in the bag soon. I already miss her terribly. She has become a magical unicorn full of fairy dust. She is so beautiful, sparkly, confident and able that when I look at her she literally has a glowing aura. Perhaps it is my exhaustion or some sort of deranged trick life plays on parents, but I swear there is nothing brighter on earth right now than the light coming from her.
August brings us a long three months since Max’s surgery. While I absolutely cannot say that he is in anything resembling a “glowing unicorn phase” at 14 and still recovering from surgery, but he is progressing slowly. I am hanging today’s hat on advice that real changes can start to happen in month four. He is doing little things differently – things that would mean nothing to the outside world – but evidence of some changes in his function. He can get in and out the car in an easier way, walk up the steps with a slightly different pattern and able to move parts of his body that he could never move before. He can put on a pair of sandals by himself because his ankle joints move and he can actually bend his feet. He has no pain from spasticty and tightness – none at all. I don’t think he fully understands the significance of that. He was experiencing daily pain and now there is none. For an adult, that would bring joy and celebration, but at 14 he is devastated that he can’t dive off the diving board yet. The diving board was truly the highlight of his life. It is gone for now, but I know not forever. He, like August itself, is conflicted. He wants to progress, but at the same time wants to go back to what he was before. I constantly have to remind him (and myself) that before wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. There was a real and terrifying decline catching up to him and whispering to us everyday it’s threats to take it all from him forever – the diving board, his independence, and his health.
The before seems better when the after is unknown. But, if only for today, I will rest in some comfort that progress, like our summer in August, can’t be over if it has barely just begun.