Sunday, August 8, 2010

Make me a bird......


It has been a busy summer. First, Kate's high school graduation and celebration, then the jaunt to the beach for her Don't BP'n on project, immediately followed by WB's hospital stay and medicine adjustments, our new plan to receive guests and now our preparations to get Kate moved in at the University of Alabama this Friday. 

How hard can this be? So far, I have remained stoic. It was decided after WB's diagnosis that she would attend UAB and live at home as early on it seemed imperative to me that she stay in close proximity to us/him. UAB is a 30-35 minute drive into the heart of Birmingham's south side and actually farther away that her commute to ASFA for the past 5 years. The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa is about a 40-45 minute drive from our home.

If UAB had been the only option for her, she would have taken it with a smile and moved on. Even though it was not her ideal plan, Kate is easy like that. She handles disappointment with grace and has matured through adversity over the past 3-4 years. 

However, somewhere along the way and as WB's condition worsened, my thinking changed. As parents, we say, "I would give up a limb or a vital organ for my child, would stand in front of a train, would give them the last piece of bread in the house......" 

In our situation, I became increasingly aware of the caregiver burden on her and decided to not only move her out of the house and onto campus, but into the college experience that she and this family had always planned for her. I am convinced that she will thrive where she is happy and am expecting great things for her. 

Today, I am standing in front of that train. In another lifetime, it would have been WB ~

Yes, we have a huge illness in the home, yes it has changed our lives, our occupations, our living arrangements, our roles, our goals, our plans. She would not be my offspring if she did not feel a certain level responsibility to her family. However, at not yet 18 years of age, she has been through enough disappointment and now it is time for her to fly.

It was Jenny in the Forrest Gump movie who said, "Dear God, make me a bird, so I can fly far, far away from here." I am in fear everyday that this is her prayer and then remind myself of who she really is and her personal feelings of responsibility to her family and the community. Still, this is her time.

The entire clan recognizes that WB will need extra care, love and attention during this transition. He has been asking everyday if "this is the day". Since he cannot keep days and dates in order, this must be especially confusing for him and I recognize his growing levels of anxiety. We are all taking precautions to give him extra care and attention over the next several weeks. 

I rose early this morning and am teary-eyed with this writing. All around me lay the evidence; full bins of bedding, school supplies, clothing, collegiate accoutrements and decorations. As a committed organizer and control freak, the planning of this move and the gathering of needed items began last fall. I know myself well enough to prepare early as it makes things easier for me.  I do not want the last "screen shot" to be Kate standing on the curbside at Blount waving to her mother (who is wailing and slinging snot) with remorse. This will not happen. 

So Kate, this is for you ~ this is your time. We are so proud of you! These are intended to be some of the happiest and most wonderful times of your life. We have less control on what goes on at home than ever before and even though we fought to create stability, you may find for awhile that normalcy takes place elsewhere. That is not my hope for you, but I accept it. We do not choose our circumstances but we can change our luck. Be serious with your education, take advantage of the opportunities that come your way, protect your body and your mind, work hard, find time to play and pray, never let them see you sweat and most of all and never forget, SMILE and WAVE LIKE A PRINCESS!

It may take medicine, it may take booze, it may take everything I can muster but it has to go down this way. For her, for me, for WB.


  1. Take a deep breath!! You have raised a wonderful daughter!! Maybe a drink and a smile later.. next week?

  2. "40-45 minute drive"...something tells me there will be many weekends when you hear the door and Kate's sweet voice saying "Mom, Dad....I'm home!"
    .....with a bag full of laundry!

    God bless and protect our sweet little Kate on this very special chapter of her life!

  3. She's not wanting to be a bird as she leaves your nest but all I heard in my head while reading this was:

    On the wings of love
    Up and above the clouds
    The only way to fly
    Is on the wings of love

    Katie, I know that your college experience will be everything we all hoped it would be - and more! Dr. Phil told his son's "Right now your JOB is to get educated and have lots of fun!" I agree! You'll have to be a grownup for the next 60 years after college so I hope you'll do just that!

    Rhonda, you'll be fine. I'll see to it friend!


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