Monday, July 11, 2022

Autism Answer: Sweet Serenity


Serenity in my arms at her first birthday party

Serenity: the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.
"Mom," my oldest son looked at me, concern surrounding him in a thick fog, contributing perhaps to the slow moving demeanor he appeared to have, "are you going to be okay? I have to take her to the hospital, are you staying or coming with us?"
Oh, I wanted to go. I wanted to be with him and his wife as their second daughter was born, but by some terrible twist of fate I was dizzy, pasty, unable to stand. Practically passed out on the couch as my son ran from one room, taking care of his labouring wife, to another, asking questions of his unexpectedly faint mother. 
"Maybe get Dramma. She can be with you and I'll stay here with Nevaeh." My mom could go with them to the hospital, and I would stay here, sleeping alongside my oldest granddaughter who was oh so soon going to be a big sister. 
My son ran up the stairs to wake my mom. I stood shakily up from the couch and went to my daughter-in-law, rubbed her back a bit while she lumbered wide legged out of the tiny downstairs bathroom. The roaring noise in my head was overwhelming and I was grateful it could only be heard by me and was unlikely to wake the baby in the other room. Even the labouring mom was moving with more grace than I could muster, and though the sound in my head was distractingly loud I could tell she was doing a good job of keeping quiet. 
Quickly, my mom and son came down the stairs. Again I was asked if I was okay, and asked if I wanted to go to the hospital, but again I opted to stay home with Nevaeh. They promised to keep me in the loop, photos and updates would be sent, and away they went.
With effort I moved my body toward the bedroom where Nevaeh slept. I saw her, there at the end of my fuzzy tunnel vision, tiny and sleeping on the big bed of her mom and dad's. A little baby, only one year old, about to become a big sister. 
Silently and carefully I crawled in beside her. I didn't want to wake her, but I had to feel her in my arms. I placed one arm over her and waited, she didn't move. I scooted my body closer to hers, I softly kissed her forehead, I felt myself drift peacefully to sleep. 
My phone was beside me on the bed, and I would open my eyes periodically to peek. Is she here? Is everything okay? It seemed things were moving along well at the hospital, and with each text or image that brought me closer to Serenity, I felt my body move closer to it's regular untroubled self. No longer feeling faint, simply bruised from it. 
Then, as Nevaeh stirred in my arms, in the wee early hours, I felt a true calm. I felt peaceful. I felt Serenity. My phone dinged.
There she was. Beautiful! Here! Born in a room I where I was not but where my mom and son were. Beautiful!
Nevaeh opened her eyes and looked at me with uncharacteristic softness. She is a sweet girl, but rarely is she calm and soft. She's almost always spunky and sassy. However, in that moment, she was serene. I showed her the picture and quietly announced, "There she is, Nevaeh. There's your baby sister, Serenity."
Nevaeh reached out and touched my phone with all the softness in the world. Her tiny fingers traced the cheeks on my screen. They moved slowly, softly. Soft small sleepy fingers touching the screen displaying her sister. I was overcome with love for these girls. These sisters. I was grateful, oh so grateful, to be there in that room. In that moment. Watching big sister trace tiny fingers over baby sister, happy and calm. Peaceful and complete. 
I put the phone down as Nevaeh snuggled into me to fall back asleep. Dreaming, possibly, of her baby sister. Feeling, in my arms, like a gift. A gift on her sister's birthday. 
Serenity: a beautiful baby, a sister, a daughter, a granddaughter, a niece, born four years ago this day.
Once morning arrived in earnest I brought Nevaeh with me to meet Serenity in the hospital. 
Serenity. There she was. It was a gift for me to share this moment - the moment of meeting Serenity - with my oldest granddaughter. The two of us having snuggled waiting for her, and now she's here. 
But I am also selfish. And I couldn't wait until my own moment, alone with Serenity. A moment I would get that night in the hospital.
It was my turn.
My son went home, my mom went home, Nevaeh went home, and I stayed. I chatted with my daughter-in-law, and walked the baby that night. Serenity woke up many many times, and I was fully there. Not faint. Yes, a bit tired, but oh so there. 
Serenity: my granddaughter, a child who helps me feel untroubled by the distance between us, calm in the certainty that we are not distant.
It is my fate as a grandma to only sometimes be there. The day Serenity was born was my first time choosing so clearly not to be there. It hurt, but became beautiful too. 
Today Serenity turns four. Once again, I am not there. Oh, I want to be with her! I want to hold her, sing to her, talk about how stronger she is with her. (When I saw her last month she woke me up every morning to show me how stronger she is. 😃
But it is also beautiful where I am, who I am with. Hence, it's okay. Serenity knows I am there when I can be, and when it's the right choice for us. Well, she doesn't know, she's only four, but she feels it and I hope one day it will grow into a knowing. 
In the meantime, I will always be here for her. Wherever my here is, wherever her here is, she has me.
Happy birthday sweet sweet Serenity!
I love you!
Hugs, smiles, and love!
"We write to taste life twice; in the moment, and in retrospect." ~ Anais Nin