When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

August 29, 2011

August 29, 2011

Dutchess County Fair, Aug. 26, 2011

August 29, 2011.  I’ve been a half-hearted insomniac most of my life, teetering on the edge of clinical significance, as seems the case with so many other challenges in my life!  As I lay awake at 2 a.m. watching Mystery Diagnosis in the bonus room – a show Pat claims is at least partially responsible for my insomnolence, I can’t help but giggle to myself.  Our dog Pippin, loyally snug in the crook of my arm, looks up at me, sleepy but enthused.  It seems we share synchronicity of mood, a divine pleasure I think any dog lover understands and cherishes.  I was joking with Pat the other day in the car, accusing him, at age 63, of vacillating between adolescent rage and geriatric forgetfulness.  A little erratic behind the wheel, I honestly couldn’t tell whether he was experiencing road rage, absentmindedness or some combination thereof.  He thought my description funny and the memory of that drive had me laughing in the middle of the night despite the weight of the worries keeping me awake.  But all kidding aside, I think he and I are suffering from the same symptoms, they’re just manifesting differently.  It’s been nearly ten weeks since Peter entered Green Chimneys as a residential student, but we’ve yet to reach a new equilibrium.  I’ve read the Out of Sync Child cover to cover, maybe more than once.  If only it provided guidance for the out of sync parent, which is surely what Pat and I have become.  Before Green Chimneys, we were on a tumultuous ride with our now 10-year-old son, and one that didn’t always produce desired results.  But it was a ride we nonetheless came to understand.  It was familiar.  Now things have changed for Sophie, Peter, Pat, and I.  It’s like we’ve been flung into the realm of some metamorphic process and we’re waiting with bated breath to see how we’ll emerge.  Will we all become butterflies or will some combination of us turn out less desirably, like say, a newt?  Peter came home for his first lengthy break on Friday afternoon.  He doesn’t have to go back until Labor Day.  He’s lost a little weight, seems more wistful than I remember, and is acting more than a little shy.  Despite the awkward melancholy, we picked up his meds at the Health Center, said our goodbyes to staff, and headed straight to the county fair, which was a good thing because we later learned it was closing at midnight due to the anticipation of Hurricane Irene.  Our kids look forward to the fair almost as much as Christmas or Halloween and I would have hated them to miss it.  When we finally got home, exhausted, grimy, and smelling of corndogs and fried dough, I watched as Peter brushed his fingers lightly along the kitchen island and then the kitchen table.  The excitement of the fair had pushed the melancholy aside but now it was back.  When I asked what he was doing, he responded, “It feels like a new home, Mom.”  I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard, and yet I knew exactly what he meant.  Despite the fuzziness that coats so many of his thoughts, in that moment he experienced complete clarity of mind.  I almost broke down in front of him but I fought back my emotions, bit my quivering lip, and gave him the biggest hug he could handle.  “Your home will always be where I am,” I whispered.  I’m not sure he bought the half-truth but he was gracious and stoic enough to leave it alone.  We have changed, our little family of four.  But instead of slumbering peacefully until the final transformation is complete, I remain alert and restless, pensive but also steadfast in my conviction to stay the course.  I must have faith in myself, my husband, of our decision to place Peter in a residential school, and in the strength and resilience of our two remarkable though disproportionately wounded children.  Our metamorphosis, it seems, has only just begun.  I’m hoping all four of us have the stuff from which butterflies are made.



  1. As ever, Mary, aren’t you insightful! In my experience the family continues to transition when it has a child in a residential school. For me, for a long time it was like we were running two families. One on the weekdays when Katie was at school, and an entirely different one on the weekends and long holidays when she was home.


    Comment by Christopher Duncan — August 29, 2011 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

  2. Mary, thanks for sharing. I hope your family enjoys this time together and it goes smoothly! My own son has been at a residential treatment center for 10 days now. I can empathize with your sleepless nights, worries and doubts. Praying for you.

    Comment by Bridget — August 29, 2011 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

  3. Beautifully written.

    Well done, all-around.


    Comment by Christine — August 29, 2011 @ 6:31 pm | Reply

  4. beautifully written. I give you a big pat on the back for making such a tough decison but one that needed to be done for both your son and your other children and husband. Bless you for writing such candid thoughts and feelings on such a tough subject.

    Hugs Sarah

    Comment by Sarah Irvine — August 29, 2011 @ 7:45 pm | Reply

  5. As always your words have touched my heart and reminded me to hold tight to the days of calm before the storm. We are just beginning our journey of FAS and have yet to see where it will take us. Our daughter, born in Ryazan and adopted at the age of 3, had her first day of kindergarten today with an IEP already in place from her year in preschool. I thank you for taking me along on your journey with Peter and Sophie.

    Comment by Bobbi — August 29, 2011 @ 7:57 pm | Reply

  6. I have been reading with interest as you navigated a system that is not supportive of families in need. Our daughter starts Kindergarten in 2 days (a day late thanks to Irene) with no IEP in place though it’s been in the works for 3 months now. They keep insisting she will be fine regardless of FAS/RAD/PTSD and more. I’ve resigned myself to the long fight that seems to happen with each child that comes home broken and in need of peace, resilience, healing.

    Comment by Rebecca Leigh Johnson — August 29, 2011 @ 9:59 pm | Reply

  7. Mary,

    I’ve been following your story almost from the beginning of your posts. I can’t say that I know exactly what you’re going through, but I do understand in general the pain of having to commit a child to a residential facility. My oldest daughter (21)has severe brain damage due to birth trauma. We kept her at home until she was ten, but as she got bigger and heavier it eventually became impossible to care for her at home safely. My middle daugter appeared normal until puberty, at which point she exhibited her first signs of mental illness; for which we’ve had to hospitalize her more than once. I also have an eight-year-old autistic son.

    It doesn’t ever get “easy” to place your child in the hands of others, and it can take a long time to find that new normal. In fact, I think that “normal” may not even be the right word. For ten years while my oldest was home; every trip outside the home…even for McDonald’s;…had to be carefully orchestrated. As a result, we really never went anywhere. If we ate out, it was drive-thru. I can remember crying after she went into the nursing home at one point because I’d taken my younger daughter into a restaurant for the first time in years; and it just felt wierd to be there. I’m glad you have found a place for Peter that he can be safe and get the attention his disorder requires. I will pray for your family as you discover these new dynamics together.

    Comment by Tracy Mayer — August 30, 2011 @ 8:44 am | Reply

  8. It is so normal for us to want a resolution to a problem or to peak into our future when it feels so uncertain. Unfortunately we don’t have that luxury. Lack of control or feeling like everything is so unfinished is something that keeps most of us up at night. Give it time and I know you will find a new family rhythm. You and Pat have made the absolute best decision for all involved. Peter’s life would be so different if you had not come into it. You have given him the opportunity he needed to have the best possible future and should feel proud of yourselves for putting his needs before your own!

    Comment by maureen.t@embarqmail.com — August 30, 2011 @ 10:27 am | Reply

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