When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

May 1, 2012

May 1, 2012


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Shaker Village, Hancock, MA, April 28, 2012

May 1, 2012.  I struggle to keep my voice calm and cheerful as I listen to Peter on the phone, which has become our lifeline to each other as surely as it was when Pat and I dated long-distance, NYC to Atlanta, 15 years earlier.  Dropping him off at Green Chimneys last night, we shared the now familiar ache derived from having a 10-year old child separated, more days than not, from the rest of his family.  “When I’m discharged, Mom,” he asks plaintively, “can I join the Boy Scouts?”  It’s an unexpected question, Peter never having expressed any interest in Boy Scouts in the past.  “I don’t want to be bored when I go home,” he explains.  “I know I gotta stay busy.”  On occasion we carpool with another Red Hook family whose teenage daughter also attends Green Chimneys.  When we arrived back at school Sunday night, the teenager announced that she was being discharged in August and will be attending a different but less restrictive special needs all-girls boarding school next fall.  Peter didn’t catch the part about her going to another “sleep away” school, only that she was being discharged from Green Chimneys, and I didn’t have the heart to correct his thinking.  I know Sunday’s conversation is what sparked his sudden interest in discharge, which is of course the ultimate goal of all Green Chimney residential students.  Despite knowing that this has stirred up his homesickness, I’m nonetheless struck by the fact that he has developed enough self-awareness to know that he needs constant structure, that free time is one of his mind’s worst enemies.  When I speak to him on the phone, listening to his doleful voice, I long to tell him that soon he’ll be back with us on a permanent basis, that “sleep away” school one day will be a thing of the past, but I reply more carefully.  The truth is I don’t know when Peter will be coming home, he’s making great progress in so many areas – like social skills, continence, speech/language, and daily living, but at the same time he’s demonstrating little if any gains in terms of his constant, chronic need for supervision and redirection.  It’s only been 10 months but the reality is that he may always need the 24/7 external brain that Green Chimneys provides.  I fully appreciate that his improved emotional and psychiatric stability might quickly deteriorate were he back home where the level of constant intervention that Green Chimneys supplies simply cannot be replicated on a continuous basis.  It’s a harsh reality and one that I push from my mind with some frequency.  I miss Peter terribly but console myself by recognizing that I might never have felt this way, that we never might have been capable of this closeness, had I not fought for and won his love and trust.  When he’s home now, whether for just a weekend or a longer break, I have learned to relax in his presence and enjoy our relationship without the constant burden of having to teach, re-teach, redirect, or provide consequences.  For the most part, I no longer have to teeter along the precipice of enjoying my role as mother and protector while constantly aware that disaster and chaos could plunge all of us into darkness at any moment.  But Peter doesn’t understand this, he couldn’t possibly, and frankly, I hope he never does.  I don’t want our son ever to think that he’s a burden, that the effort needed to care for and protect him is more than we are equipped to handle.  And so as I speak to him on the phone, I distract him by reviewing when he’ll be home next and what our plans are for the upcoming weeks.  I acknowledge that he misses home and that I miss him too, but I do my best not to let his wistful voice tear at the fabric of the faith I have in our decision to enroll him at Green Chimneys.  In so many ways, the school is an oasis, both for students and parents.  I have to remember that it’s a place of growth, acceptance, and healing and that its existence is an extremely positive presence in our lives.  But here’s the thing: I also can’t forget that positive change, at least in our case, is not without toll.  As we say goodnight, I propose that we meet on the moon in our dreams, a game Peter and I always have played and one that makes him truly smile.  I tell him to look for a polka-dotted spaceship and he tells me that his will be blue with a big yellow star on the tip.  We agree that I’ll bring snacks and he’ll bring a soccer ball.  I tell him I love him and kiss the phone, knowing that in our dreams, we are always together.

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6 Comments »

  1. As always so very exquisitely written and touching in such a beautiful way. Thank you for sharing such a special part of your life with Peter. Meeting at the moon in your dreams is just so heart-warming; I can just picture his wonderful smile on that handsome face of his!

    Comment by Norine Nakao-Peyton — May 1, 2012 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

  2. What a beautiful and moving post. Your description of the dream meeting on the moon brought tears to my eyes. You are brave and strong.
    Rebecca-FL-Mom to Sergio FAS age 7

    Comment by Rebecca — May 1, 2012 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

  3. How I love that dream meeting idea! What a beautiful way to stay together, having fun.

    Blessings on all of you, and on Green Chimneys for the saving work they do.

    Comment by Kathleen — May 1, 2012 @ 3:21 pm | Reply

  4. Good to hear from you again. I am so glad you have found a place like Green Chimneys for Peter, and it seems to do him so much good, but it must also be hard to hear him wanting to be home without him realizing that would not necessarily help him. You are doing such a good job and your response to him was so kind and tender. Hang in there!

    Comment by happygoluckytireegal — May 1, 2012 @ 4:27 pm | Reply

  5. A lovely post, Mary.

    Comment by Cynthia Kirtland — May 1, 2012 @ 6:47 pm | Reply

  6. Mary, it has been so very long since I have seen a post from you ~ I was thrilled to read this one today. It seems as if you have found a place that can truly help Peter as he grows and also allow yourselves some sort of normalcy at home with your daughter. My thoughts and prayers are always with you. May God bless you all with patience, love and more.
    Best,
    Meg

    Comment by Meg Coldwells — May 1, 2012 @ 9:48 pm | Reply


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