We moved an extra bed down from the attic. It is literally the only thing in “her” room now.
Naturally, we sent her bed, nightstand, dresser, and chest of drawers with her. She needs them more than my husband and I. She’d gotten rid of all the running trophies and awards long ago. I was ok with that decision. They didn’t mean as much to her as they once had, and honestly, they were pretty painful for me to look at on a weekly basis.
All the decorations are gone too. She had beautiful white frames all over her walls which held pictures. Once they were all pictures of her and her teammates running. Obviously, the photos in those frames have changed drastically over the last six years. They are now all hanging in her new home where she lives, now that she’s graduated from college.
Her old closet is the only place in the room where there is still a trace of her. Well, the closet and the colors of the walls. A week before our vacation that never was, we redecorated her room while she was on a week-long church mission trip. The little girl pink was covered with a more appropriate 15-year-old gray and teal. Yet the closet never got painted. It’s still the little girl pink that it was when she was just five and we built the house. Her room was adorable with its pink walls and white picket fence with little butterflies and ladybugs painted here and there. When Amber came to paint those finishing touches, she strategically placed one butterfly and one ladybug in the closet. Alissa loved it! The talkative little kindergartner jabbered and jabbered about the ladybugs in her room!
As I was on my hands and knees cleaning the baseboard of the closet I took a deep sigh. The butterfly and ladybug are still there in the closet, but so are numerous items I had no idea we would ever “own.” Most folks wouldn’t even know what they were for or understand why we even have them. . .unless you too, have a family member in the paralysis club.
I took yet another deep sigh, but there were no tears. It seemed such an odd juxtaposition: the ladybug in the closet with all its young, innocent promise of hopes and dreams and normalcy, and then all of the paralysis paraphernalia. Paralysis, one of Satan’s many ways to try to crush hopes and dreams. And while he doesn’t succeed with crushing all hopes and dreams via paralysis, he does crush a few. And he gets “the fun” of taking away normal.
I think that’s what I truly grieve the most for my daughter and our family. . .I grieve the loss of normal. I feel like Emily in the play, “Our Town.” What I wouldn’t give for one more day of normal. One conversation. One trip without loading the wheelchair. One day of shopping to try on clothes in a store dressing room. One time to enter a building like everyone else, or sit where everyone else sits, or the ability to stand, whenever everyone is asked to stand.
Normal is what I miss the most.
All that to say, there’s a flip side to the empty room. I’ve done my job and she’s done hers, despite some unique struggles along the way. A college graduate in three years, a good job, living independently; well, it’s what the mom of that “little ladybug gal” had hoped for her, but as some of us know, there’s never any guarantees in life here on earth.
Ladybugs, paralysis gear, an empty bedroom in our home, a lovely apartment in another city.. .her life and my life, so intertwined in a whale of a story. It’s been beautiful and heart-wrenching. It’s been full of immense joy and enormous heartache. It’s been filled with wonderful people and moments of great isolation, all of which I’m fairly certain is very representative of life—that odd combination of ladybugs and paralysis.
To God be the glory, great things He has done through it all.
Until the next Wednesday the Lord allows.