The past year has not been an easy one for my little family, which, isn’t actually so little any more, now that I think about it. With 2 kids, we’re now the average. And I suppose our struggles are now the average too, though many days it certainly doesn’t feel like it.
In the past year, we’ve tackled Autism and learning our son with this new word attached to him. An explanation for the baffling behaviors we had noticed and excused away for so long. We went head to head with colic, the Air Force, a transition to civilians, leaving behind some of the best friends we ever had, the VA, 1 cross country move, living in a small house full to bursting, a state change, a spur of the moment move across town, unemployment, toeing the poverty line, getting a diagnosis from the school system, evaluations, deposits we couldn’t pay, shut off water and stress that we hadn’t known in years. We collapsed into bed some nights, exhausted and discouraged, laying awake long after the rest of the world fell asleep, doubting our choices and wondering when it was all going to give. We questioned God and our families and ourselves, breathed in with lungs tight with panic and anxiety and chased after dreams, begging for a break. A chance to slip away from reality.
There’s been dirty, broken moments, where the sun has shone through windows smudged with small handprints and dust motes hovered in the air and tears came hot and heavy and stifling. Where the sight and sounds of our boys were enough to squeeze our hearts in a painful vice because they did not deserve to be failed and yet, that’s what was happening. We were forced to get back to the basics. Clipping coupons, making from scratch, figuring out how to make our own detergent, cutting back on things we may not need. We were saying no to requests with voices that were firm and dripping with defeat. We got familiar with Bolívar’s labyrinth and cursed it because we came seeking Rabelais’ Great Perhaps and couldn’t find it, not in the bills that were piling up or the kids whose birthdays were slim or the phone calls that came like fists from dark corners aimed at our guts. There was us and four walls and the constant worry that perhaps we couldn’t keep these four walls up. That we were putting off the inevitable. Failure. Being buried.
But somewhere in all this, in our struggles and our no’s and the bills that kept coming in outweighing the money that wasn’t, our story started taking shape. Little moments that were more real than the life that we left behind in the desert. The life that never truly felt like ours. There was a dusty radio and a crackling station and dances with squealing children in a dim kitchen. Floorboards that creaked under our feet as we checked on babies with dreams fluttering across their faces. There were nights that hands found each other through tangles of sheets that were slightly too warm, silent promises whispered in the tight grip of fingers, vows to stay true and strong and together. There were adventures in the backyard, wearing hats made from paper and swords made of sticks and princesses saved from weeds that needed cut back. There was nights spent on porches with crickets seranading and frogs chiming in to harmonize. There was giggles and yellowed piano keys that were banged and little feet that raced down the hall, shrieks of laughter that filled the air. There were stories read in low lit rooms, with little voices whispering and tiny hands skipping back a page. There was magic that wasn’t handed to us, that we didn’t discover, that we created in between breaking and fixing and tears and heartache.
We came seeking a Great Perhaps and we found another labyrinth. We found suffering. We found struggling. We found throats that felt too tight to swallow and hearts that beat a little too fast. We found that our voices and hands may shake but we would keep talking, keep doing. Things would fall apart and we may stumble but we’d keep going. We found victories. Small little victories, a new food tried, a new skill mastered, a hug between two fighting brothers.We found ourselves and we found each other and we shaped and twisted the walls of this labyrinth to resemble a great perhaps. And when it’s all said and done, we’ll find that it was worth it. Because the sweetest joys came from the deepest sorrows and we learned to appreciate both.