Sunday, April 15, 2012

Aftershocks

I got an email tonight from someone who googled their way to my blog. A friend's baby had rolled off something onto the floor, and after they rushed to the hospital an x-ray revealed old rib fractures. The baby and his 3-year-old sister were immediately removed from their home and the parents are dealing with the terror and uncertainty of figuring out how and when they get them back. The friend wondered if I had any advice.

I wrote back right away, as I have to. Too many people helped me for me to allow myself the luxury of archiving the email without reading or responding. And I have to write it quickly, fingers flying, not stopping to think too hard about it because I can't. I can't get sucked back into thinking about those days and months. I press send, say a prayer for them, and try to force my mind to new thoughts before I dwell on the old ones.

Tonight it didn't work. Probably because it was bedtime and JP fell asleep immediately and I made the mistake of drinking a diet coke after my self-imposed 1 p.m. caffeine cut-off and even though I never sat down for a minute today and my feet are killing me, I'm wide awake and not at all tired. I could have woken JP, could have told him about the email, could have made him hug me or kiss me or do whatever else to switch my thoughts - could have gotten him to do that without any explanation - but I never tell him about these emails and anyway, he was already asleep and I know he has a 6 a.m. conference call. Sometimes I can be thoughtful.

So when tears rolled down the bridge of my nose, I came here. Here, where I wrote about that whole nightmare blow-by-blow, posts I won't read, posts I should probably delete but can't because occasionally they help people and whether I like it or not, the whole experience is an indelible part of me.

I remember after we got Landon back home, and we were past the first few weeks of visits and safety plans, when we exited crisis mode, I wondered- how do we get past this? It happened. It can't un-happen. How do you stop thinking about it? remembering it? living it? And four and a half years later the answer appears to be, you just do. We were lucky in that our personal nightmare inflicted no permanent change or damage, nothing outward anyway, and our lives were generally able to pick back up and move on. And then we moved and no one in our new city even knew what happened, and that helped. In Austin, we were just parents of an adorably mellow toddler who caused all the parents we hung around to comment with envy on his good behavior and lack of tantrums. We got to be thought of as good parents - good, lucky parents with a great kid and no qualifiers. And that helped more. And time passed, and we had Claire- our easy, happy baby, our baby that seemed to offer proof that yes, were were good parents after all, and that helped most.

But still, it happened. I've been interviewed by police. I've taken a lie detector test. I've sobbed so hard I thought I was going to throw up. I've woken up at night, expecting to feed a baby, and had to remember that he isn't in my care and I don't know when he's coming back. It will always be true that I've done those things, felt those things.

What do you do with that? That knowledge and those memories? I think the answer is you just let them roll through you when they have to and then you go to sleep and wake up and start a new day. Landon's almost 5 years old. That's 1,825 days of living. Those 4 days he spent away from us at three-months-old account for so little. And yet, they're why JP hates Chicago. They're why my hands were shaking when I signed Landon in to get an x-ray on our last day in Austin when he'd had a stomach ache for too long. In that moment, as Landon bounded up on the x-ray table, telling the tech about his superman shirt, I was absolutely terrified - what if they find something? What if we don't know what caused it? What if they think it's us? How can we explain TWO unexplained things? We could lose him again, him AND Claire, all to some horrific unexplainable coincidence. I was standing perfectly still in the anteroom and my heart was pounding and I was dizzy and my voice shook when I gave the tech permission to give Landon a lollipop.

But he was fine, completely fine, and so when my co-worker said to me at brunch at his house this morning, "Your kids are so well behaved- and they sleep well? Man, you got off easy with them!" I just get to smile and laugh a little and agree that yes, we're very lucky. Because we are, we are so lucky, but we've been unlucky too, and there's nothing I can really do with that. There's no reason we had to go through it, no good that came out of it, and no positive affect it has on our present and our future. It's just there.

And because it's there, sometimes I'm here, thinking about it and writing about it. And then sharing it, because where else can it go?

23 comments:

  1. I tried to think of something positive to write, but really, it sucks. You are a testament to resiliency, but it sucks. *hugs*

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  2. Thanks LL for sharing - and I'll also comment without thinking too hard.

    Your blogs are a highlight of my week - not that my own life's not great but I get a little burst of happiness to see there's a new post in my reader - they are my very favourite posts to read.

    It's a joy and privilege to have a little window on the world of your happy family and to be part of your optimism and energy and joy for life. I came to your blog four and a half years ago when the nightmare had just started, and have been here ever since, cheering you on from a distance.

    I'll also admit I have had days lately when I've been inspired by your decluttering stuff and thought "what would LL do? She'd get up and wipe those countertops clean rather than leave it for the morning and I think I'll feel better tomorrow if I do (whatever task) now."

    So thanks for sharing the tough and the joyful stuff and for providing hope, inspiration and joy.

    From the outside(filtered through the blog) it's seems like the difficulty you've been through makes the joyful bits so much sweeter, and the power of your writing through thick and thin, joy and torment has made your writing so much stronger. No one would ever wish the experience on you and no one can go all cliched optimism, as we can't know what would have happened if someone read an X Ray better 4.5 years ago - you may have turned out the same.

    But from the outside your trials look like they have made you stronger and utterly able to appreciate joy and happiness. I admire you greatly and enjoy your blog company.

    None of that may helps when the anxiety hits, so I have a practical suggestion. I've found yoga helps with getting the stress out of muscles. 5 sun salutations (the extended ones) can help ease out the stress. Also, when I get little PTSD type anxiety (mine's related to an earthquake), looking out a window into the sky helps me.

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  3. i knew instantly when i saw "aftershocks" in my feed what had happened.
    i never have words, but wanted you to know i am thinking of you.

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  4. I know it feels like nothing good has come out of the situation... but the fact that you are still getting emails 4.5 years later, and are able to provide comfort and hope to someone going through a situation is one positive. I'm sure that's a responsibility that you would rather not have, but it sounds like you and the blog are a beacon of hope for others. You likely have no idea how much of an impact that your situation - and the fact that it's out there for others to see - has had on someone. Also? I am in the process of interviewing for a Quality Improvement position for a Child and Family Services department in a county government. This story made such an impact on me... if I get the job, I plan on having all of our CPS workers read it - to help them remember the ripple effects that their decisions create, and to help them remember to always exercise thoughtful, respectful judgment when making the tough decisions that they do. In this field, it is so hard to get callous, and forget the impact that we make to real people.

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    1. Wendy, I hope you get the job .... If you could only know how many of us are sisters to this nightmare.

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  5. Hugs, LL. I hate that you had that terrible experience, and I admire you for being willing to respond to that person's email. Not everyone would be willing to risk reminding themselves of something painful to help someone else. I'm sure it was a comfort to them.

    Hilary in MO

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  6. Big hugs to you and as BFF said, I'm thinking of you.

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  7. hugs hugs hugs hugs......

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  8. Oh, good. ::whew:: I know the situation to which you're referring, and I thought to myself several times over the weekend, "I need to get her to Lag Liv's site." I even searched yesterday to see if you had those posts bundled somewhere.

    I'm sorry you had to relive all this, but happy you were nice enough to help someone going through the same thing.

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  9. Hugs, LL. I'm sorry. I found your blog due to the situation (a mutual friend told me about you) and it's so hard to believe that something like that could ever happen. I know 4 days is a blip, but it's a life-changing blip, kind of like a loss of innocence. The rest of us can't imagine having our children taken away from us but unfortunately you can.

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  10. On that score as a JFS attorney in Ohio, your story is with me every time I see an unexplained injury - how sure are we; is removal truly necessary; etc. Nothing can truly help except time & small things that help you feel normal again, I'm sure, but I hope its at least somewhat reassuring.

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  11. I am sending you a big hug. Whenever I read these post of yours I can't help getting so angry at the 'others' who made these scars and forgot you were a person with feeling. They don't have to carry what they put you through, and here years later they will never understand the impact they had. You always inspire me, especially when I remember everything you have been through. I hope you find some peace today with this.

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  12. Same as Anonymous 1 above! I stumbled across your blog during the "incident" and have not left since...I am truly so happy for all that you and JP have accomplished since and savor every word that you write. It is so weird to "know" you and not know you at the same time. Thank you for giving us the privilege of sharing your happiness and everything else. I do not have anything specific to say about that particular issue, but hope that finally expressing my gratitude, after years of silently lurking, will add a net positive to your day:-D Your humility, love for your family and resilience are all very inspiring...I will definitely thank you in person if I ever run into you in Houston.

    Btw, if you check your blog stats, I'm the one who obsessively checks your blog numerous times a day, only because your blog roll has my other favorite bloggers, and I have never bothered to set up a reader alert.

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  13. I don't know how you un-do it or get past it. The other night, after 7 years I heard someone on tv say "she died" and it hit me all over again. I sobbed from a deep place - it was as if I'd just been told for the first time that my daughter had died. Yet it has been 7 years and I still have trouble wrapping my head around the notion.

    It's all to big to process in a week, a year, or even this lifetime. As parents, we're protectors. It's just who we are.

    The emotions are so fluid, yet they never goe away.

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  14. I got goosebumps reading this. Nothing to add that everyone else hasn't said, just sending hugs. To you, and Landon and Claire too.

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  15. Hugs to you. I can't imagine what you went through, but I think of you (and it) often. I do know that when I was practicing, every time I saw child protective service numbers pop up on my caller ID, I freaked the hell out (even though it was fairly routine) for the same fear. :(

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  16. I am praying for you guys. I wasn't "around" back then, but have kind of an idea of what happened through other things you've said in posts. It sounds like a nightmare, horror story :(.

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  17. Catching up on my reader this morning, and... ugh. Knocks the wind out of you, I'm sure. But the commenters above got it right - you're brave and so kind to share your story; it's rippled out in ways that no one will ever know, and obviously it continues to do so. It sucks that it happened to you, it sucks that it continues to happen to others, but I think it's great you're able to help people by sharing.

    I identified a little bit with the x-ray incident; anytime the oven is on, anytime there is anything hot in our house, I am hyper alert, and if one of the girls comes anywhere near it, my heart hits the floor. It's a different situation, but I have those "oh please no, not again" moments too.

    Thinking of you. Thinking of this other family. Praying for you all.

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  18. Your DCFS hell is how I found your site all those years ago. Living in the Chicago suburbs all my life, I felt an instant connection to your story when amalah.com linked to it way back when. I was instantly drawn in to you, JP, Landon and your little blog. I've read religiously ever since. Because the snippets of your life make me smile, when I can see all that you have overcome to be the successful lawyer and loving mother you are. I agree wholeheartedly with your women in the workforce philosophy, I like your parenthood stance, I aspire to have the organizational skills you have, but I'm diehard procrastinator and never will. And, I have the same trashy romance affliction that you suffer from! We'd get along great! Basically, what I'm trying to say is you went through some really tough times, like many people do, but you came out the other side, and many people don't. And you're better for it. You're stronger for it. And the pain of it will still knock you on your ass every once in awhile, but you get up and dust yourself off, and bask in the joy that is your life. And that's why this perfect stranger from the Chicago suburbs comes back to this little piece of internet real estate each week to check in on how your life is going. You have a story to tell and you tell it well. Keep your head up. You are doing a fantastic job and your children are blessed to have you in their corner.

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  19. I know that parent got reassurance from your words and I know you know how much that means. Hold onto that. You were just wondering about the beautiful sense of fairness Landon has. Perhaps it came out of being in the midst of a huge injustice? Who knows what else life has in store for that wonderful little guy and his great parents?

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  20. No time to read all of these comments, but know that your writing has been a blessing to me, and I guess that blessing is the direct result of what happened, horrible though it was. Thank you for bearing it and sharing it.

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  21. ((((((((((HUGS))))))
    That's all, just hugs.

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  22. I really appreciate the fact that you shared this with us. We are here to comfort you. Lots of hugs and kisses.

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