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Let’s Start Packing

Posted Aug 11 2010 4:59am

Rabbi, we’ve been waiting all our lives for the Messiah. Wouldn’t now be a good time for Him to come?

Rabbi: We’ll have to wait for him someplace else. Meanwhile, let’s start packing.

–from Fiddler on the Roof

I guess all families, all people really, must live with the unresolved.  I feel like sometimes I go around with the anxiety of the unresolved as if it were physical; I feel it right in my stomach.  It happens a lot when I think about Nat, and also Max and Ben, but maybe moreso with Nat.  Especially now that he’s not here for most of the week, and so a lot about Nat has to be taken on faith.  I’m not so good at having faith.

Sitting here on my living room couch, with creamy sunlight splashed across the frayed armchair nearby, I thought about the things that I had to get done in the rest of the week.  Any peace that the softness of the scene could have given just shattered as I realized that the number one thing going on is Nat going to camp on Sunday.

Why do we do this to ourselves every year?  This is the third time we are sending Nat away to this camp in Colorado, and it is always an anxiety-producing proposition for us, and by us I mean me, Ned, and Nat.  Even if all the details were squared away, such as the packing of sunblock and sturdy shoes for hiking, (and by the way, they’re not), this trip is one big nightmare of worry. We send him on a plane with a teacher who knows him well.  She has to get him through airport security, a plane ride, a plane change,  into a rental car and across a mountainous highway to the camp.  And then there’s camp itself.  Extreme sports camp!!!  She’s never been there and actually this is a new location for the camp, so neither has Nat.  Same set-up though, of one-to-one counselors during the day, and the teacher with Nat during the night.

I am not going to go into all the details here because that will only make my stomach feel worse.  The thing in my head right now, that forced me to open up and start writing is just that sinister undertow of Unresolved, pulling beneath the surface.  What do I mean by “unresolved?”  I mean all the stuff I have no answers to, never a definitive, tablets-from-God certainty.  Is he alright?  Is he going to be alright?  What does alright look like when you are fairly severely disabled?  From Day One, we all wish for a manual that will tell us these things.  We read book after book, and google autism until we’re googly-eyed.

We all want to know:  am I doing the right thing?  How about this?  How about now?  What if I stop, because I’m so tired?  Why did we commit to this path?

What have I forgotten?

Why do we have to be human and flawed, and so we just end up having to hope for the best?  What if we never get the best, but only the so-so?  Maybe it’s just that the thing about my life is that I’m doomed to uncertainty, and that happier days are ones where I’m more certain.  But I don’t think I’ll ever be Sure.  And so I’m sending him on this trip, feeling like it will probably be okay, probably great, but dammit, I just won’t know until he’s back.  Meanwhile, he has to keep leaping faith, because I fly by the seat of my pants.

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