One of the good things about blogging is that you don't have to guess what life was like a year ago. You can go look it up. I guess that is most of the reason why I am here, because, straight A student aside, my memory is terrible. But I do want to write down in more detail what the past year or so has been like. For now, I will only go into it a little, start thinking about it.. only write a little of what I eventually want to get down on .. err, paper.. so to speak.
A year ago, I was officially thrown into the world of special needs parenting. I feel like I am starting to pull out of that a little bit now. It is hard to explain.. my son is still special, yes. But I am so used to him now that it is suddenly becoming 'normal' to me. I have read other people's special needs parenting blogs lately, now that I have found myself in this strange blogging world- and their special kids seem so much more special to me than my own, not necessarily because their children are more special, they might be less or more disabled (if that is even really possible to measure) but I think it is simply because it is foreign to me. I wonder if other parents, feel this same way .. if their "special needs" children start to feel more like 'normal' as time goes by and they become accustom to their child. Maybe for some.
Anyway, a year ago life was far different. I was not only a newly special needs parent, I was also a newly single parent courtesy of Uncle Sam. My husband was deployed to Afghanistan on February 11th. The first few weeks, I won't lie, I had a cosmopolitan in hand almost every night after the kids were in bed. Don't judge me. March came, and it wasn't much better, though the need for cosmopolitans became less and less. With March came Liam's first diagnoses: Apraxia of speech, developmental dyspraxia, fine-motor dyspraxia, hypotonia. The doctor said Liam's prognosis was good, though he wouldn't answer me if he thought Liam would ever speak. At the time, all I wanted was an answer to that question. Now I know this doctor was probably the best on this front, because no one really can know the answer to that question. Some doctors or therapists since have told me Liam will always need alternative communication like sign language or an augmentative communication device and some have told me he will speak. I don't believe either. No one knows. In this moment, I am not looking for that answer anymore. But who knows when it might creep back up. Now my question for his therapist is," tell me when it is unrealistic to think it possible that he will never speak solely. "
April & May I can't remember much. We started going to church in April. I was in school too and likely I was studying, finishing exams, etc. I got a call from the commander's wife one day, leaving church. She read me a script, and prefaced with, "this might be hard to hear. It is upsetting news." So she read the script, which I don't remember but basically all it said was there was a helicopter crash in the unit and there were casualties in my husband's company. The unconfirmed casualty number was 10.
Wait, uh, WHAT ? 10 ! In one company? And I thought, well, shit, there are only about 20 people per company. All the phones were on lockdown over there, as well as all the computer connections, basically there was no communication between husbands and wives for three. eternally. long. sleepless. days. All of us wives here at home knew that among us were new widows. Most of us spent the next few days crying, praying, pleading, on the phone with each other or at army briefs. There was a sick sort of comfort we gave to each other, because we would say to one another, "It couldn't be your husband, don't worry, it wasn't him," while we really only selfishly hoped our own husband wasn't one of the dead... because, if you talked to everyone in the company, when you saw all of them sitting in the chapel for the briefing, when you really hoped it wasn't all of their husbands, then it would be your own. We felt this guilt as if Hope had some power to change what had already occurred. At some point (and I don't remember at which point) it was cleared up that not all 10 casualties were from my husband's company. I believe the truth turned out to be 4 casualties from my husband's E company and 6 from A company.. all from my husband's unit. (though I will have to ask my husband and possibly edit this later) The structure goes smallest to largest: company, unit, brigade, division. After the 3 loudest silent days on Earth, I finally spoke with him. It was a relief in part. But also a great sad, because he had known all 10 of the fallen men, a few well, some only acquaintances and One. One was his squad leader, someone he respected, admired, One he was close to. I don't know much more than that of their relationship. My husband hasn't ever wanted to speak much more of him than that. He told me he was a dedicated family man, with 4 children and a wife.
A few months later, there were more casualties. Notification was handled a bit better that time around.
Time went on, we went to visit family in Texas, and in Colorado during the summer. My husband still in the mountains of war as we visited the mountains for fun. Things started changing so much with Liam. When Judah (my husband) left.. Liam was still just the little boy with a speech delay. Now he was disabled. After our vacation Liam started school in September for the first time. My husband missed taking Liam to his first day of school. I don't know if he regrets that.. I know I would, had I missed it. We hadn't expected him to attend school so soon, but now that he was diagnosed with disabilities, he would start school early. Monday-Friday in an integrated special ed class, and speech therapy 5 times per week, occupational therapy 3 times per week, physical therapy 2 times per week. I learned techniques for his therapy to implement at home, read books about his challenges, and another language, American Sign Language, while my husband was away, watching Afghani nationals pick up trash. Yeah, thanks Uncle Sam. I need my husband home damn it, his son needs him here, you can find someone else to watch people pick up trash.
Judah made friends with some of the local Afghani's whom he supervised. He says they spoke much of their families, and brought pictures of their wives and children to show to Judah. He says he always treated the Afghani's with respect, and considered them friends. He also says that some of his fellow soldiers did much less. I wish Judah would write about this.. to remember. I enjoy reading his words.....
Sometime in September or October Liam's speech therapist told us about a program in Michigan, a doctor who specialized in his disorder whom we could go visit and have her assess and treat Liam. Dr. Nancy Kaufmann. At this point in Liam's life, he was, non-verbal. No if ands or buts about it.. my little boy couldn't utter a word.. not even really a syllable. He had a few words come and go.. but none thought to stay....
Now this story will have to continue another day, for now, it is Intermission.