It has been a long time since I’ve been here. I have missed it.
This past Sunday, Grace turned fourteen years old. That day, she had a lacrosse game (her team won, yay!). That night, we got to dig in to her birthday dinner: she requested steak, pierogis, potato latkes, avocadoes, and, for dessert, eclairs. This list of items makes me smile, as it wraps up both sides of her family heritage, as well as her now-favorite pastry, the preference for which was locked in on our recent trip to France during spring break. She opened her presents – a pair of vintage-style sunglasses from Kali, and a lapis lazuli ring Jason picked out for her (“ooh, so pretty” she said – something, I admit, I once would have sworn she’d never say, that time during her tomboy years when the idea of being or wearing anything “pretty” was almost offensive to her.) In a few months, she graduates from middle school and will start high school in the fall.
This past year has tested our family’s ability to adjust – my going back to work full-time has been gratifying and has restored a sense of order and worth that I had begun to sense was sorely lacking, but it’s busied things up a whole lot in our house. And, for the past several months, we’ve been trying hard to find all the best ways to support my parents as my father battles mightily and with seemingly unwavering optimism through a thoroughly daunting chemotherapy regimen. Meantime, the basement apartment needs a new coat of paint to make way for our next tenant, the girls’ spring schedules are impossibly full of lacrosse, soccer, swimming, and doctor’s appointments… the world spins on.
In the midst of it all, Kali and Grace take it in turns to be awful and lovely to one another. Grace still loves to read. To spend time with her friends. To tutor young kids. To listen to music. She’s focused, thoughtful, private, hard-working, supportive, athletic, and funny. My list could keep going, of course, but as lists don’t tend to tell much of a story, I don’t imagine it would be all that interesting to you, readers. The point, really, is to say that here, in the week Grace turns fourteen… I’ve been thinking a lot about what to write. And I’ve had a hard time coming up with anything. And here’s why: This is a blog about my perspective on raising a deaf daughter with CIs. But we have come to a place where I have to really stretch my mind pretty far to find anything at all to say about the “deaf” and “CI” parts of my parenting perspective. Does my heart nearly jump into my throat when, during a lacrosse game, she gets tripped and goes flying across the turf, and I can’t tell if she’s certain of the location of both of her processors? Sure. Do I still have to go to 504 meetings each year (yes) to talk about the accommodations she should have in school (if it were up to her, none, although I still reserve the right for her to use an FM system, sit front and center, and have closed captioning for material presented in audio). Am I really frigging psyched that the high school she’ll be attending next year offers ASL as a language option, and that she’s switching from Spanish to, as she told her English teacher recently, “Learn the language of her people”? Heck, yeah. But these are momentary snippets, they’re anecdotes, not issues. They don’t dominate our lives, or keep me up at night, or make it to the top of the priority list.
Grace is Grace. Home is home. Life is life. I have no doubt that there will be times when new implant-related worries creep back into the forefront. Last year’s internal device failure is still pretty fresh in my trauma-bank, and the once-distant but now creepingly close moment of her departure for college brings sporadic anxiety about unheard fire alarms in dorm rooms and gigantic lecture halls. But really, right now, all I see when I look out my car window as I write, watching Grace and her lacrosse team practice, is a pretty cool fourteen year old.