I spent yesterday doing spring cleaning. I opened the back door to let our pets come and go, switch out the house air, and just enjoy the warmth before the bugs swarm. I did some hard core cleaning on the big light over my kitchen table. When I was done, I discovered I probably broke it. It won’t turn on anymore because apparently the dust had become part of the circuitry and removing that delicate structure caused delumination. I also have an old banged up silver-plate water pitcher that I use to hold my wooden spoons. I really only clean it up once a year. I did that yesterday and I’d forgotten how cute it is when properly cleaned.
My older daughter has struggled her entire life. Things that are easy for others are difficult for her. She has Asperger’s Syndrome occurring with anxiety and mood disorders, depression, and ADD (for good measure). She’s a trove of diagnoses. Her moods and feelings and actions generate from a different place than mine or Jay’s or most others.
She is 11 months older than Z. And where Alex struggles, Z was charmed. Alex spent her 15th birthday inpatient in a psychiatric hospital. Z’s 15th birthday was so standard-issue I can’t remember the details. For the past 10+ years, Alex’s life has been a tornado of medication, serious self-harm, doctors, counselors, trips to the emergency room, and attempted suicide.
The truth is, on some deep level, I have long understood the outcome of my life might include the loss of a child. It just wasn’t Z. For anyone that raises an emotionally complicated child, this isn’t ground-breaking news. This is standard issue life.
Last week Alex was very upset with me. With others. With life. She couldn’t see how love could overcome differences in opinion. She was passionate about her stand. I understood her need. I wanted so desperately to drive love, above all things, into her brain. Into her soul. I tried rationalizing. She didn’t buy it. After two days we came to a stale mate on the subject.
In her frustration and anger she told me she was sorry that it was Z that was gone and not her. She was accusing me of having that sentiment. In the moment there was (and is) complicated traumatic grief she can’t articulate. Were the feelings mine or hers? She didn’t know. And, right then, it didn’t matter; Our lives are woven together.
I love my arduous daughter with the same urgency I love my easy daughter. My complicated daughter has trouble expressing complicated thought. The minutia of her feelings are so intertwined that all individual colors turn gray and come out lumped together.
She’s had a life full of internal pain that isn’t easily assuaged. Adding in complicated grief is a weight I can’t quite comprehend.
Because her emotions don’t display in the typical way, it’s easy for me to forget I’m not the only one in my house so deeply broken. She watched her step-dad slowly move from a strong man to a wheel-chair bound man ravaged by cancer. She grieved for the father that doted on her starting her first grade. She grieves for her sister, the alter-ego she put on a pedestal and idolized above everyone else in the world.
Today she sent me a trailer for a movie with a strong female lead. It’s an action movie where a mother and her daughters are victim to a home invasion and the mother turns the tables on the bad guys and takes control of the situation. It comes out on mother’s day. She thinks we should see it together. Obviously we will.
Yesterday while I was busy cleaning/breaking my kitchen light and shining my spoon holder, she was dusting the mantel and vacuuming the family room and cleaning the bathroom vanity.
She worked along side me to clean things up, looking toward a different spring.