Friday, 6 July 2012

Dear Alex, three whole seconds...

July 6th 2012

Dear Alex,

As I leave today (having had a rare visit on my own with you) I watch for a while through the centre doors…it’s lunchtime, you sit, head upright, being fed your lunch. Eating, swallowing well, it’s an amazing sight.

Full of promise and how far you’ve made it.

I get to come back in again tonight to see you, Lola comes with me, some mummy and daddy time on her own. She makes herself a picnic all by herself, tuna mayonnaise sandwiches, flapjack, cucumber an orange and an apple and twiglets. She brushes her hair, gets herself in a pretty dress and stripy socks and sandals. Bless her heart, she’s growing up fast…

At first you were in your chair, but you’re tired and ask to go to bed. You seem flat, unhappy. Lola lays down beside you and we have a few laughs, but your energy ebbs low and your frown and tears overtake the small smiles. You tell Lola you love her, stroke her head, cuddle her close and cry into her hair. You kiss and you kiss her and tell me ‘this feels so weird’ referring to you and your situation.

We both try hard to lift your low spirits, but they’re too low. I lay next to you on the side the arm and hand can’t move. All I can do is cuddle you, tell you how far you’ve come. The mountain you’ve already climbed. To look back at the moment, see what you have done.

This is a part of an amazing recovery process-awareness, and I have been hoping for this for nine long months. That you know where you have to go, that you were not always like this, that the fog would lift. I did not hope for the distress, the tears, the heartache…I don’t know that I expected it to be anything else, I just hoped, and still do, it would not be so painful.

But how can it not be? When you, Alex, see where you are.

The improvements are mountains you’ve overcome, but you are unable to see it now, you feel there’s so far to go…

You shout at me when we have to leave, it’s 9.30pm, visiting finishes at 10, and I have to get back to the other kids. ‘go away, leave me!’ over and over. I do not let myself absorb it, I fight hard to not take it in. I know you’re lashing out, angry, frustrated. I repeat to you that I am here no matter what, whether you tell me to go, I will be back in everyday, I am never quitting, and neither are you.

To see you like this is torture. But when I leave, you have calmed, you sleep, and Lola is reassured that you have your lion and the teddy they bought for you. She thinks you’ll sleep well with them.

This is agony Alex, I will never know what you truly feel, I can only teeter on the outside and imagine.

But today you stood for the first time, alone, for 3 seconds. Chest out, stomach pulled in, straight, and you held it for 3 seconds. This is another first. Each week there seems to be another first, and maybe you cannot see it through your anguish to be further on, but I will remind you, and I will never quit.

I am amazed by you, you still, 10 and a half years on, blow me away Alex Wood, and I love you for better, for worse, in sickness and in health…you're not getting rid of me!

I love every inch of you, through and through, and I know our love is strong enough to fight this battle…you are healing, recovering, as agonisingly slow as it is, just imagine another nine months form here where you’ll be…

I am back in tomorrow with the kids. We’ll go out, get some fresh air, breathe, together as a family.

You’re still my everything, and am here, bound to you for an eternity.

I hope you have peace in your dreams tonight.

Me xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Dear Alex, 4th July 2012, Nine long months today...

4th july 2012

Dear Alex,

Nine months ago today…Nine whole long, agonising months.

After watching the video Jamie did for you (which PLEASE SHARE!!) I suddenly reaslised where you had come from, so I wanted to look at the positive moments, focus and refocus and soak it in...

I have wept, dried up, been given rain drops of hope and hail stone pellets of despair. I would never have thought I could make it this long nine months ago…

And life keeps going. And it keeps going without my hero, my best friend and my eternal love by my side…

And I look at you today, you are so different from the initial months in rehab. So very, very different, hoisted out of bed in a sling to sit in a wheelchair, not moving, not speaking, not opening your eyes. Longing for your touch, your voice, your words…

Now, nine months on, I have much of this. Words every so often, although speech is very unclear. Your touch all the time when I am near, your head (which drooped constantly to the right hand side-they didn’t know if you’d ever get head control back) moves purposefully to me, pressing into me. Your hand holds mine, reaches out, strokes the kids, holds me tight.

Your eyes open most of the time, although your sight is not there…

Your head has strength and control, you are even eating! Alongside the stomach peg which they still feed you through, you eat pureed meals three times a day, they sometimes try you holding the spoon, and you direct it (sometimes successfully!) to your mouth.

You are upright and walk (extremely heavily assisted) through a gym. Sometimes looking ahead, body (surf trained) standing almost tall and proud at times …taking steps on your new journey. Your upper body supporting you for short periods of time sitting unaided…Not harnessed into the wheel chair, straps everywhere to keep you forward and not flopping.

You said to me on Monday when asked what do you think about? ‘I think about you all the time’ and you frown your eyebrows and cry ‘I just want things to be like before’… you have thought processes this indicates, and can express them occasionally.

I bring in filter coffee, to smell and to make. Aided, you pour the coffee into a cafetiere, you plunge it when it’s brewed and with my help, you pour it out for us…something you did for me before, late morning at home. My special coffees made by you…sugary and frothy milk.

Esmie sat on your knee and made a clay pot with you the other day, you roll the clay with my help with your right hand, I support the arm.

The moments, the weeks that pass when you appear to not be there, and I am left wondering if this is it, you have gone? You stare into space, are unmotivated, not speaking, unresponsive, and I want to scream ‘Alex, where are you? Where have you gone?’ and drag you out. These times are hard, impossible, and I have to dig in deep to remind myself you will keep going, keep on fighting, but I never succeed in fully reassuring myself you’ll come back fighting…the hope flickers dim at these points, and my resources are tested to the ultimate limits. I groan internally and my soul fades…

Only you do reappear, you beam when you hear my voice, you hold me tight with your right arm, lift the left at the shoulder. We take it in turns, the kids and I, to massage out and coax your fingers on your left hand to uncurl.

You speak again, you laugh, you are my joy, my happiness, my hope and still, very much my Alex. These times I almost breeze through, because I think I can take anything on for just having a brief moment of a bit of you. Surely this will consciously, unconsciously come to the fore, gradually, repairing with time, love…

Doesn’t love heal? The Most High watch on, and encourage where all hope is burned, left singed souls scattered, despairing?

Aren’t you the living, breathing proof?

A product of love, purpose, and what purpose-four souls looking on, willing their daddy back.

Thank you God for this week, for your speech, delight, perseverance and smiles…

Thank you God that I truly believe, I will get almost my whole Alex back…

Things will never be the same again; we will never be the same again. But we don’t need to be scarred; burned out-we can be replenished in a very true and very different sense.

This journey for you, for me, no, I would never have accepted, but as I have to, I will tell you again and again that I am fighting for you, I LOVE you and I am, and will be eternally, yours Alex Wood…

Me xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Dear Alex- a video of you...Please take a minute guys...

Alex's best friend Jamie Bennett has been hard at work to produce a video of Alex to raise awareness and to try and gather vital funds for Alex's crucial rehabilitation...

Please take a minute to watch it, and share it please-


He still needs the support from everyone, and every penny raised is another step he can come closer to walking, talking and living at home again one day...

Thank you everyone...

Monday, 2 July 2012

Dear Alex, ice-cream pots (bear with me!) and that hope back, unfalteringly...

A 2-year-old Monty Buster...

July 2nd 2012

Dear Alex,

Analogies galore-some I had no idea where I was going with them, one worked so well, to my surprise! And relief…

Monty comes in from school, fighting, throwing his bag, clenched fists, storming. I settle the girls, let him do as he pleases for a while, spend time with the girls reading and drawing, doing puzzles, then say quietly to Monty it’d be good to chat for a minute, and we go up to his room.

I sit cross legged on the carpet, he stands, arms folded.

I ask what it is he feels is going on for him at the moment. Shrugs ‘dunno’. I reach out, he turns his back, slumps on the floor, back to me, arms, legs crossed, determined not to let me in.

I sit quietly, watching him, praying. Asking for guidance, how do I break through, how to I get him to cuddle, release some of what is eating away at him inside?

Here’s where my crap analogy comes in, but it worked! Trying to give him an object for his hurt and what has, is going on for him. I proceed: imagine a big ice cream pot, full of your favourite ice-cream, what flavour would it be? He shrugs, ‘chocolate’ Ah, good, a response! The pot is big and full of your favourite ice cream, and this was how life was for you before, when Dad was around for play fights, light sabre battles, pulling his index finger to make him fart! Punching him in his iron hard tummy and not even wincing! Then daddy had his accident. All of a sudden it was like someone came and scooped out with out asking him half his ice cream in the pot. ‘Not half’ he says, ‘they left me a crumb…’ then he breaks down, sobbing, banging his head on his knees, and I reach out and pull him so close and let him cry for a while, shhing him, telling him how painful what he is dealing with is, how extraordinarily well he is doing, he doesn’t need to not tell me, or not face it, he is safe looking in the pot and showing it to me, I will always love him no matter what.

He’s getting the analogy, this is good! As I am not sure I was! I tell him that it’s still his pot, it feels very wrong that the ice-cream was taken away without permission, and so suddenly. He lost one of his favourite things. ‘yeah, and now it’s boring, no one can stop me feeling like this, I don’t want to stop feeling like this’. I explain his anger, he has a right to show someone the almost empty pot and go ‘do you know what? This is really unfair, I want it back!’ and sometimes it’s good to show people it and say, ‘this makes me sad’, but the important thing to do, is to show it. I tell him over and over I am here as his mum, I have that responsibility and I want to look after him, when he wants to scream out ‘look, all my ice cream’s gone!’ I am here, but I am also here to love him no matter how he feels, he’s not wrong in feeling how he is.

I then say to his comment about not wanting to let people in and keeping all the pain inside that the aim of this life is to grow, only you can let yourself grow, by being open to love, guidance, talking and listening. He looks a bit puzzled (I don’t blame him!) then says ‘I didn’t realise I could change myself’.

He talked, he cried, he opened up. I had a break through with ice-cream pots, who’d have thought it?!

I feel much more positive about him, if I can just get him to realise I am here to take responsibility for how he feels, to help him, look after him, he just needs to let me help him by letting me in…

And you, you today Alex, you were really there today! I asked you what you think about, as no one is certain that thought processes are possible due to the extent of the damage. You replied, you spoke for the first time in 2 weeks apart from a good weekend last weekend, and said ‘I think about you all the time…’ you think about me! That torch light of hope is firmly on, leading the way, hope is buckled up firmly around me, and I WILL plough on through. It’s little moments like this that give me voluminous strength, makes everything worthwhile, and I will hope and I will carry on forever…

And one day, we will be back together, as one unit, you, me, the kids…today I feel this in my being.

Thank you God for this day-another one for the gratitude list!

See you tomorrow my angel,

Me xxxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Dear Alex, our son Monty Buster...

1st July 2012,

Dear Alex,

Bathtime for the kids. Monty has been angry and sad all day. Only a moment of happiness this morning when he asks ‘are we going into see Dad today?’ and I reply that Sundays are now reserved for ‘us’ time, a day of doing things around the house or seeing friends, going to church. He woops and smiles. I hide the pain of the dagger planted in my soul.

He is struggling. He cannot come to terms with this at the moment, lashing out occasionally, crying, clenching fists, and blaming everything but the actual reason for his feelings.

I wash their hair, start to massage his head, gently coaxing memories, I remind him of when he was a baby, Dad would bath him frequently, or us both together, he would scream, and the minute we plunged him in water, he’d lie still, open eyed, smiling, cooing, happy, calm. A water baby. It was often our technique to calm him down-plonk him in water! He starts to cry, and I carry on gently massaging his head, telling him I know how sad he is at the moment, that I am here for him, no matter what he feels, it doesn’t matter, it’s not his fault he feels as he does, no one is blaming him for it, and I cuddle and stroke his weeping head.

I can see he cannot talk about it, does not want to. So I probe gently at times, allowing him to let memories in about you and how you were before, silly anecdotes of things you did, you said, trying to keep the good memories alive.

I cuddle him often, today we chose a DVD to put on today, and we all snuggled up on the bed to watch it, he was cuddled so strongly into me, and made his Lego ships…he was calm, we all were, we spent 2 hours like this, cuddled, snug, warmed in love. Love is a powerful healer. It seeps in and mends brokenness, although it will take a great deal more for him to get through this I feel.

When he has his outbursts of anger I get down to his level, tell him it’s alright to feel angry, tell him why he feels angry, tell him how proud we both are of him for coping with this. But I also tell him that it’s not alright to act aggressively, we need to find ways of him channelling the anger in different, non destructive ways, and offer other solutions-punching a pillow is a favourite!

He does a lot of sport, has freedom to walk the dog on his own. I have put things in place for him, but this stage is a tough one…

I just want to cuddle him up, keep him for a while, and make it all better…but he has to go through this stage, and learn to deal with it, but not alone.

Hearing ‘I don’t want to go and see dad’ and angry shouts as we start the journey up to the hospital, I feel desperately sad, for him, that the dad he once knew, his invincible daddy is not around as he used to be, and as much as we all want it to be over, you to just be back with us, there’s so much further to go, so much longer will we have to tread this path…

I think it will do him good to not come in for a while, I do not want his childhood memories being ones of me forcing him to go to hospital when he just needs to escape it all and be a normal 8-year-old boy for a while…

How do we cross this bridge? Time, patience, finding outlets, talking and showing him how much he is loved and acknowledging how hard this is for him…

Starting the week with a still, very upset and angry Monty, I long to help him…

Me xxxxxxxxxxxx

Dear Alex, to search and behold...

Washing piles high,
Seeing you again draws nigh.
Spirits rise and spirits pour,
Bewildering in their patterns,
Emotions, can’t I just shut this door?

Lighter times, lighter thoughts,
How is it I have ended up,
Leading this life, leading it fraught?
Nothing I’ve learned, nothing I’ve been taught,
Can guide me in this,
Or numb it, as it ought.

Yearning, not futile spirals,
But whirling in bliss,
But can you really,
Had we not lead all this?

To search, behold,
This life of mine seeking to unfold
The heavenly gifts bestowed on us all,
Until we seek, until we fall
Can we perceive them,
Can we live at all?

Eternal struggle, medicine I seek,
Not pills, not escape,
You can’t, you have no choice!
Sheer determination of
Harnessing my inner voice

Training it when it screams
‘This is too large;
I am too small!’
To breathe a breath of thanks, and receive

Naming my blessings, how can I count them all?
How can I count the ways I am blessed?
In all this,
Despite all this,
I grind in my heels, rigid,
Holding on, skin of my teeth.

Blinding is this journey,
Heading destination unknown
I am learning, however, gratitude speech.
Whenever I look, and it seems desert and bleak,

His hand is upon me,
His refuge I seek.
Something I find, 

And I, me, I smile on the inside.