June, Thu 9 - Wed 15
Over two weeks ago, on WEEK 67, my lasts words to myself were:
"I know... I know... hang in there. One day at a time, Juana, one day at a time".
Well, I hung in there, but as the days passed I was more and more startled.
After all, things were getting more complicated with Alonso, and I was beginning to
worry that maybe his strange behavior and screaming, since he started speech
therapy and daycare,was really something to worry about. Furthermore, his speech
therapist, who was baffled by his crying during the first couple of sessions,
suggested he be diagnosed in a center by behavior specialists. And at daycare
we were called to pick him up several times, because of his major meltdowns.
It was becoming obvious that daycare might not be an option for us.
Alright, so with no daycare it would be impossible for Sandra to get that day job.
That day job I have longed for her to have, since forever. And without a day job,
the possibility of becoming more independent goes out the window for Sandra.
As for me, the possibility of having a little freedom goes out that same window.
However, regardless of own personal issues or dreams, our main concern is and
always will be, Alonso. PERIOD.
So, what was going on? What was causing this change in behavior? Why were we
told that he was showing signs of autism, at daycare? Was I in denial? Or was it
that I had lived this before with my own son, Chris, when he was that age and
couldn't express himself? And what about, Alberto, my grandson? He was also a
late talker with major meltdowns. Both, Chris and Alberto, are FINE. Actually, both
would be considered gifted.
So should I worry? Of course I should! My niece and goddaughter, Laura, has autism.
Tell me, how could I ignore what was in the back of my head all of these days.
Although, our dear Laura, has a deep and devastating level of autism, Alonso’s
could me a highly functional one, or maybe a syndrome I am not familiar with.
My sister, Cary, with all her beautiful children. Laura, her firstborn started showing signs of autism at the age of two. I admire my sister for all she's been through with Laura, and all she has done to provide the best possible care for her. I love you sis. I love you kids!
Wondering about autism, led Sandra to watch heart breaking videos of autistic
children during meltdowns in You-tube. One night, I laid in bed turning and
twisting, as I heard the voices of screaming children once more, coming from the
livingroom. I had to get up and stop this cycle of insanity, caused by fear. I asked
a crying Sandra not to watch any more videos, it didn’t help Alonso and it was
making me a nervous wreck. Because to me, Alonso, behaved perfectly normal. It
could be nothing but TANTRUMS. I told Sandra, her brother did the same. No,
worse! He’d throw himself on the floor in public and cry or scream uncontrollably
while kicking his legs when I didn’t understand him, or I’d say NO to something
he wanted. I saw many eyebrows raising around me during those years. Anyway, it
would be best to wait until his evaluation at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta,
on the 29th of this month. We should take it from there.
Meantime, in Spain, my husband was still having trouble with his knee and his
sleep, or should I say lack of sleep. That stubborn, stubborn man! He is worse than
I am at ignoring symptoms. Why didn’t he take care of himself? All I had heard
lately was how little he had slept, how little he slept, AND how little he slept.
Yet he did nothing about it. That upset me. It upset me VERY much. Pepe had
worked 240 hours during the month of May, and wasn’t sleeping. Did Pepe think
he was Superman? I had enough with what I had at home, I didn't need any extra
worries. We ended up arguing about it and I told him to work less and GO TO
THE DOCTOR so he could end with his severe insomnia. I had to get tough and
say, “And don’t call me until you do.”
I was miserable not talking to my husband for three days. M-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e, but
I didn't give in to my desire of hearing his voice. And on that last day of WEEK 68,
Wednesday the 15th, the phone rang. I had already talked to my daughter, Mayra,
about 2 hours before, so when I saw her number on the caller I.D., again, I was
hoping it was Pepe, regardless if he had gone to the Doctor, or not. But, it wasn't
him. It was Mayra, and when she said with a very sad tone, "Mami.... I...... I........"
my heart sunk thinking, Pepe, had gotten ill over our stupid argument and he
was in the hospital. Alarmed, I cut in asking, "What! What's the matter?" And she
went on to let me know that she had just read on facebook that her ex-coworker
and dear friend, Terry, had lost her husband, Kevin, that morning during his sleep.
Oh, dear Lord, no! This couldn't be happening to sweet Terry! The woman that
shared so many hours next to my daughter, lovingly taking care of the infants at
the daycare where they worked. My heart broke for Terry. My heart also broke
for Mayra, because I knew that if she could have gotten in an airplane at that
moment to be with Terry she would have. Before hanging up, I reassured Mayra, that
I would get Terry’s phone number, which she couldn’t find, and that I also
would get in contact with Terry. And that’s exactly what I did. The rest of the day
I couldn’t stop thinking about Terry. I also couldn’t stop thinking about an “if”.
What if anything happened to Pepe? I am so, so far away…
An hour hadn’t passed when, Sandra, who was working, interrupts the daze I was in
by calling, and asks me to pick up Alonso at daycare. At that very
moment, I knew daycare was no longer an option. We weren't asked not to bring
him back. I made the decision.
He was playing when I picked him up. He smiled and ran to me. He kissed me, he
hugged me, and energetically waived goodbye to the teachers with a big smile on
his face. I put him in his car-seat and drove home singing the alphabet song, with
Alonso singing along the few letters he can pronounce and humming the rest.
Once home, he dashed up the stairs, asked for juice and brought a ball so we could
play soccer. Oh, kiddo with the big brown eyes, how I love you...
Later that afternoon, Pepe, called me to ask about Terry, see how Alonso was doing,
and to let me know he had just picked up a prescription the Doctor had ordered
for his insomnia. I thanked God. It was a relief to hear his voice. I don't ever want
to hang up the phone upset at Pepe again, and I don't want to be apart any more.
When I got in bed that last day of WEEK 68, I moved over to Pepe's side of
the bed for a minute, and imagined him sleeping in Alberto's room so many
thousands of miles away. I still had the dark night ahead, but for him the sun's
rays would soon be breaking through the window blinds. I returned to my side.
I pondered over this week's events one by one, and my heart started racing.
Especially, when I reviewed my decision of taking a week off work to get a head
start in transferring Food Stories to Microsoft Word, and turn it into a palpable
book. That week had started this morning, and I was afraid I had chosen the wrong
week to do it. Could this be, once again, a bad plan on my part?
It was best to close my eyes and think about Christopher's portfolio show. Yes, that
was best. Tomorrow, I had something to look forward to; I would see my son,
Christopher Alvarez, officially graduated as a 2D animation and Visual Development
Artist. A dream come true for the mother of the little boy who didn't speak until
he was four years old, and raised eyebrows when he threw tantrums...