Talk about a strange mix of emotions.
Laughing. Crying. Grieving. Rejoicing. Looking ahead with great anticipation.
Mr. Tony and I have had a beautiful few days together.
It hasn't been all roses and butterflies, but I've been learning a lot about caring for him and we've been getting to know one another. We're already getting quite attached. Oh, Friday...
It's funny how, upon arriving here, I really thought I had already grieved this place and the damage done to my kids. I know the ugly history in more detail than any human can handle in one sitting and didn't figure it could get much worse.
But looking into the face of a 40 pound 14 year old, whose rotten teeth are the only indication that he is not, in fact, five. And smelling the stench of decay every time he sweetly sings, and every time he spits…out of frustration, or sometimes for fun (and even smelling it as I lay down to nap this afternoon and realizing the smell is on my face, right under my nose, from interacting with him). For these things, and so many more, I know now I will continue to grieve.
It didn't have to be this way.
But this is the way it is.
Though so much has been stolen from him, there is still much to recover. His life has value.
And he has so much potential to grow.
He is surprising me constantly.
Yesterday I got to observe a staff person feeding him lunch, and then I got take a turn feeding him as well. Tony was an absolute gentleman sitting in his tiny blue chair waiting for his food. He LOVES his food, so I suspected he might get a little worked up when they brought in his tray. But he was patient and polite.
And get this! He helped to hold his spoon, AND he drank out of an open cup with help. I was very impressed.
Today the teacher from Tony's class came in and and showed me some of the things he has been working on. You would not believe how focused he is and how hard he works. I love his teacher because she clearly loves him and knows him well. She sang some of his favorite songs and helped him to do the actions. Tony was able to identify his foot when the song talked about feet.
And, perhaps the most amazing thing he did was to stack a set of rings (you know, like the fisher price rings we all have in our house). He knew just how to do it. And if ever he would accidentally put one out of order, he would take the stack apart and make it right.
After the teacher left, he and I did some dancing and singing of our own. We must have sung Father Abraham about forty times. He loved it! He would rock back and forth, adding a little flourish as he would tilt his head to the right and to the left along with his body. The boy's got rhythm! He especially seemed to like the part where we put out our "right hand, left hand, right foot, left foot." I will definitely tuck that song away as one of his favorites.
This morning, at the end of our visit, Tony was getting tired. He was sitting in front of me and we were facing one another. He laid his head in my lap, and I combed my fingers through his hair. To my happy surprise, he loved that and any time I stopped, he would pick up my hands and put them back on his head requesting more. He is such a little love!
At the end of our afternoon visit today, Tony was sitting in my lap, facing me, and I was singing to him the song I've sung to Sam every day since I've met her, He Knows My Name.
Tony melted into a puddle of pure sweetness, making perfect eye contact and trying his very best to sing along, so softly, in his best voice, "ooh ahh ba ba".
When it was time to say goodbye, he leaned in to the caretaker who was about to take him away, and started in again, singing softly, "ooh ahh ba ba", to which she replied, "I'm sorry, Tony. Only mama knows that song."
He walked backwards to the elevator, holding onto only one hand, watching his mommy all the way.
I say it over and over every day, so I might as well say it here, too. He is such a good boy. I am blessed to love him.
Lots of love to all of you.
|"Row, row, row your boat…"|
|"…we all fall down!|
|"Kiss me, Mom!"|
|"A little to the left…"|
|Beautiful teacher. Perfect student.|
|Are you kidding me? This is actually blowing my mind.|
|Laughing and singing a song.|
|"Are you proud of me, Mom?"|
|"So, let's all praise the Lord. Right arm..."|