It is a continual struggle to find time to slow down, be in the moment, and get grounded. Further, it’s much easier to avoid confronting the reality I’m feeling than to confront the layers of loss we have experienced. Part of me feels guilty for any complaining about pre-accident days. At this point, I would trade anything to return to that normalcy and I’m sure Hanna would too. Post-accident, all of our perspectives and emotional dispositions have changed significantly.
This past week remained emotionally heavy. On Wednesday, school started for all four girls. First grade, sixth grade, and Hanna’s grade (whatever that is). I struggled with the decision between virtual home school vs. in school with coronavirus risk. With two parents working full-time, there was not much of a choice. And then, preparation for school includes new structures for safety precautions, a new earlier schedule, and papers, papers, papers galore!
With regard to Hanna, after Neuropsych testing and an in-school OT evaluation, we agreed that it’s best for Hanna to be at school in the mornings, taking three classes, including honors English. The afternoons consist of catching up online with classes from last year and attending all of her therapy, doctor, and prosthetic appointments.
As expected, the adjustment to school was difficult for Hanna. She was irritable and after three days, complained that teachers ask her the same thing over and over; i.e, How are you feeling? How are you doing? Admittedly, Hanna wants to scream, “How do you think I’m doing?!” and reported that it’s “getting old.” I try to remind her that their questions are out of care and concern for her and seeing her in the flesh is important for those who have been praying for her since the accident occurred.
Hanna is the only wheelchair user in her school and she hates being different. She desperately wants to feel like a normal teenager and had another grief session after her first day at school, saying how much “it sucks” to be different. She reports feeling lonely since her closest friends are doing virtual learning but I felt it was important to have some normalcy in her life. It is hard to always be the bad guy pushing her to do things she does not want to do.
This past week, I had an initial intake with a Veteran who had been in a car accident seven years ago. His paralysis was more severe than Hannas and it was interesting to talk with him about his journey. He lives alone with his son and has overcome significant obstacles, none of which are relevant to Hanna. He recalled that the process of accepting the reality of his disability was hard and took time. While Hanna and our family struggles to accept Hanna’s disability and the subsequent changes we are forced to make, hearing someone else's process of healing was meaningful and hopeful. I recognize the invitation for growth and tell myself and Hanna that accepting vulnerability provides opportunity to increase strength, asking for and accepting help offers an opportunity to care, and keeping the faith, means all things are possible; For God promises to give strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak (Isaiah 40:29).