Monday, February 27, 2012

A well-timed distraction

Luckily, after Nina came by to tell E that she was leaving for New York (in an hour) and abandoning us, we had something exciting waiting for us. On Friday, E's turn had finally come up to borrow the space sack.

The space sack, you wonder? As had I. I didn't know what we were getting into, exactly, but E's science teacher assembles these enrichment kits for her students to sign up for on weekends. We loved the nature pack and we're on the waiting list for it again. E had been waiting and waiting and waiting for her turn with a space sack.

The doorknob was ready for Monday: one space sack and one yoga mat.

We had a bunch of books to read about space. Did you know that the moon is a quarter the size of the earth? I thought it was smaller. And Pluto is smaller than Earth's moon. Who knew? Then we took a constellation chart outside and identified a few recognizable guys, like Orion. But better than all of that was the Star Walk app we downloaded on her teacher's recommendation. All of a sudden we had every story of every star in our hands. We held the iPad up to the sky and found Gemini and Mars and things I'd never heard of before. We clicked in deeper and started reading names like Pleiades and Andromeda and I told her the story of Perseus, swinging Medusa's head and freeing Andromeda and marrying her. Those stars tell ancient love stories, I said. She didn't find a lot of romance in snake hair.

It was so cold last night, and her hair was still damp from her bath, and it was bedtime. But I had to force her to come inside. She just wanted to study the stars.

I have a new job when I grow up, she announced after I turned off her lamp and brushed one last kiss across her hair. I'm going to be an astronaut.

"That's fantastic, babe. Girls who want to be scientists are very special, and you're smart enough to do just about anything if you try. So I think you'll be an amazing astronaut. Just blow me a kiss from space, okay?" She giggled, and turned into her pillow.

As I padded out of her room, grateful that a day filled with many of her tears and anxiety-induced stomachaches and promises I offered and begged her to trust on faith that we'd figure out another good plan for her care, ones I knew she wanted to trust but couldn't see how to do so, ones that left her feeling empty and scared, ones I wanted to draw tangible before her eyes with answers I don't yet possess had finally all come to an end, she called me back to her.

Mama? she called, sounding fully awake again. 


"Yes, love?"

Mama, but if I'm an astronaut, can I still be a princess when I grow up?


"Yes, you can, babe. If anyone can, it's you. They'll just build you a special helmet with a pocket inside for your tiara."

She giggled a little, and almost instantly fell into a deep sleep.

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Thank you, friends, for your kindness and prayers and offers to carpool and pickup and yell at unfocused wayward college grads. We have a patchwork of plans that cover the next two weeks, and E doesn't seem to mind at all, since I accepted a rash of favors and she has more afterschool playdates lined up than the world has ever seen. We still don't have any vision for the next permanent solution, so keep up with your really lovely prayers and encouragement and brainstorming and word-of-mouthing, please. They make me feel much better, and so loved. I'm weary and a little panicky and about to lose my husband for a week, so love really helps.
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