Sunday, December 6, 2020

Race to the Finish

It was a race. A race to the finish. It took a while to explain to Noa that he needed to run to the finish line. To cross the line. To run with the other children.
Noa loves to run. He's actually quite fast.
With his tall, slender body we figured he would be a good runner. Or at least we hoped. We were looking for a healthy outlet for his seemingly neverending energy.

We enrolled in a local track club hoping that Noa would fall in love with Track and Field like his father and I had.

Noa enjoyed running but the crowds and all the parent around made him shy and confused. He didn't see the start line or the finish line. The coach was kind and patient and kept trying to talk with him. Eventually, we figured that it would be better if hubby or I ran with Noa, to keep him focused and help him see the finish line.

To be on the field with the children, we had to don special safety jackets, normally reserved for coaches or race staff. But this was also the jacket given to parent with children with special needs. To let people know that we belonged there. With Noa.

The first race was terrible. Noa ran, but he ran like he wasn't sure, not at all like the confident kid I'd seen streak across the same field days before. He was confused. There was music playing in the distance, the clank of bells for the race across the field, dogs barking. It was too much. He couldn't stay in his lane, he wouldn't finish. 

When we finally got him off the field we took a break, we were all stressed, mostly because this looked like something we were NOT going to be able to do. It took one year of one on one swim lessons to get Noa to learn basics. It took an amazing swim teacher with the patience of a saint. It was daunting and honestly, overwhelming to have to start from the very beginning with something that seemed so simple. 
JUST RUN. That's all. See the start? Start here. See the end? Run to there! Simple, right?

As with anything with a child with ASD what we see and hear may not be so very black and white to them. There was no 'why' to this task. Why should I run from this white line to the other white line? There is no reason. This is what I saw in Noa's face. There was no good reason. We WANTED him to run, but he saw no purpose in the exercise.

So like anything, we had to fall back and determine if this was "right" for him. What is the purpose? Are we here cause we are still trying to maintain the dream of "normalcy"? So we can say that our child plays football/baseball/basketball, etc? Are we continuing to press upon him our dreams and goals?

We left that day, with little pieces of paper giving us Noa's finishing times....dead last in everything. 

The next week, on Friday night, Noa asked "Are we going to track on Saturday?"
I was shocked as I assumed that he didn't care for it.
"Why, do you want to run tomorrow?"
He tilted his head, looked down at drawings and said, "Yes. I have track."
So with that decision made, we were off to track again the next morning.

I donned my bright yellow security jacket along with my hubby. We decided who would run along side Noa and who would be at the finish line to guide him.

We were put in lane 8, the outside lane which would allow me to run along side him.

I watched as the coach went to explain to Noa to run TO his daddy waving at him at the finish line. 

Noa responded with a random question and coach patiently answered and told him again what to do.

On Your Marks! 
(Noa wasn't)
Get Set! 
(Noa wasn't)
The gun went off and Noa started more than a second after. 
I started running along with him.
"Come On Noa! Lets run to daddy!"
He ran, seeing his dad yelling at the finish line. 
His little legs became a bit faster.
All the other children started crossing the finish line.
We were still running, fast but not fast enough.
Noa was fixated, ran and crossed the finish line.
The children cheered for him.
The race staff applauded. 
Noa was happy. 
He was liking this attention. 
I was winded....(Didn't realize how out of shape I was!)

Noa proudly took his little paper, showing his time and his position (last). But he held onto that paper.
It was his.
He raced and he made it. He enjoyed it.
The day ended and we packed up to go home.
Noa still held on to his slip of paper, announcing his last-ness.
But to him, it was a paper that showed he won.
He finished.
We all made it over another hurdle.
Last place but another first. 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

I'm Not Your Superwoman

I’m an 80’s baby (ok FINE, a 70’s baby). Point is, I’m old and have an appreciation for “old” music. One of my favorites to sing in the shower was a ballad by Karyn White, called ‘Superwoman’. I would belt out the lyrics, never understanding what they meant but I loved the “I’m Not Your Superwoman” chorus. Fast forward almost 25 years later and I find myself thinking about those lyrics. Not because the song was catchy (it was) but because I realized that trying to be that “superwoman” is impossible, unreachable and a very dangerous thing to aspire to. 

We have the unfortunate position as moms (and dads!) to think that we should be EVERYTHING at once. A great mom, a great wife, a great employee, a great friend, a great community leader….Well, hate to bust your bubble folks...It ain't possible. The one “good” thing that happened out of our COVID lockdown was the ability to retire the idealistic cape of Superwoman and being able to retire into the world of “this is all I can do for now”. 

We find ourselves in a distressing and complicated world right now. Watching the hate and pandemic spread across our home has been difficult to say the least. I’ve had so many sleepless nights, anxiety and survivors guilt galore.

It’s been hard on so many, the home schooling, the uncertainty of tomorrow and the fear. Throughout it all, we have had to adapt to our new “COVID normal”.

I would leave early in the morning like normal, this time wearing scrubs, a mask and hat. Don and doff my PPE all day long and then come home to decontaminate in the garage and take a shower before touching anything or anyone. 

My poor husband was left in the wilds of home with a little one with ASD and ADHD trying to “home school”. 

We continued slogging along for the last seven months. During that time we re-discovered how chill life could be when you don’t have things to do or places to go. For seven months there were no birthday parties, cookouts, swim or track practice. No movies, no date nights, no dinners. All the outside noise was gone, leaving just us behind. Long walks or family bicycle rides replaced the usual Saturday errands. Everything was stripped back down to the basic essence. It was actually quite nice. 

I started writing again (not here but a book!) and hubby and I made plans for the next step in life. 

Soon our COVID normal was shattered by the resumption of the “regular” normal. Our numbers went down, schools opened back up and things started to go back to a slightly slower pace. Coming out of lockdown was like waking up from a long hibernation. We are now edging back to the somewhat hectic pace of afterschool activities, rushing for pick up and grocery store runs. Days aren’t consumed by PPE wash downs and COVID scares. 

So now I find myself having to decide on who I am going to be again. I’ve had the opportunity to sit in the comfort of knowing that there is NOTHING to do and I loved it. I had limits on what I could offer which allowed me to go back to things that made ME happy without apology or interruption. I’ve read books, listened to music and I've done NOTHING but watch Noa blow bubbles for hours. Know what I decided???? IT’S GREAT!!! So after 7 months of intermittent lockdowns and still living through unprecedented times, I’ve decided to strip off the mask and stop being ALL.

I’m not going to be a great everything. Sometimes I forget things, sometimes I will say “no” to things (full stop, no explanation needed). Sometimes I will need a nap or self care or family down time. It all ain’t gonna get done. Our COVID numbers are thankfully low, I get to go back to less PPE and put on real “clothes” to go to work now. However, when I go into my closet, that silly Superwoman cape will sit right there where I left it. I’m not your superwoman. I’m not pretending to be. I’m flawed and I don’t care that the world sees it...Please snatch the pedestal away cause I’m not standing on it. If you’ve learned anything about me please remember...I DON’T have it all figured out, I WILL NOT pretend to have my *ish together and I’m going about life and learning as I go. Be kind to yourself and do me a favor….BURN your cape. Like the great Anita Baker sang…”I’m Giving You the Best That I Got”. No more, no less. 

(Sang it, Karyn!)

Saturday, January 11, 2020

What We NOT Gonna Do

I was going to start out apologizing for not writing these past several months but you know what? I’m giving myself a pass. A moment of grace. I can’t do it all. I DON’T do it all. I’m not a supermom, superwoman or anything of the sort. I don’t have all my stuff together and you know what? That is OK. I forgive myself for my shortcomings. I forgive myself for not being able to fully juggle a full time work schedule, being a wife and the OVERTIME work of being a mom of an amazing boy with additional needs.

For any moms/dads or carers out there that need to hear this…give yourself a moment of grace. Realize and recognize that it is OK to feel lost, broken, exhausted and overwhelmed. You’re a human, not a robot.

I took a break from being on social media and writing because I was realizing that sometimes those platforms create these ridiculous and fabricated “lives” that make others pine away for perceived perfection.

I got lots of nice comments on my blogs and posts and then I realized that I had become one of those people. The one that portrayed an air of perfection when nothing was further from the truth.

So I stopped posting and took a moment to look at what I am trying to achieve.

I write and expose my life because I don’t want anyone out there to feel alone or like a failure cause you know what, I fail too…DAILY.

I’ll wake up with the best intentions to “Do better” and end up going to sleep with the same unachieved plan.

I have tried whiteboards, calendars, planners and lists and each one is a testament to my inability to get my Sh*t together.

My good girlfriends decided recently that instead of doing a “Vision Board” or focusing on a “To Do” List we are going to be honest and raw and support each other in our “Things we Don’t Do” list.

What better way to show each other support and solidarity than in vocalizing and uncovering our failures??

So you know what?

I don’t make my bed in the morning. I think it’s a waste of time. No one is going to see it and it makes it more accessible for when I need to collapse into it…

I don’t moisturize my hands like I should. More than fifteen years of hospital sanitizer and scrubbing for surgery my hands are rougher than sandpaper but my husband is used to the pain I inflict by touching him.

I don’t cook anymore. It used to bring me joy and now having to figure out the time to shop, meal plan and cook makes me anxious, so you know what? Meal plan delivery service it is! (Thanks Soulara!)

I don’t take care of my mental health as well as I should. I’m working on it but it is definitely a work in progress…

I don’t separate my laundry past “dark” and “non dark” clothes. I purposely don’t have white stuff so I don’t have to deal with the drama of laundry segregation more than that…

I don’t write as much as I want to or should. I let the fear of being “real” pollute my creativity. I am regularly paralysed by the fear of “what if ‘they’ don’t like it”. I’ve realized now that I’m writing to heal and to help and if I do both in the process than that is a big ol fat win.                        

So you know what, let 2020 be the year of ‘What you Ain’t Gonna Do’. Be happy with what you won’t have time for. Embrace and accept what you won’t get around to. Be real, be authentic and most importantly, give yourself a break. You deserve it. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

One Hour

This morning wasn’t any different than any other morning.

My alarm went off. I got up, hurriedly getting myself ready, careful not to make too much noise so I don’t wake him.

Last night was bad, again. He was up at 2am, wanting something to eat.

So we got up, fed him and got him back to sleep by 330am.
As I crashed into my bed, I did a quick calculation. I can get 2.5 hours of sleep now. That will have to do. I’ll be exhausted, like I’ve been but it’s better than nothing.

I go in to wake him up.

This morning isn’t any different than any other morning. He fights, he kicks and swings at me. I’m used to it. I block his swings and continue to talk to him, to try to soothe him, to bring him down.

He’s calmer. He finally gets out of the bed. He empties most of the toothpaste in the sink. That’s the second tube he’s gone through in a week. I get some out of the sink and brush his teeth.

He starts to run off. I have to chase him around the room to wash his face.

He’s rolling on the floor. I try to get his clothes off and get his school clothes on. He’s kicking at me again. I side step, used to having this dance. My shin is bruised from the last kick from last week.

School clothes on. He’s still protesting. Now loud. I’m sure the neighbours can hear.

I try to get him to eat. He never eats in the morning. I get him to take some swigs of a smoothie. 3 is enough.

He is now calmer. No more kicks and swings.

He starts to repeat the same statements over and over again.

I get him into the car. The car calms him more.

We drive to school.

He runs off to play as soon as we get there. He is happy and calm.

I’m exhausted but pretend to be good.

I chat with the other parents. The bell rings, its time.

I give him a kiss. He is relaxed now. The routine is set.

I come home. There are toys all over the floor, the kitchen table is a mess and there is laundry that needs to be folded and dishes that need to be put away.

I’m giving myself a moment of grace.

A moment to say no.

A moment not to care. To focus and not worry.

I’m giving myself the gift of One Hour.

For all my parents out there, especially those of us juggling the never ending battle of what HAS to be done and what NEEDS to be done…

For those who have a child that has special needs or just NEEDS their energy and time…

For those who can’t seem to pack everything that needs to be done into one day…

Please, listen

Take that time to breathe, to focus, to worry less about what NEEDS to be done and more on what you WON’T be doing.

Give yourself a break

Give yourself the chance to pause

Give yourself the gift of ONE HOUR.

You deserve it.

Merry Christmas

Sunday, May 5, 2019

School Daze

Legend has it, when I started school, I marched right in, turned around and told my mom "I'm fine, I'll see you later"
This story changes in detail depending on when and what time of day you ask my mom. 😏
The bottom line is that I was her super independent, fearless child.

Fortunately, or unfortunately I have passed that gene onto my son.

We started a mainstream school recently. It was an agonizing decision to get to this point. There were several people that thought he should just go to a specialist school for children with autism. Others on his care team thought that he would flourish in a mainstream setting with neurotypical children and learn to mimic and mirror their normal social behaviours.
After going back and forth, we opted for mainstream school.

The road to school was a rocky, emotional and sometimes crappy one.
We had to get assessments, apply for school disability funding, meet with teachers, principals, aides, therapists, the Pope, etc. Then there were more things to do like develop his Individual Learning Plan (IEP) and work on a transition program.

When all said and done I felt like we were about to launch him into space not Kindergarden.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate all of the preparation, the meetings and the care and consideration put forth by EVERYONE dealing with Noa. But like all things in our life, it was overwhelming.

All we did for the past several months is agonize over EVERYTHING and anything with school.
Would he have an aide available for his am break? Who would watch him during lunch? Would he need someone in the classroom to help him understand instructions?
Everything was a question and answers were mostly in the form of guesstimations and theories.

I barely slept the night before his first day of school. I took a half day at work so I could be there.
I had a cute little sign made with all the normal stats "My First Day of School" listing his height, hobbies and teachers name. That morning he was as calm as ever, asking over and over again about "Big School". I reassured him that we were going to Big School today and that he would be a big boy now. My final statement fell on his deaf ears as he was busy picking out a perfectly round rice cake from the bag.

I took the obligatory pics and we piled into the car to drive to school.

We parked a couple of blocks away so that we could allow Noa some time to acclimate and we could prepare him for his day. Preparing Noa is telling him what is going to happen. Noa is not particularly rigid in his schedule but he does need a general idea about what is going to happen unless you want him to fall apart. So we walked towards school and  I reminded him that we were going to go to Big School. That his teacher, Miss L would see him. That his friend, E would be there and that he would see one of his therapists from Little School. He walked along, repeating the plan, turning it over in his little mind.

We all gathered at his classroom, a sea of new little faces. Some excited by the new adventure and others clinging to legs, crying. Thankfully, Noa was pretty serene. Just looking around calmly.
I made anxious and obligatory chatter with some of the new parents. We traded laughs about how this was a long time coming.

The bell rang and Miss L, Noa's therapist and the teachers aide came to gather the little ones up and take them to class. We were invited to come in as it was the first day. I could feel my chest tightening and my tears coming. I was blinking furiously, trying to keep it together. Thankfully, there were other mom's already half way to a Stage 4 meltdown. I wasn't alone.

We took Noa in, got him seated to his friend and then the second bell rang. That was our cue, that was it.
Noa was engrossed in a puzzle that was set out on the table.
I bent down to tell him bye.
He was busy in the puzzle.
"Noa, Mommy and Daddy are leaving now. You are going to have a good day at Big School"
He didn't look up, grabbing another piece
"I stay at Big School"
It was a statement, not a question. When Noa questions it could mean he's uneasy or upset. This was just a statement. An understanding. A resolution.
He was comfortable.
He was fine.
"I'll see you later Noa. I love you"
"See you later" I winced cause I didn't get the obligatory "I love you" back as all the other children were doing.
He didn't look up.
There was no anxiety.
As far as he was concerned we were gone.

We waved at Miss L and the therapist and I barely made it to the door when the tears started flowing. One of the other moms and I  had a brief squeeze of hands in solidarity as we darted away from the classroom.

All that preparation, all that work to get him to this point.
He doesn't need me right now. He's independent.
He got that same gene that made me comfortable with dismissing my mom on my first day of school over 40 years ago.
I guess we are doing something right.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Gone Girl

Sometimes I think it was easier when he didn't notice me.
Noa was affectionate-ish
He would cuddle and hug...only when he wanted to.
He'd sometimes go rigid if someone touched him but was happy to allow us to carry him around.
I didn't realize it initially but he didn't really notice when I wasn't around.
I'd hear my friends talk about their babies having separation anxiety.
The guilt they would feel when they left a screaming baby at the door.
I would leave and Noa would barely notice.
He'd see me leave but it was like he realized that it was a temporary separation. That I would be back. There was no reason to get upset.
And so I'd say goodbye before going to do a shift at work and Noa would glance up from his play and that would be it.
No tears.
No running for me at the door.
No sneaking out.
I just left.

I didn't realize it would be an issue until the first time I actually "left"
I decided to go to a medical conference in San Francisco while we were living in New Zealand.
Part of me was excited, this would be my first chance at "mommy time" since I had Noa.
The other half of me was guilty. I was guilty about leaving my baby, going overseas and being so far away.
The day I left, I was a ball of nerves. I cried when saying goodbye to my husband and begged our nanny to love Noa while I was gone.
I cried on the plane, I was so worried about how Noa would do with me not there.
My first day way, I called home to check in. I just KNEW that Noa would be stressed without me.
"He's fine". My husband was looking less than amused by my 0300am phone call.
"What do you mean 'he's fine?'
"Babe, he's fine. Just that."
"Has he asked about me? Did he cry this evening about not seeing me?"
"Nope. Call back tomorrow, I'll let you skype him"

Each day I called, and each day I got the same message.
He was fine.
He wasn't missing me.
Life went on.

Finally on day 7 I had enough of my "Mommy Medical time". I wanted to come home. I called my travel agent and asked him to get me on the first thing smoking back to New Zealand and my family.
The best he was able to do was to get me a flight out in 48 hours.
I packed my stuff and waited for the 48 hours to go by.

I was thrilled to land back "home" in New Zealand.
My husband picked me up and I couldn't wait to see Noa.
When I got home, he was in his usual position, on the floor, putting letters and numbers in order.
"Hi Noa"
He looked up at me. Blinked. Stared. Then he screamed. He wailed and cried and sobbed.
I grabbed him and held him, cuddled him and kissed him, my shirt soaking wet now with his tears.
He sobbed for what seemed to be forever.
I took him in his room and held and rocked him for ages.
He finally stopped, then he looked at me and climbed out of my lap and toddled off back to the living room to play.
It was like the meltdown never happened.

I was confused. I had no idea what just happened.

And it happened again, this time I had gone for 2 days when my sister came to visit. When I came home, Noa reacted the same way. Sobbing, screaming, inconsolable for almost an hour.
And again, just like that, the transgression of leaving him was forgotten.

Going to work was fine. Being on call for 24 hours was a non issue.
There was no crying. No notice of my leaving.
It was that way for years.

And then we moved to Australia.
Noa started his Early Intervention program and speech therapy.
His world opened and we started understanding.
There were new words now, toddler negotiations and "normal" meltdowns.
He started to notice.

"Mommy go to work?"
Little brown eyes were watching me intently as I got ready and packed my overnight bag.
"Yes, Mommy has to go to work. But I will be back"
"Mommy be with you tonight?"
This is when it started to hurt. Most nights I'd be home but sometimes, I wouldn't come home. It could be days before I'd see him again.
"No, Mommy won't be here with you tonight. But I will see you tomorrow. Mommy has to go help the babies"
His brown eyes started welling up with tears. Baby voice cracking.
"Mommy stay here with Noa? Don't help the babies." His tears were falling now. My heart is now breaking into a million, trillion pieces.

And this is the moment where I realize I hate everything. I hate my job, I hate myself for leaving him. I hate that I have to do silly things like pay bills and  a mortgage.

I blink rapidly to prevent my own tears from spilling.

"Mommy will be back. SOON. I promise. When Mommy comes home I will play with you."
He considers this for a moment, still looking forlorn but the tears have stopped.

"Mommy go to help the babies then come home?"
"Yes, Mommy will be back to play with Noa SOON".
The acceptance of the inevitable sinks in a bit.
I gather my bags and we all walk to the car.
He holds his Daddy's hand and I give them both a kiss, reassuring him that I will be back soon.
I see him look up at his father and say "Mommy is gone?" I don't hear his father's reply and I'm glad I don't have to. I don't want to cry in front of him.
I wave and drive off.
I'm ruining my makeup with pent up tears coming down my face but I'm also so happy...
He noticed I'm gone.

It's so good to be noticed. 😊

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

No Pain, No Gain

"OMG, have you seen that show, 'The Good Doctor'? Its about a boy who is autistic that is a super genius doctor!!! Its so good!"

I smile and say I haven't caught the show yet but I'll make a point to watch it.

Truth is, I won't.

I know my friend is trying to be helpful. She's trying to show me that she has seen programs with actors portraying autistic characters and they are living "fine".
However, that makes me stress more.
I've seen and watched several shows that feature characters that are on the Spectrum:  The Big Bang Theory, Mr. Robot, The Accountant, Mile 22 and the Good Doctor all feature actors portraying a person on the Spectrum.
Some can be fun but others can just make me more anxious thinking about Noa's future.
Sure, its great to imagine him as a super smart doctor able to MacGyver a breathing tube out of a straw but I'm looking past the "job" and more into the person.
Most of the shows featuring people on the Spectrum just amplify my biggest concern for Noa....Will he have friends and meaningful relationships?
How will he connect if he can't quite understand basic emotions/desires and feelings?

Last year, in his intervention program, they spent months teaching him how to interpret facial expressions. As with all things, Noa fixated on these. He would walk around interpreting people's faces as we walked down the street. Hard to explain to the random woman why my son calls her "Angry Face". (Spoiler alert, his comment MADE her the Angry Face Lady even though she wasn't before.)
After a while, he was able to suppress the urge to call out interpretations of facial expressions but he still had issues with figuring out minor emotions. I know this will be a challenge for him when it comes to forming friendships and relationships.

I won't be here forever, facilitating things, hovering and helping him figure these things out. We fight every single day to give him the tools to try to figure this out on his own.

I truly hope that one day he will have friends that "get it' when Noa doesn't do a lot of back and forth banter and will not get too upset when he bluntly tells them when they look fat in stripes. (Thanks for that Noa, I threw those pants away.)

I wonder if its better this way? To not be "attached" to all of these complex and sometimes difficult emotions. The anxiety, the worry, the insecurities and stresses? Will I get this job? Did they like me? Will I fit in? Will he/she say yes? What if it is better, to be free of all of that? I know that he is capable of feeling happiness and joy because he loves certain activities. They make him smile and laugh. But personal interactions are very flat and one dimensional.
Is it bad that he doesn't seem to feel "bad"?
What if this can spare him from heartbreak when a girl rejects his Valentine's card?
Or if he doesn't make the school soccer team? Or if a group of friends don't invite him out?
It makes me feel a bit better that instead of questioning his worth or being down that it will not even register.
He takes it as face value. People come and they go. People get sick, they die. People say no and will reject you. And you move on.
There is no reason to mourn, to cry or to "freak out".
Life will go on.

On the flip side of all of this I wonder how missing out on those complex emotions will stunt his emotional growth? Will he forever be childlike because he doesn't form friendships or relationships? I don't want him to be alone, I desperately want him to find an enduring and beautiful love like I did with his father. I have seen it happen with adults on the spectrum but I'm not sure what qualities are there to make the spark happen but I know its there.

There is a lot to learn from Noa and his interpretation of the world. Maybe I need to let go more, to stop stressing so much about "people" things. Stop worrying about what people think, or how they receive me. Just focus on being me and a good person. Maybe Noa has found the true path and we are just stumbling around trying to find the way.

Noa's amazing "ability" to deal was beautifully shown last month.
My beautiful mother was here visiting us for 6 months. During that time, she became a regular part of his life. Everyday, he would wake up and go spend time with her. She would read to him, play with him and interact with him. Eventually, the time came for her to go back home. As each day grew closer for her to leave, I became more and more stressed and depressed. We waffled back and forth with how we should "sneak" her out. We thought about me taking her alone, my husband taking her or us going as a family. We decided to go to the airport as a family to see her off. I honestly did not know how Noa would react to seeing her leave after 6 months. We were ready for a complete meltdown.
We sat with her as long as we could but then it was time to say goodbye. I was in tears, my husband was trying to remain stoic (he cried a little too :) and we hugged and said goodbye. Noa looked at her, gave her a kiss on the cheek and said "See you next time" , waved and then turned around to leave.
No stress, no tears, no pain. Just "bye".
I was confused and through my tears, laughed at the hilarity of it. Here we are, the three adults fretting over saying goodbye and Noa did it in 5 seconds and had moved on with his day.

I'm standing in the airport, watching my mom leave, wiping tears away and laughing at the same time.
Noa looks up at me and says, "Mommy is sad?"
"Yes, Noa. Mommy is sad because Gigi left"
He looked down and then said, "Gigi will come back"
I nodded. "Yes, Gigi will come back"
He took my hand and said, "Lets go to the Aquarium"
And just like that, the sadness dispersed a bit. I wasn't going to wallow. I needed to let go, process it and move on. Its not a mourning, it was a "see you later". Noa knew that. I had to figure it out on my own.
It was time to go. We all held hands and walked out of the airport. Tears had dried on my face. Noa was chattering about his favourite fish he would soon see. It was a beautiful sunny day. Noa was fine, I was fine and that was that.

Race to the Finish

It was a race. A race to the finish. It took a while to explain to Noa that he needed to run to the finish line. To cross the line. To run ...