Editor’s Note: The journey to building our home and uniting these two families has been long. We each sold a home and live in temporary housing. The distances between them, drives to school and medical appointments results in traveling that gobbles up almost 100 miles a day and about two hours. It robs the time for reflection and writing which I miss. But the journey is almost over as we will see a certificate of occupancy and a mortgage closing this week. The girls are great. Haley is turning into a fine young lady at the age of almost five. I was at school the other day, when one of the administrators who has taken a shine to Haley said “she has a great sense of humor”. Only those who know and love a beautiful girl with overwhelming disabilities can appreciate the meaning of such a fantastic compliment. Emily is on her way home from Boston Children’s where she was treated for a line infection. While there Mom was told that she was doing splendidly, and we were to be complimented as she is having significantly less infections than might be expected.
This holiday is becoming for me one of deep reflection. It has almost nothing to do with what I once would have attributed to the spirit of our Christmas holidays, and more to do with the spirit that flows within us all, as we measure who we are as we drift through the years. Once reaching some level of maturity, I suspect that the private measurement our own identity is the one constant we all share. It is possible that parents of children such as my beautiful Haley know this well, as we know that our children secretly share this quality in equal measure with all of us.
And so it is that this Holiday season that I find myself taking measure of my own identity as I flow through time. As I reach into my past this season, my earliest memories of the Holiday season was a bay window looking out onto Eagle Street in Albany, New York. It was snowing and the dairyman from Normanskill Dairy was driving his horse pulled wagon down the cobble stone street. It was dark and late and he was heading home. Alongside me lay a colorful booklet of carols published at Holiday Season by a famous life insurance, whose name escapes me. I was at the home of my grandparents where my Mom lived while my father served in the Asian Theatre during World War II. It was a place where I can truly say the measure of my identity began. It was the start of me. I was just a child at the time, watching the snow, the horse, glittering lights and watching my own breath appear out of nowhere on the window, and looking for carolers to appear. My sense of how I felt at the time was one I wish to all children. It was a sense of wonder with no direction, no past, no future, no expectations of either, just the childlike presence of now. Childhood has a timeless quality. No, it does last forever, but while it lasts time must be taught. I recall the order to bed or get home when the lights come on. As with all of us we learn the boundaries of time well, and we wear its mantle to the grave.
Yet, it was just a couple of weeks ago that I felt the mantle lift. It was a Sunday, brilliant with sunlight, yet the air was chilled as it ran in front of winter. Haley was with me at the camp. The sun was streaming through the window from over the lake and it warmed us both. She was taking an extra-long nap and I was reading the paper. Moments earlier, I was considering all the things I might do if we were not together. I looked at her beautiful shining face and realized that her presence in my life had a mysterious quality. So I turned to her as she slept and there was that bay window I knew as a child and freedom from the weighted mantle of time.