Gracie. She has good days and bad. The older she gets, the more defined they become. There is no longer a grey area where she sits back and chills. Nowadays I look back on things I used to complain about and just laugh. I thought I had it so rough..
I had no idea how life would turn out and I still don’t, not really. She’s changing all the time. Something good for today might be a train wreck tomorrow and there’s no way to tell which way she’ll go. It’s exhausting.
We live on the outskirts of a small town in Mississippi. At roughly 2,000 people and no stop light, we’re hardly a blip on the map in my book. Surrounded mainly by timber and fields, it’s a fifteen minute drive in various directions just to get to, say, a Walmart.. Or a movie theater.. Or a restaurant that doesn’t have a drive through window.
Our town is old and beautiful and quiet but there’s not a whole lot here. I have to drive at least 20 miles to another town to find a Walmart or a restaurant without a drive through window, the nearest being Philadelphia. This is where I shop and do my banking and get my gas. It’s where we go to the doctor and to the dentist and to get our vehicle tags and pay our utility bills and where Dratton has worked for more than sixteen years.
Gracie doesn’t go to Philadelphia. Not willingly anyway. She starts crying as soon as she realizes the rest of us are putting our shoes on and doesn’t stop until we get there. Sometimes she cries until we get all the way back home again..
Those are her bad days. On a good day she’ll still poke her lip out and whine but it isn’t so bad if I stay clear of the railroad tracks that run through the middle of everything. (We got stuck waiting for a train to pass by once and she’s terrified to near hysterics now) To cross them on certain roads or to be away from the house after dark (no matter where we are) is to invite the most ear-piercing screams of sheer terror imaginable. Within minutes she can be red with fever, shaking and crying inconsolably while her lower lip literally trembles. It’s awful and again, there’s not a thing any of us can do for her.
We’ve tried anxiety meds and backseat DVD players and darkly tinted windows, nothing helps for very long.
I’m at my wits end. I mean, all of this is just fine and dandy during the school year. I simply do what needs to be done before two o’clock. But right now it’s summer and she goes with me every where. It’s not like I can snap my fingers and conjure up a reliable sitter for a seven year old with a feeding tube and in diapers. That’s not happening.
So I deal with it. Every day. My “fountain of patience”, as my mom used to call it, is fast drying up as this summer crawls by at a snail’s pace.
I never thought I’d say it, but Lord, how I miss getting up at 5:30 every morning and dropping the girls off at school! I miss teacher meetings and homework and afternoon complaints about the bus driver and what they served for lunch.
I. Miss. School.
Is summer over yet?