Friday, September 23, 2011
DEFEAT US NOT
The box arrived. We'd both known it was coming for a couple months, yet it sat there, in the middle of our carpeted livingroom floor, fairly sparkling with excitement, or perhaps awe. Neither of us can say for certain all that cardboard box meant to us.
I'd retrieved it. For reasons I have yet to fathom, UPS and FedEx do not bat so much as one teeny eyeball when they leave packages on our doorstep. Since we live in a
huge apartment complex, we've tried to stress upon them why that is not necessarily a good thing.
Arriving home from a routine trip to the grocery store, I found the box. I KNEW what it had to be...we both live on a limited and very fixed income. We only get packages at the beginning of the month...not the middle to end of the month.
Stepping over the box enough to place the bags I held in my hands on the bottom step leading to our second floor apartment, I turned, with awe and reverence, bent the way they tell you to when lifting packages and hefted us both back upwards.
Heavy...heavy box...but despite its weight it exuded sunshine. Okay, perhaps a bit fanciful, but my inner being was glowing so perhaps not so fanciful after all.
With measured gait, I navigated the fifteen steps, propping my shoulder, knee, and balanced box against the wall while reaching for the knob on the door at the top of our steps...something only we have to keep Kat from careening down those same steps during her many seizures.
(I'd found her once upon returning from shopping at the bottom of these steps, unconscious and bleeding.) Immediately I petitioned and hounded our complex and doctor for a medical necessity installation. They're good here about how they take care of their residents needs.
The knob turned with ease and I was inside.
Kat Holmes, my brilliantly prolific, Best selling, multi-published daughter was sitting on her bed...placed now in the livingroom so I do not have to struggle to hear her when she seizes during the night...working on her brand new Acer Netbook one of our dear friends gave her. (More about those friends later.)
She looked up, saw I was carrying a box not the eco-friendly bags I always use when shopping, and her eyes lit up like a Christmas Tree...in July.
I put the box down, in the middle of the room and cracked my own mile-wide grin.
"Is that...?" She didn't finish the question. I could see the hint of fear she was guessing wrong on her beautiful face.
Disappointment, like betrayal, hurts.
She'd just suffered the betrayal part in June from someone she thought was her friend. Disappointment on top of that, would have turned the sparkling anticipation in her radiant eyes making me, her mom, feel the bottomless wells of renewed pain.
Fortunately I could shake my head with a vigorous "yes".
Slapping the lid of her Netbook shut, she was off her bed and across the room in a heartbeat. Now we both stood, staring down at that seemingly innocuous box, that glowed...at least in our eyes...for a long moment.
Lifting my gaze I watched my beloved daughter reach for the box cutter I'd yanked from its concealment high on the entryway shelf after putting the box down. (Seizures have many faces...some require treating your home in much the same way you do when baby-proofing a home...but with a bit more attention to cunning details..like height...Kat's taller than me, so height is always an adventure for me to solve.)
She reached for it, knowing the momentousness of my handing her the sharp blade...I could have cut the packing tape myself, but this required honoring her as the brilliant brain and young woman she is.
Lowering to the floor, we held our gazes, mother and daughter, for a long second before Kat went to work. With great care...(she did not want to risk scoring the precious cargo within the box)...she deftly sliced through the packing tape, resecured the cutter, handing it back to me.
Without removing my observation of Kat's motions, I slid the box cutter into my shirt pocket.
I have seen awe on Kat's face before. I have seen joy. I have seen pleasure, but now I was seeing them all at once.
As she reached in to grab the top edition, her hands shook.
Lifting it free from the box, Kat held it so we could both look our fill.
I am her Mom, and the pride that swelled within me brought tears to my eyes. For Kat, her lips widened in a grin of pure rapture. I am old, and have felt many highs and lows in my life, but none rival the moment those tears filled her lovely eyes, when she pulled that book...
HER first printed book, to her chest and said "Mine!"
In a flash, my mind's eye remembered her at three, up there on the stage, my little flower blossom gliding and enchanting one and all during her first ballet recital. (My ex burned many of my treasured pictures as punishment...I have so few left from my children's younger years...this is one I can only draw from the depths of my long-term memory...but oh Lord, she looked so sweet...so adorable...and danced with such energy.)
The day she came home from school, she'd been kept late to make up for work she'd missed during one of her many absences for medical issues. (My ex and his cronies did a lot of damage to all of us.)
I'd pretended anger at her for coming home late (even though she'd called) so she'd have to go to her room believing she was in trouble
and find the brand new stereo system I'd been secretly saving to buy for over a year.
Her brother and I spent the day finding the right one...white...with all the things Kat had been asking Santa for two years for...rearranging her room so it was where she'd have the best access to it.
We eagerly waited in the living room anticipating Kat's reaction.
Her squeal of delight bounced off the apartment walls when she saw it and realized my "anger" had been nothing more than a ruse to get her to her room and the suprise waiting for her. My heart and my eyes filled with tears. I am so honored to be her mom and I so love this girl.
But today's delight beamed much more brillantly.
I remembered her a bit older, poised on that high diving board, her acrophobia locking her to the spot...unable to take the leap and equally unable to retreat with the queue of other swimmers impatiently waiting their turn and unmercifully taunting her from behind. None of them knew how her father my now ex-husband had tortured the younger Kat by holding her feet, dangling her and threatening to drop her head first from our roof.
In her eyes back then I saw the remembered panic and certainty of death she'd worn when her father taunted her. From within the pool, I saw the same fear. I called up to her, loving her, promising her I'd be here when she took that leap. A promise she knew I'd keep.
When she surfaced from that first plunge there was joy and pride of accomplishment on her face, a mere shadow of the emotions radiating across her face now.
I saw the beaming respect for herself during middle school when she handed me the proof she'd been named Student-of-the-Month at her middle school...the ONLY one out of the three thousand students.
Fast forward to twenty-three.
After the marriage ended and we lost our house in the divorce, I could not afford to buy another house, so we lived in a succession of apartments. Until this one, none allowed pets. I knew how much she wanted a pet, but neither of us could handle the care of a dog...so we went to the pet store.
They had two kittens...one had been dropped off the night before and was being treated for a cold. The other, a handsome little dude, would cost us $25.00 plus the initiation care pack but we could take him immediately. If we chose the sick kitty, they'd give her to us free, and just have to purchase the pack.
The minute they placed this scruffy, sad looking little ball into Kat's hand, love happened. We bought the initiation pack. Mama Bear and Kat are connected at the hip, chin and everywhere in between.
She is the only gift from the past years that could supercede this moment. Mama Bear loves Kat so intensely, and is so intuned to Kat's chemistry, she will sometimes alert me before hand that Kat is going to have a seizure. Nothing...no one can improve on their relationship...not even receiving her first batch of print books.
Years of special moments all flashed inside my otherwise withered head. Her kindness to the elderly women we were forced by my car accident eleven days after 9/11 to start riding with...Kat helping them reach for items from upper shelves...her helping them load their packages onto our shared bus...her buying flowers and sliding them into their carts when they were not looking just to cheer them up on a bad day. Their pleasure in her smiling face and generous heart and smart brain...all these things streamed across my brain's screen.
What I would not have given for a camera, but the digital camera we have only records onto "A" floppy discs and we no longer have working computers with "A" drives...so I am forced to recreate it all here from my imperfect memory. But moms are pretty good at remembering the moments in their children's lives that engrave upon our heartstrings.
THE LIGHTHOUSE...her very first Muse published book...nominated for a
2011 P.E.A.R.L. award before it released by the professional reviewer in January 2011 and now, less than eight full months later, she held it like a cherished jewel against her chest, tears running like streams of gold from her eyes.
It is now almost three months later.
Kat cannot write or print the way the rest of us do because it physcially hurts her. She was diagnosed at thirteen months with Minimal Brain Damage to the motor skill portion of her brain. Trying to write hurts her so badly she cries the whole time she does it...but she is such a big-hearted woman...one who never takes any kindess towards us for granted...
She wanted to share her joy with those that have given her this miracle and so many others. So despite the burning pain and streams of anguished tears she kept wiping away, Kat signed copy after copy after copy from her cherished box of books.
Who did they go to?
First...me...her Mom. Her words are simple...TO MY BELOVED MOM, KATHY, A.K.A. KAT HOLMES.
You should know, those that have read her book, remark that one of the first things they notice is the dedication...so every copy, whether e-book or print copy ever sold will tell the world how much my daughter means to me...What did she write?
I DEDICATE THIS BOOK TO MY MOM WHO STOOD BY ME THROUGH THE STORM IT TOOK TO GET THIS BOOK WRITTEN. I COULDN'T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU.
Her second book went to her writing mentor N.J.WALTERS.
Her third and fourth, hand signed book went to our publisher and cheering section
LEA SCHIZAS and her partner, LITSA KAMATEROS.
And then the list gets longer and longer:
Chris Speakman, and
Muse Cover Artists:
Delilah K. Stephans and
Suzannah Safi...Muse Goddesses both.
MY writing mentor, New York Times Best Selling Author
Those beloved friends I spoke of earlier...Muse Authors
Karen Coté, and
Family...Her Aunt and Uncle in Wyoming and
her favorite cousin in Montana...
her brother and his wife...our adopted mom...who won't let me take her picture but is one of those beautiful elderly ladies we met because I am not allowed to drive any more.
Our doctor and her nurse who treat Kat not JUST as a patient but as an inspiration and friend...The women here at our apartment complex who have looked after us...we really don't know why they adopted us...but they did...since we moved here 21 years ago...our immediate next door neighbor...another who adopted us although we haven't a clue why...a couple of our
favorite bus drivers. (Para-transit has been our only method for continuing to have any life since my car accident and some of the drivers have become dear to us over the years...three got signed books.)
Kat's cover artist and dear friend from her former publisher.
So how many does that make? 27 hand signed copies..plus she did two hand signed copies for the contest winners.
Most of those had to also be mailed around the world because Kat and I honor and thank the people who have stood so firmly in our corner during this journey.
This posting is entitled DEFEAT US NOT. Despite all the challenges created by the doctor who birthed her, and there have been many...the Minimal Brain Damage was just the tip of the medical iceberg of issues Kat has had to endure all her life, she is one of the most honorable, generous, caring people I have ever met...
In other words SHE IS A WINNER from the inside out, and I do not say this because I am her mom.
She is my second child, and although I love my son from the bottom of my heart too, the years with my ex carved a different mindset within him.
So Kat's beauty of spirit is totally her own...it came to her when she entered this world and has nothing to do with anything I have done, the cruelty she suffered at the hands of my ex-husband...or anyone else bent on trying to dim her radiance...it is just her.
So those who have, over the years looked at her Petit Mal movements and found cause to ridicule...those who have claimed friendship knowing they meant to
stab her in the back...she's moved beyond you...as have I. How could we not when for reasons we will never understand, so many people have adopted us with
love, friendship...and yes...
Thank you all for being the blessings we did not know existed but are forever grateful to receive.
(Those who have not yet received your signed copies of Kat's book, I promise you they're on the way or about to be.)
LOVE AND GRATITUDE TO ALL,
Lin and Kat