Monday, July 10, 2006

Two Brains Passing

It’s official. My little baby girl is now a toddler. Eva has been walking for over 4 months. She rarely sits still for more than 10 seconds. From the moment she was born I have eagerly watched her grow, absolutely fascinated by the things she does every day. I can almost see the new connections forming in her brain as she conquers each new skill. Learning to rollover, sit up, crawl, walk. Grasp, point, open, close. Eat, smile, laugh, and cry. Ok, crying she had down right out of the gate.

By contrast, my physical abilities are slowly fading. A few months ago, when Eva was on the verge of walking, she would hold on to furniture for balance. As I stood watching her one day, I realized I was doing the same. Last year over the 4th of July, I went for a hike in the mountains of Colorado. I walked steadily with Eva in her infant carrier. This year I found myself stuck on a chaise lounge, unable to get up without a hoist from my in-laws. Eva chased birds in the yard. I watched from the deck.

Today, she motored about the house like the Energizer bunny, getting into everything, while I focused on each step to follow. Good thing I have long legs. But when Eva falls, she goes down quick on her butt. She gets right back up and keeps going. I have farther to fall, and getting up on my own is nearly impossible now.

Talking is Eva’s latest gig. She’s saying all kinds of things: mama, dada, grandma, grandpa, papa, flower, boo-boo, bubble, balloon, baby. Some names too: Amy, John, Robert (Scott is a bit more involved perhaps, and everyone butchers Kirsten). Her favorite word lately is “No.” As in response to “Eva, are you ready to go night-night?” We try hard not to laugh. I hope to continue my conversations with her for a long time. We’ll see.

Eva tests my ability to keep up every day. That’s a good thing. I need to stay active to keep my muscles in the best shape possible. She seems to be adapting well to my adaptive equipment though. She steals my cane from me sometimes. Then she’ll bring it back and hand it to me with a grin, as if to say, “It’s OK Daddy. You can do it.” She even helps push my new walker when we take a stroll down the block.

The most frustrating part of my day is not having the strength or energy to play with her as I’ve always imagined. But I do what I can. Without her, it would be easier to sit around and sink into depression. She gives me the motivation and the strength to keep going.

As her central nervous system grows and her abilities increase, a part of mine is dying. I often imagine that I’m transferring my mobility to her. If possible and necessary, I’d do it without hesitation. Instead, our brains are like two trains passing in the night. We are stuck on opposite tracks, steadily chugging along toward one another. We need to enjoy our time together as much as possible while we pass. I like to think her train is traveling faster than mine.


Vanessa said...

Scott, the imagery in your last paragraph was breathtaking. I'm not a physicist, but I believe I once read that Steven Hawking studied theories of time, existing in different dimensions....I know it feels as if you and Eva are on two tracks, travelling in two different directions, and once passed, quickly...and sadly... disappearing in the distance....but may I suggest that we never know where tracks may lead....perhaps our tracks are like a strand of dna, spiraling around and around...and maybe by some beautiful pattern the tracks end up going toward the same goal...where your train can travel alongside your daughter's and she can reach out for your hand. In graduate school I majored in English Literature and I believe I came away with a better appreciation of the power and beauty that words can have. Thank you for this piece of writing....through your pain you have created something beautiful. Take care....Vanessa

Vanessa said...

Scott, it's me again....after reading my previous comment over again I realized that I had misspelled "traveling" (have done it all my life despite graduate school and 22 years of teaching!)and I just wanted to add that it seems I am almost saying that I came away with a better understanding of English than you...Definitely not what I meant!I just meant that I came away feeling that I could now recognize beautiful passages and your last paragraph could have easily been one of those graduate school examples of beautiful imagery.

John Howe said...

I really enjoy reading your posts, Scott. You are an incredible talent. Your detailing life's most precious moments is a real gift to all readers.
I'm certain Eva is absorbing all the energy and talent you pass on to her as she continues to grow into your beautiful daughter.
How fortunate you are to appreciate these moments rather than to take them for granted as many of us do.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this difficult journey with those of us who care for you. I think about you all often, and have followed your blog since it began. You are such a gifted writer. Continue to enjoy that amazing little girl - soon she'll be saying those two little words every girl learns early on: "MORE SHOES!" (My daughter had those words down by the age of 2!) Best, Amy Hennen

Anonymous said...

When I was a young girl, my father passed away from Cancer. We had only three months from the time of diagnosis to his dying. At that point he was so sick, and so removed emotionally from our family, that we didn't have the chance to really express our love and learn what we cold about him, his love of our mother and all those things you think of as you grow up and ponder. I have lived 20+ years without him and would give anything to sit down and talk, listen to his voice and give him a "little girl kiss" You are doing the best thing possible, you are creating memories that only you can give your little girl, and if you are creating tapes, then you have years more love and life to give to her after you are gone. Everyday, just love her more than you ever thought possible, becuase that is the love that will carry her through life without doubt and without fear.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand this 'blogging' stuff (I leave that stuff to my 3 teenagers!)- but I wanted to say that I saw a news feature about you tonight - how I wish it was to be replayed at 10! - and I came across your website. Keep up the good work! We are another family dealing with ALS, and I, as my husband's caregiver, have had it up to HERE with the way our country is headed, and then the icing on the cake today!!! A VETO
against increased funding! aaaah!