I hate when I can’t find a mate to a sock. It is borderline annoying except if I’m running late, haven’t had time for laundry all week and need to put socks on my sweaty child before sending them to school – then its MADDENING. But even more – I hate, hate, hate when I lose ONE earring. I bypass annoyed and shoot straight to MADDENED.
I never used to lose earrings – even in my ‘festive’ college days. Somehow, the earrings stayed on through the dancing, piling into cars and all types of late night frivolities. I just took it for granted that the earrings would always be there.
But then I became a mom and … things happen. People said I’d have to stop wearing my earrings when the baby arrived – babies love to pull at shiny things. Funny thing is, I can only remember a handful of times my son pulling at my earrings. So I kept wearing them. And then I started losing them. I guess somewhere between the sleep deprivation and constant care thrown at me by motherhood (and running a business), something had to give – and it was the earrings. I suppose if my son had been grabbing for the shiny orbs under my ears, I would have put my jewelry away for a year or two and ended up losing less earrings. Hmm… another thing autism has stolen from me. Earrings? Sounds shallow, doesn’t it. But I think it can be the smallest things that are taken from us, that strip our humanity or our souls. I don’t ask for the latest fashions, or even a daily shower. I don’t decorate my house or even rarely dig into my gardens. It all revolves around the kids and the healing and moving forward. But sometimes – sometimes – I put on a favorite pair of earrings to boost my mood.
I’m not talking about diamond encrusted Zsa Zsa Gabor earrings. Or huge JLo dangling earrings. Just ordinary, pretty earrings. I’m Danish and have worked in offices most of my adult life – so, really, they aren’t too “exciting”. But if you were to ask me what I want for my birthday or Christmas, I’ll usually say “earrings”. They are my favorite accessory. And because they are usually gifts – they have a story.
This pretty mosaic earring is from a long time good friend. One of those friends that I’ve been through thick and thin with – over and over and over. A friend that has come in and out of my life, but it’s like we never stopped talking everyday. A friend that I frequently did not deserve to have in my life. These lovely specimens were in my possession for probably over 13 years. They are perfect. They hook in the back – hence the reason they were around for so long. Now – they are gone. I didn’t cry – but did pause for a second and think “we had a good run” – and then got back to the task(s) at hand. This friend grew up as a sibling of a special needs brother. She knows the work that goes on behind the scenes in a “special needs” household – and she has the wonderfully dark sense of humor that, if you are lucky, goes along with that upbringing. She has spent many a scream-filled, pooped-scented day/evening at our home (mostly willingly, sometimes – not so much). She has bonded with my daughter, who is a younger sibling to her special needs brother. I am counting on her to share her “hindsight is 20/20” wisdom with my youngest, about coming from a household where different is normal.
I was really sorry to lose the mate to this beautiful blown glass earring.
First of all, you don’t see many pink earrings. Let me re-phrase that. You don’t see many pink earrings that you would actually wear…unless you are 5 years old. Second, they were from my Mom. She loved beautiful things – things that were different and stood out. She loved to look through catalogs and find unbearably gorgeous and unique items. There was never a lot of money, so she would use birthdays and holidays as an excuse to give these things away to people she loved. She got to know my son for five years – and love his unbearable beauty and uniqueness.
I think Mom always felt like an outsider in the world. She had big thoughts, but was trapped by not knowing how to implement them. She loved to read, was very smart but rarely had people who understood her way of thinking. She frequently felt alone – even when surrounded by people. This connected her even more to my son. All communication between them was unmistakable – a snuggle, a hug and look. No chance for misunderstanding. No chance for the world to get in the way. We would take Nana to PT weekly at the local hospital and every week, he would show her the elevators. At the end of “elevator viewing time”, there would be ONE coveted ride on the elevators with Nana. He was communicating and sharing; and she loved every minute of it.
She held on for years, getting sick, sicker and sickest. Finally she turned to me and, speaking of my beautiful son, asked, “But what will he think, what will he do if I’m gone?”. My heart just broke as I thought about explaining death, heaven and grief to my non-verbal 5 year old who saw his Nana almost daily. I assured her she was loved, my son was loved and if he couldn’t understand, he would come to understand her leaving. Six days later, Mom was gone. She had been holding on all this time…for him.
We were able to explain the loss to him. Nana had been sick (he’d visited many hospitals and rehab facilities to see her during his life). Her body stopped working and she went to Heaven, we explained. Heaven is in the sky. A few weeks later, we were driving past the local rehab facility she had been in, on and off, for months just the year before. A place we were able to visit daily. He shouted and pointed to it as if to say “HEY, THAT’S where she is! Let’s go THERE!”. I reminded him that Nana was in Heaven now. He signed “How?” and pointed up. I reported that I didn’t know how she got to Heaven. He thought about it a minute and then signed “Elevator”. Yes, honey. Nana took the elevator to Heaven.
These beauties have a hook on the back, so they stayed in the rotation for a while.
I could put them on and wear them for a week – sleep in them, swim, handle a meltdown or a supplement rebellion – and feel assured they would still be there. They were nick-named the “Lucky” earrings. Given to me on my 34th birthday by my husband…the evening our son was conceived. C’mon – we’re all adults here! Almost 12 years and countless diagnoses, sleepless night, medical debt and “chances for growth” later, these are STILL referred to as my lucky earrings. I can’t imagine the person I would be, if it weren’t for my kids saving me.
What I love most, is that my husband still refers to them as the Lucky Earrings too. The love and respect he has for our son is boundless. Although this little guy was definitely a ‘Momma’s Boy’ for many, many years – watching the bond between father and son grow strong and deep has been amazing. If not for our son, we likely would be schlepping to offices far and wide every day. If not for our son, our thoughts would be of how to make our house nicer – instead of focusing on our family and the world…our HOME. If not for our son, our world would be so much smaller. Much less colorful.
Can you see now why I can’t bear losing these things?! They are all springboards for memories. But the question becomes, why do I have a bag of all the lost earrings’ mates? Besides bordering on having a hoarding disorder, I think I have hope that I will find the mate to one or maybe two of the earrings. Wouldn’t it just be my luck to have given up hope and tossed out my bag of single earrings, then the next day I find the place the cat hides all the small sparkly things when she’s done playing with them! I just can’t give up the feeling of hope that change (or earrings) is right around the corner. Same with my kids – even with his 11th birthday rounding the corner and recovery, well – still a ways off… I’m not giving up hope. Hope for a happy future for him. Hope for his good health. Hope that he will be able to drive a subway – if that is what he wants to do. Hell, hubby and I were just talking about what needs to happen for him to be able to drive…so, yeah, about some things – I’ll never give up and throw away that bag of unmatched jewels.
Addendum: Looking down on the floor the other day, I was disheartened to see, what I thought was another hairball hurked up by one of our cats. Long gone are the days, I can walk away from it – hopeful that someone else will pick it up. So I reluctantly bent over to pluck it from my path. And guess what I found…