07 September 2008

Are We Being Looked After?

I have come to believe that we are. Without a doubt!

A little preamble to this post: be warned that what follows is a little Metaphysical Musing. I blame this kind of deep thinking on my classical, philosophy-laden original education (e.g. secondary school). That French schooling system has a lot to answer for! My last two posts were light-hearted (this was needed after the soul searching, heavily-emotional expressions at the start of this blog). Time now to go back to more serious, existentialist matters…!

I had been thinking over this topic for a while when, in a recent post, Hammie stated that she believed “that there is NO guardian angel watching over you”. Following on this, I HAD no choice but to put on cyber paper where my thoughts had taken me.

I believe that life events do not happen in a random fashion, but that there is a reason for everything. We might not always see it, understand it, but when are occasionally privileged enough to see the Bigger Picture, all is revealed!

I would describe myself as an agnostic. I was brought up as a catholic, but the religious side of spirituality has not “done” anything for me since my teens. Instead, I have slowly come to the belief that someone – call it God, an Angel, Life, the “Force” (as in “May the Force be with you” J ) Mother Nature, Higher Power, it does not matter what label we put on it - has brought certain options along the path of my life to prepare me for Bigger Events. Cathal’s birth and the ensuing discovery of the Syndrome and his heart conditions have been the final proof for me. But, even though I have now acquired this conviction, it has not been easy along the way.

I will wind back the clock a little bit to explain my own journey, keeping it just to the last three years or so. Some years back, I found myself somewhat disillusioned with my career, and needed a change. Both my children had flown the nest, fending for themselves in the big bad world, so I seriously considered all options, even if they meant relocating from near Waterford where I then lived… as long as it was not Dublin. I do not like living in cities, been there, done that, thanks but no thanks any more. I went on several interviews over a period of about 8 to 9 months, always ending up one of the last two candidates, only to be told “you are great, we would love to have you, but….” Every time. Crushing! So I decided to give up for a while and see what would happen. Almost immediately, I was “head-hunted” (lovely feeling) by a multinational: without much fuss, I was given an offer I could not refuse – and not in a Godfather way either. Only problem: I needed to move to Dublin. AAAAH! I simply could not resist. This WAS my opportunity, I had struggled too much, I took it, sold the house, and joined the mad race for housing in the greater Dublin area. A big thanks here to Cathal’s Mammy and The Dad for allowing me to squat with them for close to 8 months! Not easy having the “mother-in-law” breathing down your neck…!

I did not know it at the time, but this irresistible attraction was there simply to make sure I moved to the right location, the one I had always resisted, Dublin. STRIKE 1.

Also during those few months, I had had to travel a lot, including to France (knowledge of the language was essential for the job) and renewed a lot of contacts with uncles, aunts, and cousins. This later proved to be STRIKE 2.

After barely 7 months in the job, the bubble had burst, my department was being out-sourced, and there I was, waiting for the keys of my new nest, and committed to a “lovely” new mortgage, and no job!

Then STRIKE 3 happened: fortunately for me, my skills and experience were in demand, and within a very short time, I had 4 job offers: 3 multinationals, but I was still shell-shocked and very weary of these. And another, with terms not as advantageous as the others, but something in it that made me feel good: Not-for-profit, working very closely with hospital staff…. It was different, it just appealed to me. And I went for it.

My point is this: after Cathal was born, I realised that, had I been still living near Waterford, a 3 hours drive away, I would have found it extremely difficult to cope with the whole situation, especially his hospitalisation. I needed to be close to him, to see him and hold every day. I also needed to be close to my daughter, simply to be with her, to be there. The move to Dublin had been crucial.

And working with people in hospitals, including Crumlin, meant that I was able to talk freely to anyone I met about Cathal. The reaction I received was tremendous, because they work in that “environment” people understood why sometimes my “head” was not exactly in the right place. They also offered so much support, and still do. And I know that when the next surgery comes around, they will also understand and support, because that is what they do, everyday. Also, the “personal touch” of the organisation I work for is such, that my boss and colleagues have been a great source of strength to me. I do not believe I would have received this to the same extend in a “faceless” organisation.

Finally, having renewed contacts with family members meant that I had all their up-to-date email addresses, and could correspond easily, keeping them all informed, sending them photos, and receiving so much back. This support carried me, and hopefully helped Cathal’s parents. This support is still there, and will be through the next hurdle.

So I WAS looked after, the ground was prepared for me over 3 years, to give me the tools to cope with the situation, as well as the support I needed.

And now, let’s talk about my Little Prince, Cathal. He too is being looked after, and so well! I heard once that children chose their parents. This made me think a lot at the time. My objection to this statement was that this would imply some children would chose parents who abuse them or neglect them! This did not rest easy with me. Yet I could not let go of this idea.

Nearly six months after Cathal’s birth, I am thinking that, Yes, Cathal did choose his parents, and Yes, he made a very good choice. And for an innocent little soul like him to make such a choice, he had to be guided, “looked after”. His parents are true heroes in my eyes, they have shown so much dignity and courage. Their energy and determination, not only in wanting the best for him, but in actively pursuing the best, are awe inspiring. Their love is boundless, their acceptance total. Cathal could not have made a better choice.

As a conclusion to this musing, all I can say is that I have absolute faith in the future. I do not know why Cathal has Down Syndrome, and a messed up heart. In a way, this is irrelevant. What is relevant is that, no matter what comes, Cathal will be safe, and so will his parents. They are all looked after.

And now, I throw this question:
- Do you feel that you are “Looked After”?
- Or is it just Luck - good, bad or indifferent?
How do YOU see it?


Lisamaree said...

Well Nan, since you ask; I used to believe in Karma. That what you put out in the universe comes back to you, sometimes to bite you on the arse.
So when not One but Two of my two children (one is misfortunate, two looks like carelessness) were diagnosed with Autism, and I realised I was married to someone least able to empathise because of his own Aspergers; Then I thought:
What did I do?

I actually remembered a kid with C.P. who was in my Grade 1 class (I was 7 years old) who was obviously "intergrated" but to my recolection, not very included.

I remember sitting on the itchy carpet tiles for some kind of group activity (it was the 70's, there were too many of us to sit at tables) and this boy was crawling around playing with stuff near the pigeon hole lockers they gave us. I thought I saw him reach into mine and instinctively (I was a tough little kid with a mean big sister) pushed him away. He whacked his head on the corner of a table. There was a lot of trouble afterwards, definitely involved the school nurse.

What was he reaching for? A twist tie, little bendy thing you put on your lunchbag to keep a sandwich fresh. Something to play with in a boring overcrowded classroom.

I remember that, and the countless other times I and my school mates made fun of the "blue bus" which the special needs kids traveled on, and imitated the speech of the kids in the "Spastic Society" ( I repeat, it was the 70's) television appeal commercials.

Okay, by the time I reached maturity (at least 14 or 15) I didnt do this. But I had done it.

So, was this why God, or Karma or The Force had chosen me to parent my kids???

Or, was it because I was an active student Rep', organised a Youth Year Conference at Age 16. Fundraised for a school mate to go to Edinburgh to compete in the Commonwealth Games. (Slave Auction and Raffle)

There isnt a day when I feel joy at having my lovely kids so healthy and in their own way, thriving and progressing. But there isn't a week when I don't notice some 7 year old prima donna on my street wearing a Disney Costume as day wear and pushing a doll in a pram. And wish I was her Mum too.

Oh shit, I 'm crying now.
Tell you what Nan, I've said enough.Gotta go put on more eyeliner. xx

Lisamaree said...

*There isn't a day when I don't feel joy at seeing my kids so healthy*

Nan P. said...

Hammie, I have done some stupid stuff over the years too, and A Lot of things I am not proud of, even quite ashamed of. But, as common wisdom has it:

The Past is gone
The Future is a mystery
All I have is the Present

And I do my very best to use the Present to “rectify” or “make up” for all the past mistakes.

From what I can see, you have already MORE than “made up” for your childhood behaviour. Anyway, children only mimic adults; I believe that, until they can truly think for themselves – and some of us as adults never reach that stage, it seems! – they simply exhibit in its rawest form what the adults around them are doing and thinking. Hence the cruelty we sometimes find in kids. It’s only a reflection of our own.

I feel for what you say about the kid down the street. But at the end of the day, that little “prima donna wearing a Disney Costume as day wear and pushing a doll in a pram” is ONLY a “little prima donna wearing a Disney Costume as day wear and pushing a doll in a pram”. Nothing more!

Where as YOUR kids…

PS – Thank you for your honesty and openness!

jazzygal said...

Hi there nan p.
You have a lovely blog and I just had to drop in and say hi.
As for karma??? Oooh....that's a tough one.
Think we all have those "why me " moments.
I only have one child and of all the children in the world I got this one. How lucky am I?? I tell him this at least twice a day! Eveb when things were really difficult I just loved him to bits. Now I'm crying now!!
Tell ya one thing though.....Cathal is one very clever child cos he also chose his grand mother well!

Nick McGivney said...

Well I'm not gonna cry cos I'm tough. Well ok, maybe just a little bit, but that's just the air conditioning (hey, Septembers in Northside Dublin can be hot, ok? Just let it go.) Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the metaphysical. This whole stupid blogworld has really brought me places of late. I've seen some opinions expressed, honestly and politely, that make me recoil from what I perceive as their sheer ignorance. Of course I am lucky in that I know everything, so I can gloat at ignoramuses. But I think that I'm with you, Nan P. I fall into the mode of convenience catholic, I think. And it'll stay convenient because I've rationalised it for myself to the point where I can live and let live, as the late great JC advised. Hopefully I'll always be so lucky. But truthfully I share Albert Einstein's view (because we big-brain boys agree on so many things) here expressed in a speech given in Berlin.
'To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that is there.'
Einstein could not have cared less for a God that operated at a personal level. He felt that Spinoza was correct in that this was just selfishness from the point of view of individuals. That's my reading of it anyhow. So Karma balancing out, neat though that idea might be, wouldn't really operate at a personal level.

Or, to sum it up in two words, shit happens.
Heh heh. Loved this post by the way.