Last night I was cutting up half a watermelon for dinner. We’re fans of the cut fruit and have been known to go through large bowls of it quickly, especially when it is perfectly ripe.
All of a sudden memories were flooding back of an entire year of family life, the year after my daughter was born. Diagnosed at 2 days old with ARPKD (autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease), she was born seemingly healthy but a prenatal ultrasound concerned the doctors enough about the kidneys to order tests before we left to go home from the hospital. The test revealed ARPKD. Three months later our then 3-year-old son was diagnosed with ARPKD as well.
The next several months I existed in what I call “The Fog” because I sort of just moved from one task to another while juggling the insanity known as special needs parenting. It took a long time to get into a routine and during that transition time from a “normal” family (I mean, really, what is that?) to a special needs family we had a lot of support. We were surrounded by people who helped us because we asked them or let them. Gladly.
A friend grocery shopped for us a for a year. At the end of each week she’d call or email us for a list and when she arrived with her perfectly chosen (just about ripe) bananas, we’d pay her. It was an unbelievable gift she gave our family for that year. We’re still a little amazed about it and in fact, when I thanked this friend recently for all of those trips to the store, she said, “Did I do it that long? I don’t remember.” Like it was not big deal to her, because I guess to her, it wasn’t. She was helping friends.
The fruit our friend bought was lovingly cut into little perfect squares by my mother. One moment I ‘d see the watermelon or cantaloupe sitting on the counter and the next minute they would be cut into bite sized goodness in a bowl in the refrigerator. My mother saw it as such a small thing, this cutting of the fruit, but it was such a nurturing thing to give us during a time when we needed nurturing. These acts of love that surrounded us has never left me. Obviously this is true since I randomly just thought about it cutting a watermelon 11 years later.
During this same time, my mother would send my father to collect our laundry and it would magically appear washed and folded a day later neatly placed back into the traveling baskets. The grocery shopping, the cutting of fruit and laundry were just a few of the tangible gifts in our life at that time that helped us so much.
I remember their gifts especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed with our life today, thinking back to that time when our heads were spinning and our hearts were breaking. They were gifts of healing that came at a time we truly needed to be surrounded by a warm blanket of love. I can still feel the healing that took place during that transitional year.
Since then, I’ve never looked at a bowl of fruit the same.
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