Mountain Climbing

Someone said raising kids with FAS/E
is full of hills and valleys. 
The sad part is that the valleys seem deeper 
than the little hills in between. 
Instead of mountaintops 
we have never-ending crevasses. 

My Dad taught mountain climbing. 
We either went over or around, 
not down in. 
I reckon as parents we are to stay on top 
and rescue our kids 
when they are down in one of those 
It is so easy to find myself 
right in with them. 
So far we seem to always hit a ledge 
and somehow I get out and 
help them back up again. 
Sometimes it takes a helping hand to get me out, 
but the helping hand moves on 
and I am on my own again. 

But they leap into the next one. 
No slow plodding along. 
Leaps and lunges. 
In they go. 
And it's usually never one at a time. 
It's like a group thing. 
"Let's all see if we can drag Mom in today." 
All the kids dangling at the end of the line. 

Today my crampons are dug in hard, 
the rope is pulled tight 
and my arms are growing weak. 
The kids land on a ledge and 
hurl themselves deeper into the abyss. 
I look around. 
Any respite in sight? 
No, I must hold on.
and on.
and on. 
The gloves are burning through. 
The tears are falling. 
The ice ax is pulled free 
but I must still hold on. 

They must have help 
and I am the only one here to give it. 
How much longer? 
Is there another ledge? 
Will they hear me telling them 
to be still and rest? 

"Be still, wait for help!"
"No more leaping."
"Life is much brighter at the top." 

If they hear, will they understand? 
What if they interpret being still as leaping? 
What other way can I describe it? 
I need new words. 
I need to cut through the cold and fog 
with words they will understand. 

How I long to embrace them at the top! 

Maybe I don't want a mountaintop. 
There are too many crevasses on the way. 
Maybe I should stay down 
in that nice, green, grassy valley. 
We won't get anywhere 
or ever see any mountaintops 
but its quiet and protected 
from the wind and storm. 
No more crevasses to leap into. 
Just gentle ups and downs, 
rolling fields of flowers, 
a rock jutting out here and there, 
a few trees. 
A cave for shelter. 

Is that all I can offer my children? 
What is in their best interest? 
A quiet, sheltered life? 
Or are they to learn to do more 
and go places 
and see things 
and learn to not let it send them over the edge? 
Can they learn? 
Or is that expecting too much? 
Maybe falling into the crevasse 
should just be part of the schedule.  
It will happen, 
so get the help in place 
before the fall can begin. 

Most the time, 
people plan before they begin a journey. 
Most of us can't. 
We are already in the middle of the journey. 
We didn't even know where it would lead 
or what kind of journey it was. 
We leapt in ourselves. 
We found out later 
that our kids swing in the crevasses 
and have no way of knowing how to get out. 
They don't understand 
how they got there in the first place. 
They just are and be and do.
No reason. 
No understanding. 
And for most of them 
no chance of ever understanding. 
They live their life in confusion. 
It happens around them 
and they don't know how to cope 
so they end up in the next crevasse 
or the same one, 
over and over again. 
They even holler at us 
for holding on to the rope. 
The older they are the more they holler 
and yet they are no more aware of the danger
than when they were little. 

I will hold on today. 
I must. 
It is their only hope. 
I have to follow the journey to the end, 
whatever that may be. 
I must hold on, 
one-second at a time, 
one step at a time, 
moment by moment. 

by Carol in Washington, July 30, 2001
Grieving the Loss of the Dream