Monday, June 29, 2015

Eagle Ey

Our Tootsie earned herself a new nickname last weekend, "Trauma, Eagle Ey."

Tootsie trained her Eagle Ey on a dog at Concert in the Park on Saturday, and when she reached out to pet him, he reacted with animal instincts. To make a long story short (and to avoid the accompanying "control your child vs. control your pet" debate), I'll simply share that Tootsie required some exploratory surgery to rule out vascular damage and to stitch up wounds on her head and neck. She has minor (unnoticeable to the untrained eye) nerve damage to her face, but she's otherwise fine, acting like a typical toddler, alternately charming and defiant to her doctors and nurses and Mom and Dad. We remain in the hospital only to get comfortable with the PICC line and antibiotic infusions we will take on after discharge. 

Every event in the hospital leaves us bowing with gratitude for how fortunate we are: Only one more inch to the right, and then...only one centimeter deeper bite, and it could have been...

 We are thankful.

We are scheduled to leave for Boston and Maine on July 14. Need I mention that Tootsie got close to hijacking another Boston/Maine trip? Geez! I should probably knock wood until we are on the flight there...and BACK, as planned.

 So here I am again, rooming in the hospital under unusual circumstances with my third baby. This time, though, she's mobile. This time, I'm not allowed to leave the room unattended. Last time the two of us were confined to the hospital, she was a baby in a bassinet. I could leave her there for an hour in the care of her nurse and venture forth into the sunshine. This time, the one time I defied the nurse and went to the in-room bathroom without putting her bed's side rails up, she bailed out, stretching her IV cords to painful limits. Last time, each moment I breastfed her I was triumphant that my preemie was latching on and taking advantage of my rich bounty. This time, I'm wondering how we got to almost-two-years-old still breastfeeding. AFTER THIS, I swear, WE ARE WEANING!  

Not unlike last time, I'm at peace with our present and future. Once the paramedics arrived at the park and assured me our baby would live, I figured we could handle the rest.

So our two greatest challenges on the current horizon appear to be: 1) helping her kick her popsicle habit (averaging upwards of four a day plus lollipops), and 2) reaching consensus on a hairdo strategy (she's currently rocking the Rihanna).

Meanwhile, in typical Tootsie fashion, she's commanding the attention of the floor by doing laps in a push tricycle while declaring, "Ooooh; I like this!" and showing off how she administers her own oral meds via syringe.  She's also seizing the opportunity to potty train herself.  Why not?

In the ER at Children's Hospital, before formal names are established, patients are given "trauma names," established by alphabet much like hurricanes. Our Tootsie is "Eagle Ey" on my bracelet and hers. Which is just a new moniker for the same indomitable spirit which inspires us.

Hearty thanks to all those community members, neighbors, and friends who came to Tootsie's aid at the concert and who have provided support for all of us since. 

And we send our healing energy to the dog's owners, who were devastated by the events, and as we can only imagine, feeling helpless and hoping for the best.  We assure you we are well.  

Friday, June 12, 2015

CHS Graduation: a Tribute to Family

My graduation address to the Class of 2015 feels especially poignant as I mourn the passing of a role model and friend from the Class of 1987 and feel closer than ever to friends from my own Class of 1989.

Graduates, many of you have been a part of the Islander Family for four years. For some of you, it has only been a few months. But tonight you will be invited to join our fifty-year graduates in a family of Islander alumni and the past, present, and future of Coronado High School graduates which stretches back 100 years.  Placing yourself on a continuum of a century of events and people can make you feel as insignificant as a moment in time, or it can make you feel like you belong.

You will always be a part of the Islander Family, but I want to remind you of the other families you forged at Coronado High School and beyond its walls this year. Those families have sustained you and they are what you must seek out as you move on beyond this place.

A family can form over the course of a century or in the time an elevator is out of order. Families grow as a result of being in the same place with the same people (and the same appetite) week in and week out.   I'm thinking of Bagels and Bibles. I'm thinking of Water Polo Waffle Wednesdays. I'm thinking of Dessert Days in Woodshop and Calculus. You've grown families in your spots on the quad at break, at Starbucks before school, and astride your surf or skateboard.  In that E period class, CoSA carpool, and at that review session. 

Chances are most of you are not taking members of your Islander Family or real family along with you on your next adventures, so be on the lookout for new ones.  You’ll find them in some expected places:  your dorm, apartment building, library, dining hall, coffee shop, on teams, and in your classes and workplace.   But there’s wonderful reassurance in the familiar faces you find in less likely places…the clerk who seems to always be there when you're checking out.  The runners, walkers, or bikers who travel your same path.  The bird and squirrel outside your window each morning.  You’ll form families with people who share your faith or who share your struggle.

Coronado High School alumni create a home for one another by meeting annually on the eve of the Fourth of July in an all-school reunion. Year after year and decade after decade, 50-year graduates flock back to the island for our ceremony.  Our campus, even if the buildings aren’t the same as when you were here, will still belong to you.  Your classmates dedicated a memorial to all fallen Islanders, and the Rock and the courts and fields and stages, and that piece of pavement where you daily met your friends here at CHS, will always be yours.

So the advice I want to leave you with is to continue to actively form new families, even fleeting ones, by making eye contact, by saying hello and good morning, by high-fiving, by hugging, and by acknowledging that you're sharing the same space for a similar experience as someone else, whether it's in traffic or in a doctor’s office, or at a concert or graduation or grief group.  These connections are what make us less alone and are what makes us want to be and keep being.

I love you, my Islander sisters and brothers.  Don’t forget to come home to us for the holidays.