Freedom!

The rest of our California trip:

After 2 days at Disneyland we took a break from the park to do a couple of other LA area things. Sunday morning we drove up to Pomona College to visit an old friend and see my Dad’s skyspace on campus in the courtyard by the geology building. I had visited the site back in 2007 when it was still under construction but had never made it back to see the completed piece. I was glad we went. It’s a real stunner. Any James Turrell fans out there should put this on their ‘must see’ list for sure.

 

 

Unfortunately Lu was pretty freaked out on the drive there and as we drove around campus to park. To be honest, she tends to get really anxious and freaked out whenever we drive around in a city with big buildings. Parking garages in particular seem to set her off. She isn’t able to explain why this is to us yet, but my best guess is that the main multi-story building with parking garage she has ever been in is Phoenix Children’s Hospital with the Flagstaff Medical Center a close second, both of which have been the sites of numerous appointments, tests, procedures and surgeries. She reacted to the beautiful buildings at Pomona in much the same way.

 

However once we managed to coax her out of the car and she realized that we weren’t going anywhere scary, something beautiful and amazing happened. In the middle of campus there is a long, lovely green, surrounded by tress and buildings with no cars in sight. Because Lu’s instinct is to bolt whenever there is open space in front of her, for her own safety she has never been allowed to walk through a door to the open outside without holding onto someone’s hand and more recently also holding onto Dahanna’s leash.

It is my acute and ever-present terror of her coming into contact with a moving vehicle that is the cause of this. This is not an unfounded fear. We had too many early close calls to ever risk being negligent about this. But at the same time, it is heartbreakingly sad.

 

 

 

Sometimes she seems like a colt stuck in a stable who desperately wants to just get out there and run. I sometimes wonder if she would do so much jumping and pattern walking if she were just able to get out there and run.

 

 

 

 

It is my hope that as she gets older, with the help of Dahanna, she could learn to do track and field, or maybe even long distance running, if there is a way to keep her safe while she is doing it.

 

 

 

 

 

Because there on the Pomona green, we let her go and she got a taste. Freedom. Her happiness was palpable. She loves to run.

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t mean to say that she has never run before, she gets to run at recess and during PE and at the completely fenced in park where we go to play in Flagstaff. And we try to give her lots of physical activity with both the big trampoline in the back yard and the two small ones we keep in the house. She goes for pony rides and outings. It’s not like she never gets to do anything or go anywhere, it’s just that someone is always holding on to her or is right there within arms reach to slow her down if she gets going too fast.

 

 

After a good old run at Pomona, we left to meet some of Stew’s friends at the beach. We went to Huntington Beach which the GPS said was only 15 minutes away from our hotel. Somehow it took us over an hour to get there with Lu getting nervous as the drive went on. But when we finally got there, another revelation! It was a dog beach so we decided to let both Lu and Dahanna have a break from their leashes. This was a very difficult thing for me. Back when Lu was first being diagnosed I had this recurring nightmare where I was at a beach, knee high in the water, holding Myffy in one arm and holding Lu’s hand with my other hand. Suddenly, out of no where, a huge wave hit us and we were all knocked back into the swirling water. I managed to stand and pull Myffy up above the water but I had lost hold of Lu. My instinct was to dive back in to search for her but I was afraid of drowning Myffy in order to try to save Lu. I would wake up thrashing in bed in a sweat as if swishing my arms through the water searching for her.
I told Madison about all of this before we got to the beach. I told her that I would need to stay with Myffy and I was trusting her to always have Lu. She and Lu worked it out that as long as Lu ran along the beach Madison would run along side her, in between Lu and the waves. Lu could go into the water if she wanted but had to hold on to Madison’s hand. It worked out well. Lu ran to her heart’s content, she and Madison both got wet, and Myffy and I played on the beach while Stew had a chance to visit with old friends and do some wading out into the water with Lu as well.
I think as much as taking the kids to Disneyland was a triumph for the family, taking Lu to the beach was overcoming an enormous fear for me. And I realized that sometimes my fears for her safety may be stopping her from experiencing life. We’re not about to remove all of the safeguards we’ve set up for her, but at the same time, with the right people who I know I can trust, I think that it is time for me to start letting go just a little in order for her to discover more of the wonder and joy that life has to offer. Wind in her hair. Sea spray on her face. Pink-cheeked exhaustion. Freedom. Happiness.

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