Slice of Life
I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
-- "Halleujah" Leonard Cohen (sung by K.D. Lang)
Yesterday went fairly well, although I collapsed at the end of it and was in bed by 7:30 with a headache and apparent exhaustion, as I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. Does anybody know who was voted off the Biggest Loser last night?
Erik attempted to refuse to go to school yesterday. He yelled, "No school! No backpack! No!" I gave up on brushing his teeth, and he stomped his feet, slammed doors, and followed me around hitting me as hard as he dared. I couldn't help but think this was like spending a morning with Helen Keller at the beginning of her education, except Erik did a much better job of locating me and cursing at me than she probably ever could. After a time out failed to work, I began ignoring him at the point where I thought I was going to snap and stuff him into Gracie's car carrier in order to transport him to school. I took a deep breath and turned on the Today Show. In the middle of his outburst, K.D. Lang began to sing one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard, an older song by Leonard Cohen called "Hallelujah," and Erik stopped in his tracks. He stared at her performance and was frozen the entire song. He was in a complete trance. I stopped what I was doing and sat on the floor behind him, putting my hand on his back to let him know I was there. He very slowly backed up without breaking his gaze and lowered himself onto my lap. It was a little moment of peace in our house, and it was wonderful.
After school, Erik was dropped off in our snowy driveway, and we made complete dorks of ourselves waving wildly at Jeff, the bus driver. We ate lunch and headed to the orthopedic building at the hospital. I drove there a few minutes early to catch my neighbor Lisa working at her coffee cart in the lobby. She dropped everything she was doing and gave Erik a tour of the lobby, including the impressive but silly manmade stream that begins with a waterfall cascading over a collection of manufactured boulders and travels the length of the registration area in a long, rocklike enclosure. The scent of wet pocket change and struggling algae brought back memories of a fountain in a mall we used to visit in the valley when I was a child.
Erik refused to ride the elevator to the second floor, so the three of us went up the stairs and found the orthotics office. Three men emerged from the back workshop as we entered to make small talk, and Lisa introduced Erik to the ones that don't know us, beaming with pride. She marveled at the wall lined with various orthotics, most of which look as if they are for sports injuries. The bottom shelf housed a collection of braces identical to Erik's with foam pads and straps in cheerful colors.
Lisa left us to tend to her customers, and Erik carjacked a toy monster truck from the waiting room to take into the back room with Jeff, the orthotist. Erik has not been in this room for almost a year and a half but knew exactly what had occurred here with the screaming saw used to remove the materials they used to cast his legs. He began to panic, but we convinced him to join us, and I pulled the legs of his sweats up and took his shoes off so Jeff could see how tiny his braces have become. I'm no expert, I told him, but I do believe Erik has outgrown his orthotics.
If there was any doubt in Jeff's mind that I was telling the truth, one look at Erik's long legs capped with the tiny, toddler-sized orthotics took care of that. He called Erik's PT to see if he still needs them, and she told him she would reevaluate him at our next session. In the meantime, Jeff replaced the Velcro enclosures around Erik's legs so they no longer come undone every 30 seconds, and we were free to go. I made Erik ride the elevator but held him in my arms and soothed him through the rude mechanical buzzes and dings that made him jump and bury his face in my shoulder.