Monday, August 17, 2015

Clutch your heart and grab a tissue

I received some adorable pictures and had a fun little text conversation with my mom and brother this morning as I was getting ready for the day. My little guys were on their way to their first day of school, one to second grade and one to kindergarten. The picture before they left home of each and together showed all smiles. When they entered school though, littlest guy was a little shy and big brother offered a hand to help out.


I am so thrilled and also absolutely cannot believe littlest guy is going to big kid school! This makes my heart warm and fuzzy and my eyes teary and my throat choked up. Look at those bright shoes! That new haircut! How will he ever find anything in that giant backpack? Will he make new friends? Dear sweet Lord, make his classmates kind and gracious and give him some friends. Help him sit in his seat and not hit or bite other children or get too overwhelmed with senses overloaded. School is hard.

See, I've always had this soft spot for the littlest guy. Bigger guy has a piece of my heart too, but littlest guy always cuddled in silence and watched TV much more than his big brother. He LOVES animals and has been drawn to them since he seemed to see past his nose. Initially he loved eating and would get so excited for his bottle, but as he started eating food, little quirks came out. He could hear the pop of a glass jar of baby food and fly into the kitchen, which was sometimes actually pasta sauce or another food container. The top popped and all of a sudden littlest guy was underfoot. Other little quirks and characteristics stuck out as we learned his personality. I thought he was a little introvert, and I just wanted to sit there and hug him. A while ago, there were certain quirks that befuddled my brother and his wife, so they consulted doctors and specialists. 

Autism spectrum. 

Oh. So, that explains quite a bit. Tests. Therapies. My brother and sister-in-law have been through a lot before and after The Diagnosis. This is also the main reason he couldn't be in our wedding. When he gets overwhelmed, he sometimes yells out or throws a tantrum and just cannot be consoled. He is very particular about some things. For instance, if you are watching a show with him and the characters start singing and you begin singing along but he does not think this is a time you should be or for some reason does not want you to sing right then, you will get a matter-of-fact, "NO!" Though M and I were okay with him yelling out or crying or whatnot, we understand that my brother and sister-in-law did not want to disturb the wedding with his unpredictability. But seeing that little guy there during wedding festivities and carrying around a plastic dinosaur (maybe the one I sent for his birthday? It's hard to keep track of all the dinosaurs!) really warmed my heart. He was so well-behaved too (no doubt he'd been given a lot of warnings and coaching ahead of time), and he loved taking umbrellas out to guests with Uncle Robert. So helpful!

I nearly posted about him during Autism Awareness month and did not. But him going to big kid school and dealing with all these new things is a lot AND THEN that picture! I've looked at it maybe five, six times. Now, where is my hearts-popping-out-of-eyes emoji??

Friday, August 14, 2015

My new name

Recently I was having a conversation with a former faculty member. He was always very friendly to me, though apparently very different to those he supervised. He is also Jewish by heritage and also practice. Our conversation started with enough pleasantries, turned to my sickness, and then finally to my new marital status. He had noticed that my signature changed recently and now includes "Zimmerman." I nodded and we chuckle for a moment. Then I have a flash of thought. Oh, no. Now my name says, "GERMAN." How am I perceived by my Jewish friends or those I will become acquainted with?

Days later I was telling my new name-giver this somewhat sheepishly. I actually was slightly concerned that association with me was now going to be hurtful in some way. When I was McNeely, I was Irish, which is just fun. No one cares. They think, "Hey! Ireland. It's lovely there. You like to drink, frolic in the clovers. Your people like potatoes." My husband sees my concern and soothes with, "If it's any consolation, my people left like a hundred years before all that. In fact, the people who would end up joining the Third Reich were the same ones who actually kicked my German ancestors out and forced them to move." So, I felt a little better about this. He continues, "We are Pennsylvania Dutch, so you know, we're not of the Nazi regime; we just pickle things and make good furniture."

And he's right. That was consolation enough.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The sweetest days of my life

It has been a hectic few weeks. On top of the busyness with work and school, I managed to squeeze in a family vacation with my new in-laws. I apparently have also seen a lot of movies based on the conversation I had with a co-worker today as he named one or two he hoped to see soon and then proceeded to ask me about five or six movies and whether I had seen them. So shoot me, we like movies, and they've been fun treats during our crazy weeks.

In all of this, we are figuring out this marriage thing, which honestly feels a lot more natural than I expected. Everyone tells you to wait for the arguments about toothpaste or the horror at seeing someone at their worst just after they've woken up. We are supposed to not be able to go to sleep and furiously watch our spouse snoring or frustrated at the complications from two independent adult lives and households merging. And I'm not saying those days aren't coming. But with the warnings and advice and magazines and all, I just didn't expect...well, I just did not know these would be the sweetest days of my life. I did not know these days would be so full of beauty and light.

The other day the beauty and wonder and sweetness got to me, and I shed a few tears. The tears were because of the delight, but they were also from the sense that this is how it is meant to be. This is what God intends. And I wept a little for those I know and those the articles and news stories are about who missed this experience--for those who settled, those who are not fully appreciated, those who find it hard to adore or respect their spouse, those who felt pressured to get married, those abandoned or broken by a spouse. I have said and I still say I would much rather be single than with someone I was only "meh" about or go through the heartbreak of these situations.

We sat down for a meal he cooked to get me through sickness and busyness. As I laced my fingers into his and began to pray, I earnestly thanked God for those moments together and this bit of glory here on earth.