Friday, June 24, 2011

On again, off again - but this time maybe settled

I haven't written much about the kids, out of respect for their privacy. They have clearly been impacted by Meagan's disease, Casey most severely because it comes right in the middle of his college education, Riley less so because he graduated in May. Casey was present for both of Meagan's events, Riley for the second and flew up immediately after the first. They have both been wonderful with their mom.

But we are in a phase of uncertainty and they know the spiral downward has not stopped. Riley had already planned on taking some time off before his graduate school in Architecture plans and live at home and work part-time (thanks to the offer of another friend) and travel. So it works out better for him; he can be by his mom's side, but also keep his life moving along. Fortunately the way our house is laid out (and due to it formerly being two houses) we can set it up almost like a duplex and the boys can have the south end. We re-jiggered rooms (I gave up my office so Meagan could use it as her studio, Casey took over her former studio and we converted it to his bedroom, Riley took over the former guest room and upper connected room), did some minor construction and remodel of the kitchen on that side and Riley is in the midst of a remodel of his spaces to create a bedroom and studio and will paint and redecorate the kitchen and living room on that side.

Casey though has been filled with uncertainty about what to do. He took last semester off to be with his mom and clearly (in a tragic sort of way) it paid off - he was here through both events and has been able to support her during the recovery process. But he has also been away from friends and it cost him a relationship, and while he has been here he has not been able to find something meaningful to sink his teeth into or a circle of friends for support. Combine that with coping emotionally with Meagan's condition and the not uncommon existential angst of his age, and it's been really hard for him.

It's not fair to have him put his life on hold, for an indeterminate amount of time, nor is it healthy emotionally. We of course are torn, we want him to live his life, yet Meagan also wants him by her side because she knows the seriousness of her disease. Up until recently he had planned on returning to school in late August for the Fall semester. It was as he said, the best of the bad choices. Although he didn't need it from us, we gave him permission/license to do this, and I have spent time and money creating options for him in terms of living accommodations, knowing he might change his mind. He asked Meagan two questions: what do you think I should do, and what do you want me to do? She was incredible and while internally she wanted him by her side, did what a mother should do and told him she wanted him to go back to school and move on with his life, and that we'd be able to use technology and visits to stay connected. It was very difficult emotionally to give him this freedom, and she hid the angst within her from him, so he would have the freedom to chose. It was very brave on her part.

But the world works in mysterious ways, and thanks to the generosity and caring of friends, it appears for now that the plans have changed. Thanks to the invitation of a friend of ours, he got involved in a summer intensive program at the UW in art, and it has reawakened his creative self, something at which he has always been very talented. He realized that returning to school would not enable him to continue to express himself that way, he is of too junior a standing to get the good studio arts classes. He doesn't want to lose that right now, which makes a lot of sense given where he is in life and with Meagan's situation. Secondly, again thanks to a friend, he has been given a job opportunity at an entry level. It will enable him to be around people and have the stimulation of the environment, the ability to meet colleagues and develop new relationships, acquire knowledge and experience, be productive and earn some money. That has pretty much sealed the deal and he informed us last night that he intends to stay here for now, and just focus on those two things, and not worry so much about the long-term and try to connect all the dots between what he does now and where it might take him and how it all fits with typical school/work progression. A sound decision by and for him I think.

Meagan is happy and relieved, even though he cautioned her things could change, that he could decide to go back Winter term (after he informed us, she could not help herself and told him of her angst and that she really wanted him to stay). I'm just happy he has a couple things to really dive into and be productive. Where his life and formal education goes from here is uncertain - but he is a smart, creative, hard-working young man and he will figure it out - and he has enough time to do so. I applaud his maturity and wisdom, in knowing himself and what he needs right now.

The mantra we have been living with these past 12 months has been around living in the present, not "future-tripping" (trying to anticipate future scenarios and dwelling on those potential consequences at the cost of not being fully emotionally and mentally present in the day we get to live today). As long as he, and Riley, can live each day fully present and engaged, and be with us while we go through this journey with Meagan, that seems enough to me. I am so very grateful to our friends for supporting us and them in so many ways - but the direct support of meaningful work has made a huge positive difference in our lives and helped settle a decision that needed to be made in a most satisfactory way.

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