|Christmas Eve Morning|
A couple people mentioned that going to Duluth for Christmas would be a nice escape from all the stress we've experienced lately. Ha! Yes, going to Duluth was an excellent distraction. I think it made Christmas as bearable as it could be. There were different things to look at, to do and to occupy our minds. We had our families around continuously for support. But the two things that are causing me the most pain, won't ever go away. They are two things you don't get to escape from. Autism and the death of a child.
Max's mind doesn't work like most other people's. He has no interest in opening presents and the mere suggestion of it seems to stress him out. He won't even sit on the floor next to us while we open presents. Even if he did desire to open them, he wouldn't know what to do once he had them in front of him. He doesn't understand how to play with most toys and wants nothing to do with anything new, this includes new toys, places and people. Fortunately he did really well being in a new environment. But it took a lot of work to make sure things went smoothly. Certain foods, toys and activities all have to be readily available to Max to ensure happiness. I am constantly assessing Max's mood and looking for anything that could be a trigger to a meltdown. Thought must go into everything. Relaxing is a relative term. Autism doesn't take a break just because it's a holiday or because you go out of town. In many respects, it's more obvious, more work and more stress. It's situation like this that make Max's differences very obvious. And it makes me very sad.
The pain we feel from losing Ellie is always with us. It doesn't matter where we go, what we do or who we are with. It is always there. Being in Duluth, made me think of all the things we would never get to do with her. We will never take her on a trip and show her all the amazing beautiful things out there in the world. Duluth is the place where Dave and I went to college and met. It's hard to be up there and know we won't ever bring her up there and show her where we met, which dorms used to be ours or take her to eat at Pizza Luce where Dave used to work.
Even though Duluth is full of amazing, happy memories, they don't distract from missing her. I see here everywhere I go. We stayed at a condo right on the lake. The weather was incredible, especially for Duluth, and the lake was so calm the first two days. We watched the sun rise the last morning we were there. It was pink and simply beautiful. As I watched the sun climb through the clouds, I couldn't help thinking it was Ellie. It's hard to explain but it's moments like that when Ellie seems so close yet so far away. I know Ellie will always be with us. But when you can't see your baby, touch them, smell them or hear them, they feel so far away.
So yes, going to Duluth for Christmas was a nice distraction. But certain things just can't be left behind. We will forever carry Max's autism with us. And losing a child is like carting around the biggest, heaviest, bulkiest piece of luggage you can ever imagine. I hate lugging it around. But in some ways, the pain, it makes me feel closer to her.