It’s been four long, horrible and painful months since Ellie left us. It’s been four months since we left our girl on the hospital bed and walked down a dark deserted hallway and into our new life. It’s been four months and it still doesn’t seem like it happened to me. I know Ellie is gone. Obviously she isn’t here with me anymore. But those last terrible 25 hours, don’t seem like they belong to me. I know they have to. Somehow, they seem like someone else’s nightmare.
On Ellie’s one month angelversary, we trudged through Thanksgiving. On Ellie’s two month angelversary, we suffered through Christmas. On her three month angelversary, I spent almost the entire day in bed, barely able to move, speak or think. So when we planned to go to the Wisconsin Dells over her four month angelversary, I was legitimately concerned about the success of the trip…
A Short Film: Documentary
Written and Directed by Tiffany
“Why You Shouldn’t Ever Take Your Autistic Two Year Old to the Wisconsin Dells on the Four Month Anniversary of Your Daughter’s Death.”
I’m still working on the title…
After three and a half hours in the car Daddy, Mommy with a severe headache and Son, who only slept for about twenty minutes, arrive in an overflowing parking lot. Daddy heads in to get keys and returns with a map- a map to find the room.
Family drives through parking lots and find last available parking spot. After two trips with luggage cart, they start unloading their things into their room, which smells like stale donuts and bacon. They unload one large suitcase that contains parent’s clothing, one small suitcase contain Son’s clothing, one small suitcase containing Son’s books/ toys/ fidgets/ Wonder Pets DVDs, one port-a-crib, one booster seat, one small cooler with Son safe food, two beach bags full of towels/ cameras/ a lot of other crap, diaper bag and large plastic tub with Son safe and approved food, silverware and cups.
Family is planning on staying for two nights.
Son eats snack after he finds ladder on the bunk beds. It is discovered that Mommy forgot Cheerios but Son is quickly pacified with blueberries and Puffs (kiddie crack).
Mommy and Daddy examine map. It is also discovered that Family’s room can’t possibly be any further from all waterparks, activities and food.
Small bag is packed and family heads out.
After navigating two hotels worth of hallways, the family finds the Dry Indoor Playplace. Mommy discovers that all seating is directly in front of the toddler area in which they allow one year old girls to play and has a large turtle to play on (Mommy and Daddy used to call Daughter turtle). Loud sounds of suction fill the air from the “ball fountain.” Son does not seem to like the loud noise.
Mommy and Daddy take turns squeezing through playplace with Son, who is mostly interested in moving the soft foam balls from place to place. Anyone who disturbs this process is promptly met with screams and tears.
One staircase, a bridge and hallway later the family arrives at restaurant. Mommy asks waitresses if they have allergy information. Mommy is met with blank stares. Mommy explains Son has milk allergy and she needs to know what he can eat. Mostly she needs to know if he can eat the fries. Mommy is told no. No to allergy information, and no to fries. Mommy thinks, “Holy Hell! No fries?!”
Family sits down and begins to feed Son the standbys they brought. Waitress checks fry box and discovers the fries are safe. Yes! Yes! Yes!
Many, many, many hallways later, family arrives back at room to change into swimsuits. Mommy must “brush” (a new OT therapy) Son before changing him into swimsuit. Brushing and joint compressions should be occurring every two hours. It will soon be seen that Mommy forgets.
Hallways. So many freaking hallways. Family walks and walks. More hallways. More walking.
Family finds last available table. At this point Mother has noticed height restrictions on tube rides exclude Son from participation. Family excitedly heads towards the water and find it to be FREEZING COLD. Son immediately starts to shiver and shake. Son discovers water to be dripping or pouring from nearly everything overhead. He is obviously displeased.
Son climbs up structure once. There is one slide he is interested in. Lifeguard says he must go down large tub slide by himself. Mommy laughs and steers Son in other direction. Son finds small slides. He is amused for small amount of time.
Son spends the rest of time wandering around aimlessly. Mommy spends the rest of the time trying not to stare at the one year old in her blue and pink ruffled swimsuit and her chubby arm wrinkles. Mommy is not successful and fears she will soon be considered creepy. As if sensing this, Son decides “all done.”
Back through the hallways. This time Mommy and Daddy notice the “trashiness” of fellow tourists and their lack of modesty. This however, provides amusement for the Mommy and Daddy that must now carry the Son who has suddenly refused to walk.
Son is bathed and jammied. It is about 45 minutes before bedtime and Son has freetime. Son intends on using this time to try to escape out of the room or climb the ladder in his room to the top bunk, which his parent’s discovered- he can do. Son does not respond to the word No.
Many tears later, Mommy bribes Son with Puffs to sit on couch with Daddy and watch Wonder Pets. Son eats Puffs, gives Mommy the finger, and gets off the couch.
After a while it is time for bed.
Hotel Room. Next Morning.
Daddy experiences oatmeal disaster in microwave and Son then refuses to eat oatmeal. Mommy tries not think about what they were doing four months ago. Family heads down only two hallways to coffee shop and buys Cheerios (Praise the Lord!) and breakfast for Mommy and Daddy. Mommy and Daddy eat and try to kill time until ten am when the waterparks open. Mommy thinks, “Ten a.m.?!” Meanwhile, Son screams outside of bedroom door that has been locked to prevent ladder climbing. When the appointed hour arrives, the family dons swimsuits and heads out.
As the Mommy and Daddy walk down hallways they carry Son, who again refuses to walk. Should son be set down, louding screaming and stomping ensues. He does however continuously recite the Animal ABCs.
After several hours, days and weeks of walking, the family arrives.
Family easily finds table. Family heads to water and find it to be pleasantly warm. However, something does not sit well with Son and he refuses to be put down in the toddler area.
Family moves over to the wave pool. Fear and terror abound.
After stepping on a used band-aid, family makes a quick exit.
It is like the movie, The Shining. But with more hallways, more strollers, more little girls, more running adolescent boys, more inattentive parents and a lot less clothing. (red) Rum is definitely sounding good to Mommy.
Family finds a table not next to the toddler area where there are bouncy swings which Daughter would have adored. Son charges toward water, obviously excited. Son steps into water. Son cries when he finds it to be FREEZING COLD too! More dripping water from overhead.
Son wanders without purpose until he finds the steps. Son spends a large amount of time going up the two steps and back down again. Daddy takes Son down the one slide he can go down. Son hates it. Son says, “all done” and Mommy steps on used band-aid.
Family makes quick exit.
More effing hallways.
Son refusing to walk. More Animal ABCs.
Daddy calls reception desk. He says they need to check out, due to a family emergency. Daddy and Mommy both know there will be a family emergency if they don’t leave NOW. Family quickly showers and packs.
Two luggage cart trips later, family is packed up.
Mommy and Son sit in car while Daddy checks out.
Daddy drives car to other side of resort so Son can play at Indoor Playplace before sitting in the car and family can eat lunch.
Son and Daddy play while Mommy sits at the ONLY available spot- the padded bench around the toddler area. Mommy tries not to watch the light haired, fuzzy headed one year old toddling around in HER footie pajamas. Mommy is ok until the girl starts babbling and smiling. Mommy’s eyes well up with tears. Mommy tries to focus on watching Son who is obsessing about the foam balls and stimming like crazy.
Mommy notices another baby, belonging to what appears to be a fifteen year old mother. Baby starts crying. Young Mother hands the baby to who appears to be Grandpa and walks away.
Tears escape Mommy’s eyes. Mommy quickly wipes them away.
Mommy hears the toddler’s mother say to her, “Come here Ellie! Ellie. Come here Ellie!”
Mommy loses it. Mommy cannot stop tears.
Daddy notices Mommy. Daddy decides it time for lunch.
Mommy positions herself so most of the restaurant is to her back. She can only see two teenage girls. In her periphery is a large group including one year old girl. One year girl’s voice makes it very hard for Mommy to concentrate.
Family orders and begins to eat. Son reciting Animal ABCs and Wonder Pets.
One year old girl’s Father pushes empty stroller into Mommy’s site. Mommy notices blanket sitting in empty car seat. It is the same blanket that Mommy and Daddy left Daughter’s body on four months ago. It is the same blanket that covered Daughter’s casket at her funeral.
Mommy feels the world closing in around her.
Family finishes meal and heads to car.
Scene Twenty One
Montage of thrashing toddler, sleeping toddler, Animal ABCs and nuk finding attempts.
Scene Twenty Two
Family car pulls into driveway.
Mommy vows to never ever do that again.
Daddy starts unloading car.
And in case you are wondering…
"A. A. Alligator.
B. B. Bumble Bee.
C. C. Caterpillar.
D. D. Duck…"