In Colorado Now

So…we did it, we live in Colorado now.

It’s a long story for a long night; the buying and selling of houses; packing, selling and giving away of the many possessions we collected over our decade in Oregon; flights and drives back-and-forth between the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies; the rebuilding of a new medical team for Lydia; and learning a whole new grocery store layout (which you know I get anxious about.) But we did it, and I’d have to say that we like our new home, though we miss our Oregon friends dearly.

Lydia has started going to preschool in Denver. It is a private school for children who have blindness or low-vision and is the opposite of the inclusive model that I hope we will both be brave enough for someday. But when we visited this school for the first time, and we sat in the soft light of a quiet room with light-up toys that Lydia could activate, and there were these little chimes that made Lydia smile…For the first time I was able to see how school might work for Lydia. The interviewing teacher spoke gently to Lydia and patiently waited for her to respond. Then when Lydia didn’t move, the teacher touched her foot and Lydia wiggled her toes. The teacher said, “ah, she found me with her feet!” I filled out the enrollment paperwork that day. 

Lydia has a full curriculum and a team of specialist teachers. There are four other kids in her class. They have circle time, sing songs, explore the smells, textures and sounds of the big accessible garden, listen to stories and feel the pages of texture books, practice taking turns, get covered in clays, paints, and experiment with all kinds of musical instruments. It is a rich sensory experience. But Lydia’s very favorite part of the day is snack time. The girl loves to eat. One of her teachers said she had never seen Lydia smile as big as the day she ate some pink frosting from their class’s birthday cupcakes.

Her vision has been improving, thanks to the school. I don’t know how to explain it exactly, but I can see that she SEES things now. Mostly she prefers to look to her left. She will find things on the right if given enough time, but she’ll only glance to that side. We are working on it. It is exciting to know she is improving.

I’ve been calling Lydia my little “Endorphin Dolphin.” When I bury my nose in her collarbone or nibble her long fingers, I can feel the telepathic sparkle pop in my brain and shimmer down to my toes. I get warm just thinking about it. She makes me incredibly happy during these moments. I’m pretty sure she is magic for real.

Jack and I have been going to school too. Jack attends the elementary across the street from our house and is in FIRST grade! That kid was made for school. He is doing fantastic there. He brought home a “book” he’d written the other day. It was about a kid who time-travelled. The scenes from the past were in black-and-white, how clever of him. As for me, I just finished my Certified Nursing Assistant classes. Colorado has a program where I can become a CNA and work for a home health agency with Lydia as my client.

Mark has settled into his new job here. He continues his 20+ year passion for landscape architecture/parks planning, only instead of PNW forests this time it is the mountainous prairie of the high desert. He is enjoying the people he works with and the new landscape. We are having a lot of fun exploring. 

My parents moved with us too. It is delightful to see the closeness of the kids to their grandparents. We feel very lucky. They constructed an apartment in the basement where they can have their own space as they need it. We like to have our dinners together and mostly I cook (for better or worse). Once a week  we all pile down the stairs for dinner “at their place.” Best commute ever.  

So we are doing good.

P.S. I asked Mark to write a little about how he seeing things for Lydia here. His words are:

“The move for Lydia alone is remarkable considering the treatment and care she now receives, perhaps it is the pull of a large City like Denver, but the neurologists, health coordinators, speech therapists, eye specialists, communication specialists, teachers, and all, really seem to have Lydia more figured out. It makes us feel like she is truly cared for and so we relax a little bit knowing that it is not all on us. Perhaps, that is why I can feel the magic in her now, as the EEG’s, MRI’s, revolving seizure drugs, the whole crisis management mode recedes; I can see my girl wholly for the first time, as her smile widens ever more, like a waking yawn, she sends sparkles through my brain shimmering down to my toes.”