Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Knot

Colleen attended her weekly therapy session yesterday.  Although the sessions are tough to work through, she keeps going back.  Week after week she goes because she wants to better herself.  Each counsel is never without a massive amount of sweat, a few tucked away tears and an abundance of deep sole searching and reflection.  Her therapist is skilled; she's focused and without-a-doubt, one hard core mamba-jamba.  She pushes Colleen to open up and confront it all. . . ego, worry, pain, peace - you name it.  Although it's a tough place to find herself, these sessions have become a quiet place to retreat.  A place that strips her down to the core; where she's forced to face it all and powers through until she gets to the good stuff.  You know that stuff you realize you're made of when you're caught in moments of challenge and pain.  Yup, she goes there.  At least once, sometimes twice a week.  And she's better off for it.  Her therapy may not be with a counselor of the typical sort, but she is good at what she does and knows how to reach deep into the depths of Colleen and suck the stink out.  Colleen doesn't lie on the quintessential leather couch in the corner, she actually chooses to lie on a thin layered mat; it's the only thing between her and the hardwood floor of the room where she goes to "let it all go".  If you haven't gathered by now, yoga = Colleen's saving grace. 

There's a pose in yoga called, The Knot.  This pose helps to open the heart and throat chakras; considered by believers to be the focal points for the reception and transmission of energy.  Breathe through these chakras and you open up yourself to work through some really tough, rough, good stuff.   The pose calls for you to lie on your stomach and thread your right arm over your left (and again left over right) and place your head on the floor just above where your arms cross.  Like you're hugging yourself with your head and arms parallel to the floor.  After Colleen's session yesterday, she told me that throughout the day, she kept going back to that stretch and called up the power and strength that she felt in that pose.  She said, "I move and stretch and hold those 'you've-got-to-be-kiddin'-me' poses for Lilly, because (right now) she can't move her little body and do that for herself."  Colleen tearfully told her yoga instructor, after class, that she feels guilty for taking 90 minutes out of her day to strengthen and develop her physical being when she doesn't help Lilly stretch and gain strength for that same amount of time.  Her therapist (her yoga instructor) told her that she has to care for herself first before she can help Lilly (not to mention that Lil' is three and would be a pretty-pissed-peanut if she had to hold poses that long).  I guess it didn't help that she played David Gray's White Ladder and Slow Motion albums in class (both are the soundtracks to Colleen's pregnancy and months after Lilly was born - isn't it crazy how music can bring you right back in it).  It was an emotional class but a much-needed reminder that Lilly needs her mama to be strong and with-it physically and mentally.  I've had Colleen promise me that she'll continue her yoga sessions through Lilly's recovery period.  It's what will center her and keep her connected and strong.

I need to remind Colleen that although she may not  stretch Lilly out for 90 minutes, she does put an enormous amount of time and love into that little girl.  I've never, ever, in my life met another mother that works so hard to give her children the opportunity to become the best they can be.  I'm not kiddin' - this mama works it OUT!  She continues to amaze me with her grace and selflessness.  I asked Colleen to snap a photo of her calendar.  I know, it's kinda random, but I was shocked last May when I looked at her schedule.  15 out of 21 business days during the month of May, Colleen was at one appointment or another for Lilly.

I love that the card on her fridge says, "Gardening, yoga, bubble baths, medication - and I still want to smack somebody!"

She continually takes Lilly to physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.  She has recently  added visits with neurosurgeons, opthamologists, orthotists, and specialized therapists at the Down syndrome Clinic in Portland to her list.  Oh, and in the middle of all of that, she prepared for and spoke on behalf of Lilly at a United Way fundraiser (ya, and I complain about not having spare time - jeez). When she's not taking Lilly to appointments, she's on the phone or writing letters to ensure that Lilly has continuous coverage with therapy prior to and after surgery.  It's only because Matt and Colleen have fought so hard that Lilly is still being allowed to continue with her therapies beyond what was allotted for the year.  I often feel waves of guilt for having Henry and the schedule that we have.  Here, my only worry is if I'll be able to fit in a trip to Winco, with a play date, a workout and be home in time to fix something for dinner.  It's so easy to take things for granted and sweat the small stuff.  I look at Colleen as such an example, and each time I'm around her I learn something new about motherhood.  Her patience and the love she has for her kiddos is more than inspiring . . . she's helped me become the mother that I am today.  And although she has a schedule that would make most people spin, she some how pulls it off and does it all without complaining.  She really is my hero, and we could all learn a lot from her example. 
Speaking of heroes. . . I've been calling Lilly the Bionic Woman these days.  She's going to be ultra strong after this surgery, and she'll look like a halo-wearing superhero in the months to follow.  I think we'll have to make her a cape and bedazzle her walker to fit the part . . . watch out, she'll be cruising the streets and saving lives before we know it.  On the pre-surgery front: Lilly had her non-invasive halo fitted two Fridays ago - October 8th.  Lilly wore the halo for 10 minutes, during which time she sang songs from the Sound of Music (oh, you don't even know how in love Lilly is with that classic film - oh, and you have to check out this video if you've never seen Lilly's favorite version of the Sound of Music) in between fist-fulls of gold fish crackers.  "Long live Maria von Trapp and Pepperidge Farms!!!", Colleen said.  Colleen also said that Lilly smiled and swayed back and forth attempting to dance while she was waiting for the doctor to do his thang.  The orthotist recommended that she get a "boy cut" (now she'll really look like Maria von Trapp) due to the halo's confinement.  Lil's hairdresser is also on the lookout for cute pixie cuts - just to make the transition into the halo a bit less stressful.

Colleen and Matt have been disappointed in the communication with the pediatric neurology department at OHSU.  They have not spoken with the neurosurgeon in two months and, apparently, phone calls to his NP are not being returned.  Colleen said that she's "starting to get her mother-bear-on, yo!"  Oh, they better watch it!  M and C have pre and post surgery questions: how do they alter her clothes, how short do they cut her hair?  More importantly, how should they expect Lilly to respond to surgery, medication, halo . . . ?  Lilly's surgery is set for November 5th and M and C would like to be prepared for what lies ahead.  Um, ya.  I don't think that's too much to ask.

Until then, the Roscoe clan is enjoying these beautiful fall days.  It's been nice that the surgery will not be until November (it was originally set for September); otherwise, they would not have as easily enjoyed days like this:
Are you kiddn' me with this garden!

 Lil' pickin' peas
Lilly and Bear Bear enjoying pumpkins picked from their very own garden

I know that in life we all encounter knots.  I'd like to think, in my Polly Anna sort-of-way, that most knots are a good thing.  Without the presence of knots in our life we'd not have the ability to appreciate the times when our line is smooth and without much tension.  Without a few knots we may also spin out of control.  After all, anchors are tied with knots, balloons are tied with knots and rock climbers rely on knots for their safety.  I'm going to take Colleen's lead and suggest that the best way to confront the toughest knots is to breathe through the tangle and mindfully untwist your way through the line.  Take the time to collect your thoughts for a plan moving forward and, in the end, you'll be able to stand up straighter and hold on better than ever before.


  1. Tears. You are such a beautiful voice for your sister. And I'm so sorry for what she is going through, but she sounds so, so, so very strong. Love makes you strong, eh? I just want to take that Lilly and hold her, read her books, kiss the top of her head and tell her I'm sorry she has to wear that damn brace. Ha ha. This too shall pass. You are an amazing aunt, Kate.

  2. I am a frickin' mess after reading this, Kate. Matt, Colleen and Lilly are incredible teachers, each full of their own amazing strength and grace. Thank you for so beautifully documenting their journey and their lessons for us all. Keep the blogs coming!

  3. you bring such joy to my heart when i'am having a bad day i read a little more