Down syndrome · family · Findlay · wife

Crow (Mother’s Day post)

There’s this picture I was hoping to share, but it’s buried in an iCloud somewhere and since I’m no good at technology, I’m sure it’ll float around like a drop of silver iodide in the internet ether to eventually precipitate elsewhere.

Silver iodide is what meteorologists seed clouds with to make them rain (fun fact: Kurt Vonnegut’s brother, Bernard, invented the process).

Clouds are rain and it seems strange we need chemicals to wring them of their tears, but sometimes tears don’t come of their own, I suppose.

So this picture is simple: it’s a crow’s feather left on the balcony of our recovery room the day Findlay Cooper was born.  Sounds portentous, and maybe pretentious if you don’t believe me, but the truth is when Jenn and I finally ferried Finn up to the recovery room after a confusion of squawk-some nurses, we were met by this crow who was quixotically attempting  to enter into our space via picture window, repeatedly pecking the glass and beating his wings in useless fashion.

I took a picture.  By that point, the bird was gone leaving only a feather.  Which is dumbly poetic.  Stupidly poetic.  I have–in this iCloud somewhere–a picture of a lone black feather sitting on the sill of Finn’s recovery room.

The pediatrician entered and I may have shown her the picture.  I exclaimed: ‘Wow–we had a hard time downstairs with those nurses.’  She kept a straight face and quietly told us she would duly explain the nurses’ concern in time; she then excused everyone but me and Jenn from the room to examine Finn.  Finn was floppy, sleepy; and when the doctor held him stomach-side down, he just laid limp and I started worrying ‘O God his brain is deprived of oxygen.’  Dr. Edwards simply said: “Look–I don’t like it that the nurses downstairs don’t tell you their suspicions.  But they told me–and I think they’re right–Finn has Down Syndrome.”

I can’t put into words how that night felt.  I’m working on it, mind you.  But this was a surprise and that night was excruciating and the clouds were certainly wrung of their rain.

I laid on that makeshift bed dads are meant to lie on next to their wife’s bed and I didn’t cry.  I just fell asleep.  Again and again.  And again.  

The one memory I’ll forever keep is waking up–2 a.m. maybe–and Jenn is propping up Finn who, mind you, can only cry incompletely for five seconds at a time; Jenn is saying: “Shh, shh.  It’s ok, Finn.  It’s ok.”  And Jenn is so sad, I can only fall asleep again.

This all may seem like a sad story.  But it’s not.  We left the hospital after a few days’ stay.  Cayde and I got Gatorade from the lounge and we pinched garlic flowers off the society blossoms and bravely ate them and I played The National’s ‘Fake Empire’ on the car-ride home.

That damn crow.  That damn feather!  Nothing can erase that night, but–then again–nothing can erase the time since either.

Crows are ubiquitous here.  By virtue of their commonness, I don’t think their shed feathers mean anything.  It felt like it though that day, especially when Jenn held the limp rag of Finn and shushed him into sleep and I meanwhile slept against the plate-glass window that a crow  greatly tried to break with his bill and we just felt simply lost.

Listen: I love Finn tremendously.  I would have things no other way.  I kissed Jenn to bed a coupla hours ago and Finn sleeps soundly.  I’ve gotten over this diagnosis.  I’ll never quite get over this process, though: it’s strange and profound and dizzy.  It’s Mother’s Day in five minutes and I’m writing to beat the clock because this is my gift to Jenn.

Jenn held Finn in the middle of our most unassured night and she still calmed our son to sleep.  If that does not warrant a ‘Happy Mother’s Day’, I don’t know what does.

I love you, Jenn.  Happy Mother’s Day, Sweetheart. 

Cayden · parenting

Turkey Vulture Plus Condor Equals

vulture:condorI’m lying face-down on the kitchen floor, which sounds very much like some culinary accident. But it’s not. My arms are outspread and there’s a measuring tape trailing from my left hand some nine feet into the living room. Cayde is perched on my back.

“So how many feet is this,” I ask wiggling the fingers of my right hand, “To the end of that measuring tape?”

“15 feet!”

“Excellent. And what does that equal?”

“Turkey vulture plus condor!”

This is bedtime story time which has recently morphed into Google image search/science lesson. Every night, Cayde comes up with a topic and we research it on the web. Tonight it was turkey vultures, which necessarily led to condors, and with so many facts about wingspan the measuring tape got dragged out and I wound up lying on the kitchen floor, a prone turkey vulture on the linoleum. I don’t mind.

Cayden can sometimes be difficult which is code for ‘Cayden is difficult.’ He’s a smart kid, and that has its challenges. But when he’s engaged, there’s something fantastic in his particular combination of adult affect and otherwise child-like curiosity. Like when he tells me we need to do some math and figure out what condor plus vulture equals.

Before bedtime, Cayde and I plant a sage–a nice Peruvian variety all silver with purple flowers. He helps shovel in the dirt then gets distracted by a piece of chalk on the porch.

‘Oh-Daddy! I want to write a funny sentence!’

‘Ok.’ I’m still smarting from when Cayde got mad at me for a lecture about ‘not tearing up the coral-bell flowers’ some weeks back. He promptly wrote on the sidewalk: “I love my Mommy so much!” Then he drew a picture of me with sharp teeth followed by the words: ‘I hate you Daddy!’

The hose erased the picture, but the words remain hard to erase from memory.

Tonight, Cayde wrote: “I hat you, Daddy!” And he drew a picture of a hat.

“Isn’t that funny, Daddy?”

He smiles, and I gladly accept his apology. I now gracefully accept my current role as face-down turkey vulture, a wingspan unbelievable.