Halifax has become a second home and a bit of a safe haven for TC and me. Not only is it one of the sweetest little maritime cities in the world, it's far, far away from the drama and stress of home. It's a place where we're allowed to be silly. It's a place where we can be "TC and Abby: the married couple," and not "TC and Abby: the sad couple from the news." It's a place where the only thing we're responsible for is TC's recovery. And while we find it extraordinarily difficult to be away from our son, Halifax is a place where we both enjoy a lot of freedom.
These days my personal definition of freedom is time. Time to breathe. Time to exercise. Time to write. Time to just be alone. I still experience tiny pangs of guilt when these opportunities arise. Months of go, go, go start to convince you that a whirlwind lifestyle is the norm and that your attention should always be divided. But there is much to be said for simply appreciating and seizing a moment of freedom when it presents itself.
When I seize a moment of freedom, it also allows TC an opportunity to do the same. With each passing day, he becomes more confident and better able to navigate his day-to-day life independently. Sure, there are setback days - days in which his speech suddenly fails or his head hurts or he's feeling confused - but overall, his abilities have grown tremendously over the past few months. I attribute much of this to the confidence he's gained at the InteRACT program here in Halifax. TC's grown increasingly assertive in all situations, from reclaiming his friendships to setting rules for Jack to fixing things around the house. And if, in a moment of habit, I attempt to order for him at a restaurant, he shoots me a very stern glare. "Honey, I have to practice these things," he insists.
He's right. And I know it's true. I've written about it before, this phase of recovery in which the caregiver learns to let go and relinquish control, but thinking about sending him back into this very big, sometimes mean world still gives me a little knot in my stomach. I don't want him to experience any more hardship. And I recognize my own fear about having the rug swept out from underneath me again. I don't want us to feel any more pain, but attempting to exert control over the future is an artificial solution. We'll simply roll with the punches as they come. What other choice is there?
Competing schedules mean that I won't be able to stay with TC during his entire stay at the program. In a week and a half I return home and TC will have a chance to further reclaim his independence. He will be sorely missed at my family's annual reunion at the beach and I will miss him like crazy, but it gives me comfort to envision him at the beach with us next summer: strong, healthy, and happy. He's putting in the hard work now and hopefully it will continue to pay off in a big way.
We're grateful for many things this Independence Day. We're grateful for TC's amazing progress thus far. We're grateful to still be fighting the good fight (with one hell of an army behind us). We're grateful for the ups and down and the highs and lows because these contrasts always sharpen our perspective. We're grateful to all of you for allowing us in and lending us your hearts this year.
And we're grateful to be Americans - with fabulous neighbors to the north who don't mind us crashing on their couch once in awhile.
Happy 4th of July!