autism,  COVID life,  cross-country,  high school

The lift

A few months ago, my cousin, my sister, and I were talking (through Marco Polo) about how much our lives had been disrupted by the pandemic. My cousin was supposed to move from her condo in Toronto to her place in Toronto in March, but COVID had put a hold on everything. The renovations on her new place hadn’t been finished yet, her current lease was up, and she was Air BnBing it in a totally new neighbourhood in Toronto. She was living out of a few boxes in a new condo for months, watching the pandemic unfold in Toronto. My sister’s husband was stuck in Bahrain (after leaving Saudi Arabia to say goodbye to his dying mother back in Canada) and my sister didn’t know when he was going to be able to get back home to her. In April, of course, my father passed away, and so me and my sister were still trying to deal with that. So much in all of our lives had changed in a few dramatic turns of events in just a short amount of time.

“But you know what?” my cousin said. “Humans don’t like change, but we adapt really quickly to our circumstances.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about what my cousin said recently. I feel like, despite all of the upheaval of the last few months, the daily uncertainty of every day, the very different lifestyle I’m living from the one I did back in February, that I’m sort of “getting used to it.” I’m sort of “getting used to” the waves of uncertainty. Do I like them? No. Do I get waves of anxiety every once in a while? Yes. But I’m getting used to having plans fall through. I’m getting used to having to accept new plans (or coming up with new ideas and plans on my own). Am I starting to adapt to our new circumstances?

Maybe.

I can’t say for sure. But I do know there has been a lot of good that has happened in the last few weeks and I’m inspired by it. I’ve been inspired by so many people around me–my friends, my family, my kids, my kids’ coaches and teachers. Despite all of the craziness (and anxiety, disappointment, and hurt I know everyone is still feeling), all of the people around me are making things happen in new ways–and supporting each other as they have to make new plans and do things in new ways. Here are just a few inspiring things I’ve seen lately:

  1. The Kids XC Season

J ran so well at his meet on Tuesday! He managed his fire drill anxiety like a champ and you can see it in his time. Tuesday’s meet was only a 3K, but his mile split from last week was 8:37 and he ran a 7:50 split on Tuesday. We were so excited to see this J Beck run!

It’s been a really different XC season, with a very different feel. Usually there’s a big “family feel” between all of the boys at the meets, but this year because of COVID, the team is essentially “split up” into 4 groups and 2 groups sometimes run at different locations (or meet days) than the other 2. Tuesday a few boys from the varsity team came to cheer on J’s group. J’s teammate C from the varsity team even ran with J for the warm up (which always melts my heart–C always finds J at track meets and makes sure to warm up with him there too). Despite everything that’s going on, I think J is starting to adjust. The coaches and coordinators are trying to make this the best experience possible for the kids (by tweaking meet sizes and race heats) to make sure all of the kids still get to run. I know it’s hard for everyone, but I’m really grateful for all of the work everyone is putting into this season to make it work.

W also ran really well on Tuesday!

2. Virtual Marathons

On September 5, I ran my very first marathon. It’s something I had been planning to do since the end of last December, especially since 2020 was the year I was going to turn 40. I had a few other friends (Mike and Angie) who were also training for their first marathons and planning to run the Fargo marathon in May too. Over the first few months, we commiserated about training, we shared our frustrations about the postponement of the marathon to August. We talked about our concerns about running in August with COVID. And then the race got cancelled. Angie and I decided we’d sign up for the virtual and I ran mine September 5, and Angie ran hers September 12. 26.2 miles is a long way to run by yourself without any competitors. I was really humbled (and grateful) for all of the support from friends and family (both in person and virtual) who helped cheer me on. Mike ran the first 8 miles with me and my coach Mark biked the whole distance with me. It wasn’t the marathon experience I was expecting back when I made the decision in December, but it was still a great experience. I’m so inspired by everyone’s support.

Mile 24. Those last two miles you guys! Ugh!

It felt so good to pay that support forward to Angie when she ran her race. She is a warrior!

J was SO excited to cheer Angie on. He wasn’t nearly as excited to cheer me on (haha!)
Seriously, this woman is incredible!

3. Teachers, coaches, paras, everyone!

First day of School 2020

A few days before school started, J’s special ed teacher called me up saying that she just felt like she should reach out to me. She asked me how things were going and I said “fine” and she said “are you sure?” and then started crying that I had a rough encounter with J’s pediatrician. We are in the process of trying to get guardianship for J (J turns 18 next month!) and what I thought would be an easy request from J’s doctor turned out to be not easy at all. His doctor didn’t feel like he could give the documentation needed without certain test results (like IQ and vocational skill testing) and suddenly, I was in a mad scramble reaching out to people (like J’s new developmental disability case manager) trying to find some sort of assessment or documentation that could help us out. J’s special ed teacher assured me that “we would figure this out” and that she’d be on the case, finding documentation at school that would help. I feel like this is just one example of the many people in J’s life right now that are going above and beyond to help our family out and to help J feel the most “normal” he can in this “abnormal” times. I’ve had some great conversations with his coaches too about his needs right now, and everyone has been so accommodating.

4. Zoom

All dressed up and waiting for my cousin to walk down the aisle!

I’ll be the first to admit, the first few weeks our family was thrown into the world of Zoom, we were all reeling. I had to take two ibuprofens after every day of virtual school just to tame the pounding headache from being on screens for so long. Virtual school was stressful in the beginning. Sometimes links didn’t work. Sometimes we couldn’t log on because the connection was overwhelmed. But after the last few months, I’ve learned to hate Zoom less. I’ve come to accept it for the connection it gives me to my friends and family. My father’s funeral was done through Zoom. We were able to “come together” as a family even though the borders were (and still are) closed. Zoom is the way I still connect to my church community. Zoom lets me connect with my neighbour who moved up to Winnipeg last year (has it been a year already!?). Zoom let us attend my cousin’s wedding on September 5th (because the borders are still closed). I want to be with friends and family face to face, but I’m learning to accept and appreciate Zoom too.

I know that we’re all going through our one things right now, and that life in a lot of ways isn’t want we want it to be. I’m so grateful for all of the support from friends and family around me–and all of the inspiration they give me–despite all of the things they have going on. So many people are giving all they can right now, a perfect effort for imperfect plans and circumstances. And that’s pretty powerful.

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One Comment

  • Jacqueline Thibodeau

    Thank you for sharing this! It was really powerful to hear your conversation with J’s special education teacher. Having a caring support system can make all the difference in navigating the barriers that you described.

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