Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Technicolor Salvation

It's official. The family bed has been revived at our house. I am now sharing my California king-size bed with Miguel and Maya. Eight years after Miguel left our intentional family bed, both kids are sleeping with me. Maya joined me two weeks after Verna died after waking up two nights in a row in a state of terror. She would not be comforted until I came to bed and she was tucked next to me.

Miguel signed on last week in that casual and coy preteen way. "Dad," he said, lying next to his sister as I read to her, "your Tempurpedic mattress is so comfortable."

"You can stay here anytime you want," I said.

"OK, I'll just stay."

And he did. Given what has happened to him this year I was surprised he didn't express the need to be closer sooner. He was mugged in the late spring; his mother died at the end of August; and not quite two weeks ago one of his friends, a 13-year old eighth grader, committed suicide on October 10 (10/10/10).

Miguel spent that weekend with his best friend, who lives two or three houses away from the boy who killed himself, so Miguel saw him all three days, including his last day. I saw the boy twice, once on Friday when I dropped Miguel off on Friday and tossed the football to the boys, and on Sunday when I picked up Miguel. The boy jokingly and harmlessly put a neighborhood cat on top of my car before we left.

When I found out on Monday the 11th what had happened I was shocked (as was everyone in the community), but I was also concerned about Miguel. Would the roiling emotions swirling inside of him surge out of control? He and I talked, though I wasn't sure exactly what to ask him.

"Miguel, how are you feeling?"

"I was a little depressed when I found out about-----"

"Depressed enough to hurt yourself?"

"No," he said.

"Would you tell me if you had anything planned?"

"No," he answered. "But I am not planning anything."

Whew. There have been two parent meetings with school officials, group counseling, grief counseling, interventions, including having several students taken into psychiatric custody, and an open door policy at the school for the community. Miguel's home room teacher phoned me to say Miguel was being watched. I spoke with the principal and the school counselor. I met with Miguel's therapist, spoke to her twice on the phone, and Miguel saw her once.

A full court press of assistance is in place. Everyone says Miguel is doing fine. And they will alert me immediately if he changes. He is eating well, playing with friends, participating in sports, and doing well in school.

But, still, a nagging fear gnaws at my shaky psyche. What if reverberates over and over in my mind. So I bought two tickets to tomorrow night's National League Championship Series game in San Francisco because Miguel (and I) deserves the bubbling excitement of a playoff game in our backyard.

I am not normally pessimistic, but my optimistic nature has been battered this year. So it was Maya, as usual, who provided me a measure of comfort. She came to me last week and said, "Daddy, I had a dream last night about you and Mommy."

"What was it about?" I asked.

"There was green. And red," she said. "It was beautiful."

I still don't know what nocturnal images Maya saw in her sleep, but the coupling of colors was oddly comforting. The smile on her face and twinkle in her eyes made me feel that, yes, this too shall pass and the beauty of a preschooler's dream can conquer all and provide me strength to cope. Something like that.

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