Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bound For the Wolf Den

I'm both packing and unpacking tonight as I prepare for my unplanned visit to see Wolf. Flying out at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning for a full day of travel as I'm unpacking from our trip to Homer and packing in advance for two weeks of work/vacation aboard the Alaska Marine Highway system, I'm not sure just where I'm coming from or going to at this point.

To make matters worse, the cottonwoods are flinging their cotton all about Alaska and causing my brain to explode.

Bear is at day camp all week, a friend will pick him up, Yukon has been duly instructed in the mechanics of lunch-making, clothes-changing, bed-time-enforcing, so hopefully things will slide by fairly smoothly around here.

Haven't heard from Wolf since he hung up the phone on me last week, so our meeting will undoubtedly be interesting. I'm ready, though, to make some decisions as to what we will be doing and when and where. The Asperger's is talking, and it's up to me to find Wolf in there someplace.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wolf and Me and the Bears

We are home tonight after a wonderful four days of much-needed relaxation and celebration in Homer. Relaxation after and before a busy summer (with weeks of travel ahead of us and weeks behind us), celebration of Yukon's conquering the 50th birthday. I can say, howeve, we were not counting on Wolf to spring into the middle of all this in the way he has...

I stated in my last post that I was about to hop aboard a plane and fly over to see some bears. I did that, but I also addressed two fears. I hate small planes and, up until last Thursday, hated bears (I say that with all due respect to their existence, just not my existence among them). Convincing me to board a teeny-tiny little airplane and fly across the Gulf of Alaska to Katmai National Park and Hallo Bay Bear Camp to see bears close-up, on purpose, filled me with fear (thus the other reason I was up all night Wednesday; there, it's out).

Flew on the small plane with four other souls and the pilot. Landed on a remote, sandy beach pockmarked with bear and wolf tracks. Hiked through a peaty bog to a lush, green, beautiful meadow where I saw Mother Nature's bear-children engaging in their own version of family dynamics. Complicated, painful, and utterly epic in their scope and importance.

My jaw dropped. My brain whirled. My hatred cleared.

I saw animals just trying to survive. I saw females fighting for their rights. I saw neediness and joy and jealousy, and anger.

Then my own kid's struggles came into perspective.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Much Needed Respite

I've been awake since 5 a.m., partly due to the eagle out on the beach chattering away at some early morning find, and partly from a chronically overactive mind.

We're down in Homer, a favorite spot to annually recharge the family batteries. A group of family and friends have gathered at the Homer Seaside Cottages to continue celebrating Yukon's 50th birthday.

Arriving from Anchorage yesterday, we were happy to see the sun as we drove south along the Sterling Highway, and, this morning, it looks about as perfect as Alaska can get for mid-June. The photos above are from our late-night stroll along the beach at around 9:15, and you can see Bear is sufficiently enjoying himself.

It's been a crazy week in the AK Hacienda; Wolf continues to backslide and as a result I've had to cancel some presentations and projects and schedule an impromptu visit to Salt Lake. Since we arrive home on Sunday and leave again July 14 for our mega-ferry trip around southeast Alaska, I'm understandably a little frazzled to add one more trip to the agenda.

But more on that later.

For now, I'm drinking coffee and taking this moment for what it is; simple, quiet, and utterly refreshing for mind and soul. I'll deal with the other crap later.


Monday, June 20, 2011

From the Wolf Den: Oh *&%#%

My favorite aspect of Wolf's return to the Original Unit at CHYC has been Unit Director B. A charming lady who understands a) me and b) my son, B has been my biggest ally and most prominent figure in the never-ending quest to save Wolf from himself.

However, we have not yet had the chance to talk in person since Wolf's return to the Unit. Well, until this afternoon, that is. And it was not a good chat. Wolf is continuing to exhibit impulsive behavior that ended him up with a fat lip because somebody else ticked him off. Sigh. Such a tangled web of misunderstanding is Asperger Syndrome.

The kicker came when B and I were discussing Wolf's impending discharge in August. B wanted to make sure the group home in Fairbanks would still take him given his last few weeks of not-so-nice behavior. I had assumed people would be talking amongst themselves (lesson learned, they don't always do that. Gah.).

What do I know as of this afternoon? We don't know if Wolf will go to this group home. We don't know if he'll go to a group home in Alaska at all. We need a Plan B. I need a valium.

Regrouping. Reassessing. Yet eternally grateful for Unit Director B and her pragmatic, no-nonsense approach to this. Solve the problem. Make something happen.

And Wolf? Hopefully having to nurse a fat lip will cause some deep pondering about the meaning of his life. But I can say that, I'm not the one with poor impulse control.

Friday, June 17, 2011

From the Wolf Den: A Loss of Words

It's been a tough week for Wolf. One of the more difficult aspects of life at CHYC is that each kid shares a room with another resident, in part for logistical purposes, but more to increase social skills and the all-important concept of getting along with anybody.

Wolf has been sharing a room with one, two, and occasionally three other guys for the majority of his time at CHYC, and when he was transferred back to his original unit, we all hoped for a more harmonious situation.

Starting off well, Wolf's first roommate subsequently graduated and left the community, and, seeing glimmers of leadership beginning to emerge from our son, staff crossed their fingers and placed a new boy as Wolf's room partner.

Thursday morning Wolf called for the Hour of Power with an angry, resentful, and frustrated tone to his voice. It seems that Roommate New Guy got angry when Wolf and some other guys wouldn't let him play Dungeons and Dragons (don't get me started on that game with Asperger boys, but I'll save it for another post someday), and flew into a rage, stomping into the shared room and wreaking havoc upon Wolf's stuff.

Wolf was willing to let go the bedding flung around the room, the Pokemon cards hitting the ceiling and such. What really hurt was the books. His favorite titles (and some of mine) ripped in half, torn with a retaliatory fury. As an avid reader and the mother of one, the idea of someone sacrificing books in the name of his own personal insecurity gave me great pain, and I could empathize with Wolf in a way we have not, to this point, been able to connect. I got it. I get it. I am angry too.

The other boy has been dealt with, for sure. But that's not entirely the point. Yukon, Therapist B. and I have all been working really, really hard to help Wolf understand that stuff like this (figuratively or literally) happens all the time in life. And sometimes we (figuratively or literally) are at a loss for/of words. And wow, does that hurt. But not fighting back and carrying on is so hard to explain to a child who thinks in the now and not the later except from a revenge sort of mantra.

But then, my words are sort of lost right now, too.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yukon's 50th in the 49th

Yukon turns 50 today, and we're celebrating.

Celebrating that he is here to have a 50th birthday, for one; celebrating our life together, for another.

We've been through a lot, Yukon and I, and he's been the rock solid reason for having a best friend with whom I can share my world.

I'm a lucky lady.

Friday, June 10, 2011

From the Wolf Den: What Can I Say?

The reality of Wolf's contact (or lack of) with his natural father is slowly beginning to resonate, and I am now faced with the delicate dance of saying enough but not too much.

Information that would have been discussed and processed much earlier than at 17 1/2, had Wolf been a typical teenager. Information that might be too much for him to process and decipher in a healthy fashion. I can't tell Wolf some things. I can tell him others. It is difficult.

What he really wants, I think, is to be loved by his father in the way most kids are; because no matter how much or how often Yukon says and demonstrates his love in a thousand and one ways to Wolf, Wolf still clings to a distant memory of a dad who took him motorcycle riding, to McDonald's, and to the movies. Oh, and sent him photos of his tour in Afghanistan holding an assault rifle. Lovely.

Like so many impulsive teens with Asperger Syndrome, Wolf sees something he deems as cool and grabs hold with a grip of iron. He lives, eats, and breathes this "coolness" and forgets about the potential risks. The image of his dad is cool right now. And he wants it. He does not feel it.

It is difficult to help Wolf separate the reality of his father from the idea of his father. During the Hour of Power yesterday Wolf asked me at least five times to call his dad and ask why he hadn't contacted him. I told him to write a letter. Therapist B. backed me up.

We are looking forward even more to Wolf's return to Alaska, where he will be busy and working hard, and won't have time to dwell on what makes him despondent. And he will see his family often. I need to remind myself that Wolf has been gone a long time, and he is aching to see familiar faces as much as we are aching to see him.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

600 Posts Later....and Mommy and Bear Do Alaska

How the heck did I get to 600 blog posts about our family's life in Alaska? That's a lot of emotion and information. You can read our very first post on November 17, 2007 right HERE. Dang, I just killed 30 minutes reading all these old musings.


Yukon is faring relatively well down in Oregon, missing his "guys" as he terms it, but learning a lot and even participating in physical therapy so as not to miss even a single day of recovery. What a guy.

Bear and I took a time-out together down in Seward the other day, embarking upon a lovely day cruise with Kenai Fjords and staying overnight at their Seward Windsong Lodge. He was a trooper, since I had to do my usual work/play combination and asked a lot of questions, took a lot of photos, and talked to way too many grownups for his taste. But Bear is nothing if not personable, and he managed to woo his way across Resurrection Bay with a minimum of fuss.

I'm catching up on things before a bunch of friends and family arrive from the Lower 48 for Yukon's 50th birthday. That's another story in itself....

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yukon Goes and I Stay

This is the first night I've spent alone in my bed not lying huddled under the covers crying and praying and bargaining with God to please, please, save my husband. Nor will I wake up every five minutes thinking I heard the landline ring or my cell phone vibrate.

Yukon is gone, and I'm here. I didn't even get to take him to the airport where he left for a week in Medford, Oregon for a business trip. Strange, but at the same time wonderful. How crazy is that?

Granted, our lives are different, now. While Yukon's elbow has healed well it is still locked in a funky position that makes carrying things like luggage a bit difficult. This is the first solo trip since the bicycle crash that sent Yukon and our family careening into a month of hospitals, therapy appointments, and discoveries of faith and loss. But he, and we, survived, and I suppose this day had to arrive at some point.

This is the part of caregiving many people forget about; the letting go. Letting go the pain of illness. Relinquishing my almost-constant supervision over Yukon's broken body and allowing him to make decisions concerning therapy and treatment and asking before jumping in myself. Releasing my patient and reconnecting with my husband.

This will be a good week for both of us. Yukon can power ahead with some important work and visit his parents, who are most anxious to lay eyes upon their youngest son. Bear will be able to see with his own eyes Dad is able to get through the airport, onto a plane, and to his grandparents house all by himself (this has worried him).

And I?

I'm going to finally switch back to my side of the bed.

Where I belong.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

From the Wolf Den: Listen To Me

I like to think I listen to my children, but in reality I probably don't as much as I should. In 17 + years of parenting there is a lot of listening; to joys, fears, irrational explanations, complaints.

We have a lot on our minds, we moms and dads, and sometimes we're way ahead of our kids when they rush through the door at the end of the day, thinking already about what to thaw out for dinner or how the heck we'll manage to drive to running club while juggling a teleconference.

Kid says to us "Guess what happened today?" and before he even has time to throw his backpack on the floor we're already interrupting to say "Put your backpack in the proper place and take off your shoes and don't forget to start your homework!" Kid goes to do all these things, and we both forget what happened today.


It's even more complicated with Wolf. With so much of our communication over the phone and so many limitations currently placed upon his worldly experiences, it's hard sometimes to listen. Add in an endless explanation about the current Obsession of the Week and sometimes 15 minutes feels like 50. This weekend was one of those conversations. Memorial Day crowd over at the house, a beautiful day, and Wolf wanted to talk about the Enterprise.


But we try, and to be fair, Wolf does, too. Knowing that sometimes he falls back into a comfortable form of communication when stressed or tired or upset means Yukon and I must be the ones to ask the questions and do the engaging. Active listening at its best.

Bear calls me on it all the time. "Mommy, you're not listening to me!" And perhaps I'm not. Perhaps this child is the one to be my reminder when Wolf comes home and requires more listening than other kids.

Listen to me.

Listen. To. Me.