Missing Martin, Distressing Martin (?)

Adrian and I are ringing in the New Year in Jerusalem. It should be a great time, and it is a great time. Right now it’s also difficult, because of messages from home. Samara, who has been helping my mother with Martin while we’re away, sent this to my phone (portions translated):

Hi. How are you guys? Everything is fine at the house, but Martin misses you so much. Sometimes when he’s saying, “Mommy is coming back another day,” that’s when a tantrum starts.

Today he cried over a saxophone. He was playing with some stickers his grandma gave him as a present. There were pictures of instruments, and one of them was a saxophone. So he remembered that he has [a saxophone] and started to look for it in his toy chest and took all his toys out of the toy chest. I told him that [the saxophone] isn’t there anymore because it broke, and he started saying, “It’s coming later,” and so mistakenly I said that the saxophone is not coming later, that we need to get a new one at the store because yours is broken. He quickly responded that we should go to the store to buy a saxophone, “Vamos a la tienda a comprar un saxofón.”

I thought that was a very clever sentence. But he was really serious about it. Then he remembered that you aren’t here, either, and he related you to the saxophone and things got worse. He started to cry even more. So I took him to the toy store to look for something similar to the saxophone. Well, he saw a trumpet and got that into his head and didn’t want to think about anything else. I was going to buy it right at that moment, when I realized that I didn’t have my wallet in the backpack and—oh boy! He cried so much. He couldn’t understand that we were coming right back to pay for the trumpet. He cried all the way back to the house and until he saw my wallet, when he finally understood that I was not kidding.

Later he was the happiest boy with his trumpet, and then he got another present from your mother and he was more happy still.

Ugh. Martin has not obsessed about a musical instrument (he used to carry one everywhere) in months. Is emotional distress causing bygone habits to reemerge? Emotional distress because I am not there?

So there was that crap situation, which happened yesterday. Then this morning my mother texted: “Martin has started, ‘Mommy and Daddy always come back.’ [Your brother] leaving will be tough on Martin today.”

I’m craving my little man, craving his presence.

Me siento mal.

Without Martin

Readers, it’s been a week. For the first time since I started this blog, I let more than three days pass without a post.

I apologize.

I blame Christmas preparations—I didn’t accomplish even half a standard Christmas, but that’s a subject for a later post—, forging through dense briefing schedules in two separate litigations, sitting up at night as Martin’s had trouble sleeping, and preparing for the trip.

Yes! The trip! This is the big one, Adrian’s sixth-anniversary gift to me, and eight days without my Martin. My mother is staying in our apartment with Martin. We’ve gone backwards and forwards over his daily supplementation schedule, dietary restrictions, wants, and needs. I’ve filled the freezer with pre-prepared meals and organic meats. With the approval of Martin’s HANDLE therapist, he gets these eight days off from HANDLE exercises. And all week Samara’s been helping Martin learn this mantra: “Mommy and Daddy are coming back. Mommy and Daddy always come back.” As a result, he was okay when we left this afternoon. I said, “Daddy and I are going on an airplane and will come back next week. You’re staying with Grandma.” Martin replied, “Mommy is coming back another day. Mommy always comes back.”

I’m worried, of course. Not that my mother won’t accomplish Martin’s diet and supplements to the T. Not that my mother and Samara and even my visiting brother won’t be doting on him. I’m worried that he will be distressed without us, and more especially, that we could lose recovery momentum. These past few weeks have brought so much progress. I’ll have a hard time forgiving myself if our absence interrupts that, or prompts a set-back.

(“I’m not worried about permanent damage,” Adrian assured me yesterday. “I’m really not.”)

It didn’t help that, just before Adrian and I headed out, Martin seemed, as my mother put it, “a little spacey today.”

Nevertheless, I made it out the door, teary-eyed. I’m typing this on the airplane. We’re bound for Israel, landing in Tel Aviv and continuing by car to Eilat, then to Jerusalem, sandwiching a day trip to Petra in Jordan. This was all supposed to be a surprise, but some weeks ago I forced Adrian to reveal the itinerary. Not knowing our destination was just shoveling anxiety onto my already gigantic pile of hesitation about leaving Martin. It’s only the second time, since we radicalized his treatment, that I’ve been away more than a night. The first was a four-day trip to Germany for a family emergency, during which Samara moved into the apartment and helped Adrian manage the routine.

So there you have it. This blogger is on her way to the Holy Land and will have a week to contemplate the course we’re on with Martin. I’m determined to post daily, both to take advantage of the time away and to make amends for the recent posting dearth.

An eight-day travel journey, meant as a break from a years-long recovery journey.

Here we go.