A coworker recently lamented losing her belief in karma, mourning her shattered confidence that if she did the right thing she would be rewarded. It was hard to be sympathetic being that I don’t believe in karma, I don’t believe that being a good person will allow good things to happen to you, I don’t believe in god, and I sure as hell don’t believe that life is fair. But that, to you readers, is old news.
I mean if karma were to exist wouldn’t we have found some nice new house to move to that had great schools, great disability services, a short commute, plenty of room, and a park or two nearby? Instead we’ve been denied by more rental houses than I can count, my favorite reason, after calling within one hour of the house being listed and being detained by the owner for over an hour not once but twice to listen to him pontificate on his hideous art was: “I have just committed the rental of the house to someone with whom I have mutual friends. I felt it was a more compatible choice”. Or, close tie, the house that we viewed and submitted a completed application for only to be told 2 weeks later (after repeated phone calls asking for updates) that the house isn’t actually for rent just for sale. The house mysteriously remains listed for rent.
Okay, enough self-pity already. For now we just try to be chipper around the kids and keep packing boxes with no idea where we are going. I go to work and try not to laugh at the petty politics passed around the wide conference tables and listen with concern to the needs of my students and my employees and act accordingly in what I hope is everyone’s best interest. Like every aspect of my life since January of 2010 (Greta’s diagnosis) I do the best imitation of myself. Now it’s taken on a new iteration of denial and desperation and the cynic in me is left to wonder what’s next. For being such a skeptic though I must note that I sure do play by the rules even though they don’t play back. I’ve never even thought of doing the “wrong” thing, or making self-serving decisions just to make my life simpler, but I’m past thinking this behavior will reap some type of reward. So perhaps somewhere in me a tiny flicker of hope remains. Battered by threats of homelessness, bureaucratic impotence and visions of Greta’s recent insistence on dangerously rolling her ankle with each step, I may be down but I’m not out.
I am capable of compassion, despite what bitterness may leak from my unprotected cracks at times. Greta’s own physical therapist (PT) makes no attempt to hide she believes Greta’s gait is my fault. She insists that if Greta stretches more, wears the silly plastic braces that cost a fortune and can’t possibly contain the will of an angry two year old, this would not be happening.
I know she is mistaken and suffering under the delusion that many PTs have who deal with kids with CP, she thinks it’s a muscle problem, a tight tendon that can bend to her will, not a neurological impulse as strong as our need to blink when our eyes become dry. Try as I might I can’t convince her that Greta’s brain will insist on tightening that muscle no matter what you do short of putting her into an painful immovable cast or slicing the offending tendon nearly in two, which likely will happen in her immediate future. But she diligently shames our parenting week after week, and honestly I don’t have the energy to even argue with her anymore.
I pack up the countless articles gleaned from medical publications on the uselessness of these tactics and let Jack color large prehistoric landscapes over the words “chronic periventricular hemorrhage and imperceptible therapeutic response”. I watch her ministrations over Greta’s tiny curled foot as she rubs and stretches and massages and I look on with what could only be described as concern when we all watch Greta rise and skip around in the exact same way she did before the incessant stretching and hear her PT congratulate herself on how much better she looks. It is a special brand of delusion this woman has but as a comrade in delusional thinking I let her have it. I do wish her narrative didn’t cast me as the villain, but I’ve got villains bigger than anything she’s ever seen so how can I begrudge her a little black and white relief? I visualize her proclamations about our lack of intervention and Greta’s potential as if tamping a lid onto a particularly warped Tupperware container. It is with certainty she discusses Greta’s potential, who am I to shatter her illusions?
I am tired of potential, from therapists to doctors to family it is always about Greta’s potential. Potential to be “normal” to be “better” to “be more empathetic to others” to “be a better person”. I am mischievous; I wonder whether Greta’s symptoms will be worse than they imagine, that she will be bitter, cruel even in the face of what seems to be such a concrete example of the unfairness of this universe. Potential for what I always ask. It makes people uncomfortable so I’ve stopped. But nightly I wonder what it means to have potential and silently I think it has the same weight of having good karma: absolutely worthless.