Saturday, May 9, 2009

Longing to hear your sweet voice, Ava...

Thank you to everyone who was at the rally last night, in person or in spirit. It was such a great event. Jennifer, Jennifer, Kerri, Marty and others… we are all very appreciative of your efforts. It was a great thing for Traci. It was a great thing for the Lopez family. It was great for all of us. Please remember to put pressure on your local politicians regarding this case. If by our efforts only one life is changed, then it is worth it.

Housekeeping: This Sunday is mother’s day. The Lopez’s would like for you to focus on your families this day and not concern yourselves with them. They are going to take the day for themselves as well. Code break: Let’s give them a day without phone calls or visitors. Don’t worry… food arrangements been taken care of by a neighbor of theirs. You can restart supportive efforts anew on Monday morning, because they are still needed. Great job everybody!!!

I am sure that many of you have heard in the news that it has been one year since the devastating earthquakes in China’s Sichuan province, where many thousands of people were killed and a region devastated. I was listening to a piece on NPR this evening on my way from my work hospital to Ava’s hospital. It was a radio segment of an artist who was recording the sounds of the rebuilding and putting it to music by incorporating the voices of some of the displaced children.

I am sure that many of you are now thinking… “where is he going with this, and what does it have to do with Ava or the rest of the Lopez’s?”

Well many, many children have been displaced from their homes (and from their parents) to be placed in “relocation schools.” Many of these children come from rural areas of the country and do not have ready access to regular communication with their parents. The recording artists came across a boy who sang to them a Chinese sonnet a cappella. The story of the sonnet is that of a child who is displaced from his mother, and he is unable to speak to her. So he sings to the moon and asks the moon (because he knows that his mother can also see the moon) to tell his mother that he loves her, because he is unable to do it himself. The artists took the recording and found his mother and played it for her. She broke down in tears at hearing it and replied, “I will always support you.”

I am sure that she cried for many reasons. She cried for the longing to see her son again. She cried knowing that he was alive and well. Previously, her pain was likely held back by the emotional restraint that we all exhibit much of the time. Hearing her son’s voice caused her emotions to flood (joy, sadness, desire, hope) and the tears became a sort of emotional spillway for her.

It struck me (listening to this piece) how similar Ava and Traci’s story is to this (and Manny, too). Here is this boy, who loves his mother dearly but is unable to communicate it to her and asks a medium (the moon) to convey his love because he is unable. He knows that they still share the moon, despite the distance that separates them. And then there is the tearful (for many reasons) mother who says, “I will always support you.” This statement implies so much… coming from a parent. It says, “I will freely, and without hesitation, give whatever I have, for you.”

Here is Ava, lying in a hospital bed, physically two feet from her mother and yet at the same time she is a thousand miles away and unable to give even the slightest gesture indicating that she is aware that Traci is with her. But Ava is there… and we all know it. And she is asking the moon, “please tell my mommy that I love her, because right now I am not able.” And there is Traci saying, “I will always support you.”

Arriving in Ava’s hospital room this evening was such a great way to end the week. She was wide awake and appeared to be just looking around the room. She still does not track objects, but her eyes are aligned. What does this mean? It is unclear what Ava is registering from her environment. She does not respond to visual stimuli. If you were lying still with your eyes open and something came into our field of view then your eyes would turn in its direction to focus on it and see what it is. Ava does not do that… yet, and consequently I am not sure what she registers or if she can even see. But there is the alignment. You know how when you are talking to someone and they totally glaze over (or maybe that is just when they are listening to me when I get a case of verbal diarrhea) you can see it in their eyes. They get kind of a “thousand yard stare,” like their two eyes are not even focusing on the same thing. People who are blind will often appear to be looking in opposite directions completely. They lose the visual cues that allow them to align their eyes so that they don’t have double vision. Prior to tonight, this is how Ava appeared to me… but tonight, her eyes were aligned. She looked like she was looking around the room. She still did not track on objects that were put in her line of sight, but this was better than two days ago, when I saw her last. And two days from now she will look even better… and two days more… and two days more… until, “do you remember when Ava was in the hospital and we were praying for her recovery? Wow, look at her now!”

Tonight I felt, “she is going to make a full recovery… 100%” And inside I smiled… and outside, too.

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