Sam's been kind of quiet lately. Only speaking when he really needs to. When he goes through stages like this, I am intrigued by his face and the way it can speak with expression. He will look at things with great thought, as if seeking clarification from whatever he is looking at. I particularly enjoy the way he interacts with his environment during his "silent times". He appears to examine objects more. He will feel them, smell them, and of course lick them sometimes, but I love when he lays down to get eye level with whatever he is looking at. He will take his hands and raise them to the height of the object. He will lift it, hold it, caress it at times. Sometimes it is like he is dancing.
When Sam got home from school today, I am sure he was ready for his usual routine. In door, shoes off, coat off, book bag down, run up steps, eat. I was not ready for that today. Today I needed to enjoy him in the now. I needed time with him away from our current surroundings. A place where there was not his familiar comfy's to distract him, but a place where we would be distracted by comfort. That place today was Medicine Lake. I wanted a place we could relax by the water or play in the sand, or crunch the beautiful fall leaves. It was a perfect fall day.
I love Medicine Lake. It is a bit of a drive from our home (10 minutes, but we live in Minnesota, so that is far considering there are over 10,000 lakes and we even live across the street from one). This particular lake has every element I love. It has parks, homes, wetlands, nature, Minneapolis skyline, biking, beaches, and lots of nature. This lake became my friend when we first moved to Minneapolis 6 years ago. I drove by it everyday to my teaching job. Some days I would drive by missing our first home in Des Moines, but somehow this lake would bring me peace. When my sister died 3 years ago, I used to go there to walk and reflect. It just always brings me peace. I needed peace and quiet with Sam today. I knew the lake bike trails and parks would not be busy, as it was a school and work day, and at the time we were there, 60,000 Twins fans were at the Metrodome watching them lose in the 2nd playoff game or were at local establishments watching the game. Few would be walking around the lake. It was a peaceful, beautiful day to be at Medicine Lake.
Before we left for the lake, I had to make sure it would be a smooth "out of routine" transition. I knew that I only had to tell Sam that we were going to "his" lake to watch the ducks and eat a picinic, and he would be excited. Sam also loves this lake. Whenever we drive by this same spot, Sam always says "tretty mom, tretty" (pretty mom, pretty). He knows exactly the spot, exactly the bench that he likes. We get to know this lake whenever we are doing his "Listening Program", as we do it while going for rides in the van in the evening.
I looked at him and simply said, "Lunch at your lake?"
He screamed, flapped his hands and started spinning with joy. He was putty in my hands. While I told him to go potty so we could go, I quickly checked his bag to see his note from his teacher today. She wrote that Sam was very quiet, seemed lost, and needed lots of directions and reminders of what to do today. This was no surprise. He has been needing reminders about who people and family members were lately, and how to do everyday things he has mastered before. He has been forgetting who people are, what their names are, and has been talking through us to them. He is particularly close to our pastor, but has been telling me what to say to her and has forgotten that he ALWAYS calls her "pattor eelynn" (Pastor EvaLyn). This past weekend he couldn't remember the names of his little cousins who are a couple years younger than him, so he called them "ditto ones" (little ones) all weekend.
He returned up the steps ready to go on our drive to the lake. He was still flapping his hands, flying around and around. It was almost like he was dancing.
Into the van. Quiet ride. I kept watching him in the mirror. A soft expression was on his face. He too was beginning to feel the peace the closer we got. I could tell.
When we got to the park on the east side, we found a spot near a playground to eat our lunch. We ate quietly. I would try to talk about school, but every time I would ask him who he played with, what he did, etc...he replied each time with "not tell today". When he says this, he really means it. I have tried to push in the past, but it can easily escalate to screaming. But....of course I had to try one more time. No screaming in response, but this time a combination of sentences...."I fordot, not tell today". He was calm and peaceful when he said it, but clearly expressed with his face to me, that he wanted to sit and watch the water, eat his lunch, and for there to be silence.
Silence it was. But it was an incredibly peaceful silence. A couple times I would try to talk...do some "WH questions" (which always gets him talking)...but to no avail, would anything work today. Silence. I believe God wanted me to shut up and enjoy the silence with Sam today. Why can't I ever listen?
The rest of our time at the lake was in quiet. Sam would get up to go explore the beach area. I followed. He watched me out of the corner of his eye. Occassionally testing how far away he could get from me and how close to the water he could go. I just followed along, walking like him sometimes, walking with sometimes. Sometimes...it was like a dance.
One of us would move towards the bike trails along the lake, the other would follow. Sometimes we would stop to pick up a feather, a leaf, a rock. Still no words. Sometimes we would stop and just stare at the water. Just stare at the geese, ducks, and birds. We both knew when to move on, when to stop, and when to honor our silence.
This was a beautiful day. A day of silence. A day of peace. It wasn't like a dance....we were dancing. We didn't touch, we weren't holding each other, we weren't stepping on each others toes, but we were dancing. Dancing all through the lunch hour into the afternoon. I can't wait to dance again with My Sam I Am.