Our family had a lovely, peaceful Christmas, and I'm thinking about this past year and how much things have changed.
Some of that is small. Today I took out recycling and didn't think twice about leaving Lily in the house without me. Last year she would have wanted to be with me, meaning I'd wait until she had her shoes on before venturing out the door and to the bin. Even now, Lily is upstairs in her room, enjoying privacy, not scared, not yelling at her brother to be quiet (he's talking on-line to his school buddies), not screaming at me to be up there sitting in her room. It's a different life in so many ways.
The fall brought milestones that felt miraculous. Lily attended a dance party, and when I went in to pick her up, she was laughing, dancing, and holding hands with other kids. I can't even begin to express how meaningful that is.
Laughing. Such a small act that says everything about her state of mind. She spent last year either sedated to a stupor, or depressed beyond words. I missed her laughter, the sweet, gentle and silly sound of genuine happiness.
Dancing. To modern music. Uninhibited. Joyful. In a room full of people. Normal - and so very far from the emotions how she expressed last year. My jaw dropped.
Holding hands. The child who wouldn't accept a hug, a light caress, a pat on the arm. I knew she needed to be hugged and held. I've needed to hug and hold her. And this, happily, is becoming more common. Lily wants me to sit close to her, not because she's scared, but because she's willing to allow herself to be loved. That's how it feels. She gets silly and wants to duck walk, or poke me playfully when we're out.
And there's more. She's willing to be silly, look funny, make outrageous sounds together when we're out shopping. She's having fun. And so am I.
Which doesn't preclude conflict or adolescent drama, but gives me some much needed perspective. When Lily is grouchy, it's balanced a bit by good humor at another time.
And she still will have times when she's overstimulated and needs space, or a quiet break. But she's easier to work with when this happens. She calms down faster and is able to move on, and sometimes to rejoin the group.
Socially we're still navigating and exploring how to connect with genuine friends. And how to deal with the disappointments that come with being left out of other friends' get-togethers. Lily doesn't understand why girls will talk about going shopping together and then fail to call her and let her know when and where. She's still learning how to be proactive socially, how to do the inviting and pull something together. It's not so easy for her. She gets her feelings hurt, and she feels it deeply.
But I know for sure, that this is one more hurdle we'll overcome. Lily is incredibly resilient. She has an iron will, and I believe in her. I believe she can be happy. That she has tremendous things to offer the world. That she will ultimately use her experiences towards a good end. And I'll help her all along the way.