We joke a lot about Kiera's future. Girl can talk a stranger out of their savings without their noticing AND she works a pole like I have only seen in the movies. It's not hard to joke about the myriad of professions my strong willed (and legged) little blondie might get herself into. She'll be OK, with some (OK a ton) of guidance, she'll be OK. I was OK. A different kind of OK then I was after I met Dave, but still OK.
You see, Dave had his shit together when he met me. I didn't even know what that meant. I had gone to college with a good GPA and scholarships but the discovery of a seizure disorder and my dads ALS blew that all to hell so I failed (or tried) myself out and came home. Got a job I loved that didn't pay for shit, and did my best to keep my head above water while I literally got my affairs in order. The benefit of having friends who had suffered tragically similar loss is that they tell you how to do it as well as you can, so that is what I did. I adjusted to new meds, learned how to pay my own bills, and watched my dad die. I can say looking back that I think I did it right, I said everything I needed to say and did the best I could for him, so who cares if I never learned how to return a movie on time. The point is, the important stuff, the stuff that really mattered, got done. I was OK. Broke, a bit reckless, but OK. Kiera will be OK. She is a little version of me with hopefully enough of Dave mixed in that she wont trash her credit rating by the time she is 19.
We don't joke about Ben's future. It is no joke. We don't even talk about it too much. Those are serious conversations, set aside for serious times. Where is the money going, who will have responsibility, who can best manage if we are unable. Like I said, serious conversations. Part of the reason is that we simply don't know what we are dealing with. We have no idea where his life will lead him and we never have. How do you plan ahead for a child when the doctors say he will never hold his head up, then he does. You plan, but with every plan you make contingency plans. So, he has a college savings account but it is the kind that can be withdrawn and used for things other than college because WHO KNOWS. He has never performed below grade level academically, but he's in third grade.
I have been playing catch up with school for years now because it turns out, when you drop out and go back 17 years later in a totally different field, you pretty much start over. I went in to campus today and watched a kid walk in ahead of me with a gait that looks all too familiar to me because I see it every day, and I started to think about how many times I see this gait around my little community college. Then I saw it again. Walking into a different building, another kid who in 10 years could be my kid. Who knows. By the time I made it to the computer commons I was deep in mind fuck (where I try to steer clear) wondering about these guys I'd just seen. Who are they? What are their issues? Where do they live? When I had a seat next to an older gentleman who, guess what, had something going on. It's like the day in the grocery store when they want you to buy comfort food so they play every sad song, today was the day that I had some thinking to do I guess. This fellow held one arm at a distinctive angle, had the hand of that arm folded in a familiar way, had a thinner leg, had one ankle bent in Ben fashion, but corrected all of these positioning issues to make use of the computer and pull around his used physics book. I did my work and busted ass to my car where I burst into tears. Not because there a damn thing wrong with the man sitting next to me, but because I just didn't know if that man had anyone who loved him. I cried the whole way home wondering if he was happy. If he was OK. He looked to be in his 60's but was he, or is that how life had treated him? Is he OK? Will Ben be OK? I believe with every bit of me that we can move forward in a direction where he will be OK, just like Kiera will be OK. But it is the variables, the player that we can't see on the other side of the chess board that keeps us from joking about his future.
Tears are dry, we are still thinking three moves ahead, we'll be OK.
All of us.