One year ago today, I made my final, official move into Pittsburgh. The Wife and the boys had moved in three weeks prior; during that time, I went back to finish my school's winter concert, catch the flu, repaint and repair the house, and put our affairs into order. We also discovered the "spots" on The Boy's kidneys and lungs which turned out to be scar tissue later on, thank G-d. I did all of that, more or less successfully. Tuesday morning, December 15, I packed the rest of our life into a van, attached our car to the back of the van (thanks, Musical Grandpa and Cousin P!), and drove to Pittsburgh. I arrived late at night, retrieved The Boy from his Grandma (where he had taken to sleeping because of his issues), and went to bed.
Two days later, we made a trip to the emergency room which resulted in an intensive care stay for The Boy and the rest of the family. This started a horrendous, horrendous time period, which had, at one point, me in the hospital for 20 days and home for 16.
At the time, I was a beaten, destroyed man. I had nothing. I lost my job; my church job and life; my chorus (and my dad's chorus); my house; my friends; and everything else that I knew. "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" didn't even begin to cover it. I'm fairly sure that I had entirely lost my ability to interact normally with people, responding much like a whipped dog responds: tail between the legs alternating with vicious, unpredictable biting and growling.
Pittsburgh has been a miracle for us. Children's Hospital was a revelation, and they were actually prepared to meet the challenges of my family and my son' illness, unlike St. Barnabas and the Valerie Fund, who had neither the competence nor the desire nor the work ethic to meet our needs. Four months later, The Boy was out of treatment; he went from five prescription medicine in constantly juggling dosages to one medication with one dosage, among other things.
I've been slowly and surely healing throughout this time. I believe that I'm a different person than I was on that dark, dark day, 365 days ago, that I fled New Jersey. My relationship with my wife is stronger than it ever has been, and she truly has been the rock upon which I've leaned. My relationship with my sons has grown and blossomed through this time. Professionally, I'm still lagging far behind; it really wasn't until April or May that we were in any condition to do anything about hunting for a job, and I'm positive that I wouldn't have hired us through the summer months.
I've had a lot of hard growing up to do. I'm a lot more sensitive and more responsive to my family's needs and the needs of the people around me. I'm a lot more capable of dealing with work stress than ever before - how bad can it possibly get at any job, considering the hellish, unprofessional, vindictive behavior of the people in Westfield? I'm more capable of putting my family's needs ahead of my own, truly, than ever before. Lots of people pay lip service to that; but, I think being able to drop everything and move 400 miles away for better medical care kind of proves it.
It's been a very difficult, very trying, very challenging year, filled with highs and lows that were steeper than others. But, we're through one year, with many more to go. We have some interesting things happening in the next couple of weeks that I can't wait to share with you: a trip to New Jersey for the holidays, seeing lots of friends, some surprise visits to places, that sort of thing.
And, it's 10:26PM, and The Boy is still awake. Sigh.