It’s been nearly 5 months since COVID-19 stole every routine that my daughter knew. Most days during these last 5 months a rainbow drawn in chalk has been displayed on the sidewalk in front of our house. When school buildings closed and businesses shutdown in March my daughter fell apart. The routines and predictability that she relied on to make it from one day to the next were suddenly without notice gone. In the beginning she was afraid to leave her bedroom. Gradually with the help of her support team at school she was able to come out of her room and eventually step out the front door. To take that first step and venture outside was a huge accomplishment. I was relieved that finally the sun would hit her face and we would be able to stop giving her vitamin D supplements. Out she went with a bucket of chalk. The first thing she drew was a rainbow. Drawing a rainbow out front every afternoon was to become part of her new routine. Let me just say we couldn’t be happier that she was outside every day drawing rainbows but it has left me constantly singing the rainbow song in my head day after day. “Red and orange, yellow, green, blue and shiny purple too…all the colors that we know…live up in the rainbow.
As the days have turned into weeks and the weeks have turned into months my daughter has lost the spark that it took her so long to find. Gone are the days when she would come bursting through the door after school eager to tell me about her day. She was always so full of life talking about what her teachers and classmates did. Instead, over the past 5 months, we have heard her say some very disturbing things. “I don’t want to live anymore. I want to die like the old people.” “When I was outside I felt like my whole body was going to jump out of my skin. I forgot what the sound of an airplane was like.” “I’ve been inside so long I forgot who my relatives are.” “I’m afraid I’ll give someone else my germs if I talk to them.” Statements like these became the new norm those first few months. They were difficult to hear. Our journey through COVID-19 has not been an easy one.
As the months have passed by however, it has gotten easier. The comments are less harsh. Days that seem to last forever and are filled with endless free time and iPad time is the new routine. Her obsession with Disney Princesses has kept her going. I never knew there were so many princess event businesses out there. From story times, cooking classes to princess balls they are providing something online every day. Something to look forward to each and every day. As for our two favorite princess places, Sugar Plum Parties and Spark A Dream Parties, the void they are filling is huge. Many things have disappeared to her but she has come to realize that her princesses are still there. We were lucky enough to venture out recently to our first in person princess event. It was going to be held outside and be different than what she was used to but she was excited to go. Gone are the days of much needed princess hugs. Masks and social distancing etiquette are well observed with our princesses. The event helped fill the unbelievable void but that spark that was once there still didn’t come back.
I’ve come to realize that it’s going to take a long time for that spark to be ignited. She aged out in May so she won’t be returning to school in the Fall. I believe even if she did go back we would find her coming home less enthused than before COVID-19. Just as her princess events are different so too would be school. She would look forward to going but come home lacking those much needed and so desperately wanted personal interactions.
She aged out in May, it’s now August and she is still at home waiting to transition into her new adult day programs. Her journey has been long and filled with times of moving full steam ahead to just chugging along. We have faced many roadblocks along the way but nothing has stopped us from moving ahead until now. COVID-19 has left us broken down in the middle of nowhere. The days pass and her destination remains no where in sight. We are waiting patiently for that day she can begin moving forward again. We are waiting patiently for that day when transition will be behind her. We are waiting patiently for that day when she can have a routine filled with things that make her come home with stories to tell us. We are waiting patiently for that spark to be ignited. If it takes us another 100 chalk rainbows out front however, we’ll keep waiting.