Perversely, all this wonderfulness is making me so sad tonight. I'm writing this with tears streaming down my face, so this might be the entry to skip if you're not into self-pity.
This is what I mean by perverse: I feel like Frankie is holding on to her sister so tightly because she doesn't want to lose her. After all, her recent separation wasn't just from her mom and dad, but also her beloved sister.
Or maybe it's that I'm realizing how much it is going to hurt Frankie if we do lose her. Not to mention Jörg and me.
I don't know exactly what I'm thinking. Just that this new relationship that Frankie is developing with Annika is beautiful. And I am dreading what has to be done up in Chicago in a few days or weeks. I want to go back to last month and live the alternate reality where Annika starts her preschool and I grouse about my students and Frankie's vocabulary expands to mispronounce words in a completely R-rated fashion.
I had plans this month to meet a friend of mine that I met in the hospital just after Annika's second transplant. She was the mom of Jayli, and I met them just before she had the rex shunt surgery that is currently being considered to fix Annika's problem. You probably already know the story because I keep coming back to it like a woman haunted...shunt did not work, retransplant, PTLD, Jayli died. I wrote to my friend to let her know why I was going to have to cancel our plans to meet, and I haven't heard back from her. I know that part of my weepiness in this current situation is all caught up in the memory of Jayli and what her family went through in the months after the shunt failed. And I suspect that part of my friend's silence might be pain from her own memories of those hard times.
I'm trying to keep the atmosphere light around the house, but it's not easy. Frankie dissolves into a desperate weeping fit if I'm out of her sight for more than 5 seconds. And she can no longer fall asleep by herself. At night she clings to Annika, and for naptime, it's me. Yesterday it wasn't even enough to fall asleep beside me, she had to lay on top of me in Annika's bed with her cheek resting against mine.
Annika, meanwhile, is struggling with her own unhappiness. The past few days she was having fevers with no other symptoms of illness, which always sets my nerves on edge. In the middle of the night she came to me for water and Tylenol and comfort. Her voice wavered a bit as she asked, "How come I have to be sick again already?"
But then the morning comes and the fever is gone and Annika is ready for a new day. Tomorrow she plans on dressing up like a bear. Don't ask me; that's just what she wants to do. If anyone has any good suggestions for how, exactly, we could accomplish this without having to actually go and buy Bear-like things, please please let me know.
And there have been plenty of moments to make me laugh, appropriately or not. For one thing, Annika has taken to self-diagnosing her state of health. But she doesn't just go around willy-nilly declaring herself "healthy" or "sick" depending on her mood. No, she has a scientific method used for reaching her diagnosis, which she shared with me the other day:
Scene: the bathroom in the hospital lab, where Annika is taking waaaaaay too much time in the one area designated for collecting urine samples.
Annika (peering between her legs into the bowl): "Oh, no! Look at that!"
Me (the panic I now feel every time Annika uses the toilet growing more intense): "What is it? Is everything OK? Is it blood?"
Annika: "No, but it's stinky mud poopy."
Me: "Stinky, mud poopy?" (I look in the bowl and see that she has, indeed, described it pretty well)
Annika: "Yes. I have stinky mud poopy when I'm sick. When I'm healthy, I have stick poopy."
Frankie (excitedly tugging her pants down): "Poopy, too!"
Pretty damn ingenious, if you ask me.
And then there was the incident of the time-out 2 days ago, after she threw a tantrum because Frankie refused to put on the Princess dress that Annika had so carefully chosen for her. Annika cracked open the door just a tiny bit (she's not allowed to open the door during a time-out) and yelled out, "I'm a Princess! Not a Prisoner!" Then closed the door with as little noise as possible.
And in the spirit of comedic naughtiness, one last vignette:
Annika, Frankie, and I were all in the backyard. The girls were playing together while I was storing things for fall in the shed.
Frankie came over to check out what I was doing, and when I looked up, I saw her mouth was ringed in sand.
"Frankie!" I said, scoldingly, "Have you been eating sand? Again?"
Frankie turns her back to me, and I hear the sound of spitting and spy bits of sand falling to the ground. She turns back to face me and says, "Uhhhhhhhh, no!"
OK. I'm feeling much better now. Thank you, keyboard.