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Life is Not All Fun and Starbucks

     It was two o'clock in the morning. My phone—my constant connection with Paul—woke me with its melodic ringing.

    "My neck hurts." Paul told me when I answered his call.

    "Okay, I'll be right there." I slip on my slippers and head down the dark hallway to Paul's room, where I turn on the bedside lamp and ask if he needs to go to the bathroom, his usual reason for a wake-up call in the night.

    "No, I can't sleep. I want to get up."

    I've learned that at these times he wants to be alone with his BearBear and his conversations with God. I help him out of bed and he sits in the comfy blue chair next to it. I get him a Tylenol for his sore neck and ask if he wants his neck brace on.

    He sleeps without it, but usually puts it on when he gets up. Tonight he doesn't want it on. I ask if he there's anything he wants to talk about. No. He's just "thinking about stuff."  I ask if he wants to tell me what's on his mind. He doesn't. "It's between me and God."

    I walk down the hall and get back in bed, knowing I'll be coming back in a couple of hours. Paul usually needs an hour or two to work things out when he has a night like this.

    When I return later that night, he's ready to sleep and he even giggles about pulling the covers over his head, his way of teasing me so I can't connect his C-Pap tubing to his nose-piece until he's ready to pull the covers down. "You don't think that's funny, do you, Mom?" he asks, still giggling in his wickedly funny way.

    As I climb back into bed, I think—mistakenly, it turns out—that the one good thing is he'll be sleeping in late after being up two hours during the night. Wrong. He calls me before seven.

    I go in to find an angry Paul. "It's Dan's fault. He made me bend over and touch my toes and that's what made my neck spasm. That's why I have to wear this thing," he says, pulling at his neck brace. I again—for the hundredth time—start to tell him that Dan, his physical therapist, was just trying to help him walk again, but he's having none of it.

    "Why do you like him so much?" he asks angrily. "He hurt me. Why do you like Dr. Smith so much? He pushed my arm and hurt me."

    Again I try to tell him that Dr. Smith had to do this to see if his strength was returning after the surgery. He's having none of it.

    "You're too controlling. You can't tell me what to eat and where I can go. I like chocolate chip cookies and whipped cream and mocha lattes."

    I've had enough. I tell him I'll come back later, when he's not so angry. Back in my room, I ask God what to do. I know Paul's angry about having cerebral palsy and about not having a girlfriend and no chances of getting married and having a family and about not having control of his life and not being able to get around freely.

    Whoa! Suddenly I get the message. No wonder he's angry. All these years, putting up with his disability and all of its consequences and doing it cheerfully and lovingly most of the time. He needs time now and then to be angry. I should let him be and stop trying to convince him there's a good reason for everything. I leave him alone for an hour.

    Later, when I go back to his room, he smiles at me. "I'm sorry." And I tell him that's okay—because it is.

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