Hands cradled the golden fairy hummingbird wings, Iris positioned the Christmas tree decoration to face her and smiled at the fir needles with atoms of rainbows. I feel a lightness of being present in the moment, in the bird I can see resilience and independence. They are a sign of love in Central America with wing beat patterns symbolising infinity. In other cultures they are healers and where ever they are seen they bring joy. Our Christmas has been filled with so much joy this year, many firsts, the first time Iris has been an Elf helping Father Christmas at the Club, the first time Iris had enjoyed opening her presents with everyone, the first time she had chosen to sit at the table with chatter around her.
Then fear cut through, breaking the celebrations in my heart when I couldn’t hear her hum, the music dulled my senses and the distractions of being social meant that I missed her leave. The backdoor left wide open, tiptoes and bare feet silently made their way out into the cold. Moments of magical time turned into a ticking clock, sand slipping through fingers as I check each room and grabbed a pair of boots to take with me on my search. Iris’s mind thinks in patterns, so must mine. Last time she went missing it was the Swedish midsummer celebrations and she was next door checking out their kitchen cupboards. My mind was made up that’s where I would go and as soon as I was out of the door I see the neighbour and she points to her house. Iris is there, safe. I walked her back to her grandparents in her grandmother’s wellington boots, she hums with her arm linked in mine. My hummingbird is with me.
I think a lot about how I can keep her within the boundaries, installed coded gates at home and taught her she must only leave home with me, taught her emergency details, printouts of our telephone number, address and her name are taped to her wardrobe and we practice saying them. Could a tiny GPS gadget be the answer alerting my phone? But the ancient farmhouse walls blocking the technological world and signals in my parent’s house would laugh at such a suggestion.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, by her age I was adventuring on my bike or pony, a traveller’s spirit within me always wanting to see what’s around the next corner. I know I can’t keep her winglet in my arm forever but I feel behind, left behind with so much that I need to teach her to keep her safe. As time goes on life has got easier, communication improved, social skills…but in those night time hours, my mind fills with worry, wandering thoughts about a wandering Iris. I know I am not alone, it’s an ingrained fear in most special needs parent’s minds. My way of overcoming this fear is empowering Iris with more skills, more knowledge and abilities to try to minimize the danger. She can not live in a fortress or a cage. The hummingbird reminds me although we can fly backward and learn from past events we must move forward too, lifting negativity and flipping it into a positive. So as we leave 2019 behind I would like to take with me the knowledge that Iris is not afraid to leave what she knows, she is happier in social situations, she is seeking, she is talking to me through her actions and this will guide us forwards for more adventures in 2020.