I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but last year, very shortly after I lost my hearing, I also got very sick and was struggling to stay awake. I guess you could say I had “checked out”. In addition to falling asleep all the time, I couldn’t answer simple questions, and I was losing touch with everyone and everything. It was very scary. One thing that grieved me the most at the time was the way my children were affected. In particular, my daughter. She was 3 years old then, and had no idea how to communicate with me. She was lost, seeing me lost, and she just sort of gave up on me. Once I got better and regained my cognition, it broke my heart to discover the major disconnect between us.
My mom had flown in to stay with me as I recovered, and it took her two seconds to see what had happened with Natalie. She didn’t waste any time teaching Natalie how to communicate with me, telling her to make sure she looks at me when she speaks, and to speak slowly, and use hand gestures and simple ASL. Natalie soaked it up like a sponge. As she saw me respond to her, she opened right back up. What my mom did was such a gift. When I thought I had lost my daughter, she found a way to give her back to me.
And now? Now, as I’m learning to hear again with this cochlear implant, I am having to teach my kids all over again how to *talk* to me. Audibly! As it turns out, my daughter had a habit of mouthing her words to me, with no sound, so I’m having to continually remind her to use sound. And as I remind her throughout the day, she gets better and better. Just in the past couple of days she is really picking up on the “normal talking to Momma” thing, and I am loving hearing what she has to say. She has a fabulous, sweet, funny personality. And I sat her down after her bath tonight and told her so. I told her that I had really missed talking with her, and I am so thankful for my “new ear” so that I can hear what she has to say, and I can hear her giggle when she makes a joke, and of course I started to cry as I was telling her this. But this girl, she understands “happy cries”, and she was not shaken or scared. In fact, she threw off her bath towel and stretched her arms out to give me the best hug ever. And we held each other while I silently sobbed on her shoulder.
I’ve had these sorts of moments with Luke as well, but I have a different sort of connection with him. Luke and Natalie are so unique, yet both possess the same kindness and understanding. Luke has done very well with the changes my implant has brought. He still likes to use ASL to ask to play video games, but I don’t correct him. I think he does it both out of habit and for fun. When he makes a loud noise or laughs, he knows I can hear him so he looks over at me and smiles his big (toothless) grin, seeing that I’ve heard, and we just stare at each other with sparkles in our eyes and joy in our hearts.
I am starting to really experience what one of my new cochlear implanted friends always signs her messages with… with CI joy,