Article courtesy of: Chrissy Kelly, Life with Greyson & Parker
I grew up in Missouri. I went to Catholic school. 96% of everyone I knew were white Catholics. That’s who lived in my neighborhoods and went to my schools all the way up to and including college.
It was good and safe and close. It was a community, and many of those nouns defined me. They still do. St. Louis is not a small town. It’s an amazing place to grow up and a beautiful place to live, but my experience there was not diverse.
And then when I was 25 years old, I moved to Los Angeles. The land of dreams and the city of angels. I felt like I had just discovered space or peanut butter. Everyone melted together in a huge pot of extreme different. It was overwhelming at first, and I felt lost searching for my people. But at the same time, it also felt so incredibly brilliant. I had friends that were every color of the rainbow, comprised of many different religions. I fell in love with people. Meeting people, people watching, figuring out the why of people. All so different and unique, each with their very own storybook story. I discovered we all have so many things to learn from each other; and we all have so much to teach.
My first few jobs were in advertising and marketing- which is where my passion lied. The money and hours sucked, but the work was my heart. One day I sold out for security, money and benefits and started working in pharmaceutical sales- a decision I did not regret. I tried to find my own ways to insert creativity into my work. I sold an antiemetic- a drug to prevent vomiting. I called on Medical offices that specialized in the treatment of Cancer and AIDS.
The training for this job is extremely extensive, hardcore and continuous. Learning about the disease state is as important as learning about the specifics of the drugs you sell. I learned extensively about Cancer and AIDS. Learning about drugs and more importantly – learning about people became part of my DNA.
I learned two truths, no one lives forever- and health is one of those things you take for granted until you don’t have it anymore. HIV is a virus. One of the gold standards in treating HIV positive patients are Protease inhibitors -they helped to stop the virus from replicating. It often caused lipodystrophy- abnormal placement of fat tissue. Once I learned that- I was able to often recognize patients in waiting rooms that were HIV positive. When I first started calling on the HIV physicians, I would hold my breath and antibacterial my hands the second I got into the car. I was afraid of HIV. Afraid I could catch it from the door handle.
I began to recognize people working in the offices that were HIV positive. And as I got to know them- I got to hear some of their stories. My one take away for you and for me- we aren’t that different. Maybe our nouns are different- gay, straight, transgender, sick, Catholic, divorced, healthy, mom, doctor, cancer –but our insides are similar. For the most part, we all want to be happy. We want to make good choices. We want to love and be loved. We want to belong to and believe in something bigger than ourselves. When we break it down into its simplest components- life isn’t all as complicated as we sometimes make it.
People ask if I miss working- and the truth is- no. But I do miss the broad range of people I encountered and the lessons I learned. It’s so easy to put ourselves into categories. To separate ourselves from others, based on a stupid adjective or noun. But I’m so grateful that I had that career and was able to see so many excruciating and exquisite aspects of the world from that particular angle.
They say people teach what they want to learn. I say I write what I want to learn too. I’m a fast learner- but also a fast forgetter. I still need reminders that we are more alike than different. Sometimes that’s a cozy place to think- especially when I think that no one understands how I feel about life or marriage or parenting or autism. Remember that if you feel deeply alone.
Sometimes autism creates extremely irregular emotions. Greyson will start to sob -huge, heaving tears out of nowhere. It breaks my heart. But sometimes the flip side is true- like today. He laughed ALL day today. And it sounds like a harp- captivating magic. And I couldn’t help but giggle with him as I wondered- what in the heck is so dang funny? I wish you could tell me.
The more he laughed, the more I did- which made him laugh even harder.
The laughing does get in the way of Speech Therapy though. I had to hold my mouth like a 3rd grader to stop from exploding into giggles with him.
Parker still has a cough hanging around but he is doing so much better. Thank you for your well wishes!
I was feeling wild and crazy- so for the last first time ever, I let Grey have his own little cart. He was so confused-he thought he was supposed to get inside it. He would lift his arms up to me to place him in it. No-you are too big. YOU push this one, I told him.
And he finally got the hang, and I was so happy…and a little nervous- because he kept running into my heels…and other people…and store displays.
Isn’t it funny- I used to only pull out a camera on Holidays or special occasions, but being a Mom makes a Monday at the grocery store a special occasion sometimes.
Go get this Tuesday, my Friend. I’ll be here doing the same Tuesday with you.