Sunday, February 22, 2009

I take pictures of my lattes

Yes, that's right. Why wouldn't I? Isn't this the most beautiful latte you've ever seen? A single rose etched into my decaf extra foamy. I actually pondered for quite a while whether I could add sugar and stir. So, stalling, I took a picture. But actually it was more than just the physical beauty of this latte that prompted me to capture it on my's also about timing and community and kind gestures.

I remember the day I ordered this latte -- I was exhausted and discouraged. It was yet another week of too many educational meetings and doctor appointments, one on top of the other. Thanks to my iphone sending out reminders, I was able to remember where to go and when. Typically it is Oscar, sometimes Ruby, and now Abe that I am carting around to specialists. But this particular week most of the medical appointments were for me since, as it turns out, having a child with special needs is stressful (duh!) and stress really does lead to medical issues. (I really never thought this would happen to me because I am strong, whatever that means, and anyway the stress is all in my head, right?)

Wrong. Very wrong. Since Oscar was born, I've had my fair share of stress related issues. The scariest was the six months of dizziness I endured in 2007. I constantly felt like I was on a small boat rocking in high seas. My vertigo was exacerbated by a plane trip to Hawaii, making me feel crazy and unsettled for the entire 10 day vacation that I sorely needed. After seeing a whole mess of specialists over a 5 month period, a neurologist finally prescribed vestibular exercises to strengthen my inner ear. It actually worked-but not before the anxiety over the dizziness and it's cause (brain tumor?, MS?...) led me to near panic attacks and a diagnosis of "major depressive disorder". Of course, then I had to get help with that. More specialists, some medication, yuck.

The dizziness is gone now, and the anxiety and depression well-managed, but still, in the past year I have had more biopsies, ultrasounds, and MRIs than I can count. I now have my very own medical binder, divided by specialty, just like Oscar's. Thankfully all the tests have been negative, and aside from a 2 inch scar on my right breast, I am physically unscathed. However, there has been an emotional toll. I am so tired of medical issues running my life as they have been for 8 years now. At times I have wondered if I am making this all up. Am I hyper-vigilant and seeking medical consultation when none is warranted? No, yes...but, no. Am I afraid of being caught unprepared again as I was with Oscar's diagnosis? Perhaps, but is that so bad?

So that is how I was feeling that gray day in December when the kind barista at Cafe Roma on College handed me this beautiful latte. I felt so grateful, and cared for, in that anonymous sort of way. Maybe he recognized me? I am an occasional customer, but usually, if I have time to treat myself to a latte, it is a high point in my day so I am smiley and chipper. But not that day -instead I was flat, glum, and slow, pondering my seemingly pathetic life and the fact that I have more doctors and therapists in my contacts than actual friends. Enter this rose, this beautiful rose. It was exactly what I needed. I took this picture because I wanted to remember not only the latte, but the moment, and how this simple gesture literally brightened my day and helped me find my balance again. I know we all have burdens, and many way more significant than mine. But we as a community (virtual and actual) really can look out for one another in small but important ways as we face our individual challenges.

Since then, the barista on College and his pal at the Cafe Roma on Shattuck have treated me to quite a few beauties and cuties. None will ever match that rose, but each time I get a "special" latte I am reminded of the power of a simple gesture. So I am trying to reach out to others in meaningful ways. I am trying to dwell less on the negative and more on the positive, and I am trying to see beauty in even the most difficult times...and if that means I need to get more lattes then so be it!

Here are some other lattes that made me smile. (A teddy bear, a smiley face, and in case you can't tell, the last one reads "Fake Latte" because I always order decaf.)


  1. I'm happy I got to see the photos of your fabulous lattes, but also glad I got to catch up on some of the details in your life -- gate pickup isn't always conducive to lengthy conversation, but I have been thinking and wondering how you're all doing. Want to try again to find a day to have coffee? :-)

  2. I would really love that! When is good for you?

  3. i want a picture in my latte -- how weird and wonderful

  4. This is wonderful, Mary, pictures aside. You've captured it perfectly, all right here, you don't really need to write that whole book, though there is so much more that could be said.

  5. Elizabeth -- if you ever travel up north I will happily point you to this cafe. And thanks Wendy, your words mean so much to me...especially since none of this is new to you!

  6. Just wanted to stop by to thank you for your comment on my post on residential treatment at Hopeful Parents. I appreciate your connection. Nice lattes, by the way!