As we collectively adapt to stay connected, Co-Founder and Artistic Director Matt Guidry illustrates Upstream Arts’ philosophy and practice through beautiful stories of small moments in classrooms and connecting with his own son, Caleb.
I rocked my adult son to sleep last night.
The trazadone failing to knock him out. Once I give the dose to Caleb that I push through a plastic short syringe, the poetic sleepy time liquid bypasses his stomach completely via his G/J-tube and goes directly into the intestine and 60 seconds later it overtakes him and dreaming begins. Talk about a quick release.
Caleb lives in a group home, but is sometimes forced to stay the night with us when the group home he lives in can’t fill the overnight registered nurse staffing spot, the spot that is required to be present because Caleb is on a ventilator at night. Every other time he has slept over at our house for this reason he has faded quickly once the trazodone started swimming through his insides. But not last night.
Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, we hadn’t seen Caleb in nearly 14 weeks. It had been 3 months since a regular Saturday visit had happened.
He didn’t want to sleep? I don’t know. He wanted an explanation for our long absence? For everyone’s long absence.
But sitting on the edge of the bed and giving Caleb a straight explanation of why a video screen has been our only mode of connection, a straight explanation as I would give to someone (some son) who uses a form of common communication, that straight explanation wouldn’t work between me and Caleb.
So we sat there on the edge of the bed for many minutes after the trazadone entered his system, in our usual cloud of silence and understanding. Caleb refusing to move towards slumber. Then, together we lay down, on our sides, our bodies curved into a six-inch social distance spoon, my hand resting on his hip, rocking his body just a touch, as I had done when he was 8, 10, 12 years old. He is 29.
Early in the pandemic I had written I was finding comfort in the familiar musical score of my past. After 3 months of disconnection, Caleb and I reached back 20 years and (re)discovered a feeling in the physical that comforted us both.
We need connection. It is key to our well-being. Even the most introverted of us need that up close and kinesthetic interaction to stay grounded.
Upstream Arts’ work is built around learning through similar kinds of connections. Connections made through discovery, together, in those moments of waiting. It’s our practice, and one that we find ourselves compelled to exercise with great intention at this moment.
Connection and discovery are things we cannot forget or abandon, even in times of crisis.
Keep listening, keep connecting, and keep practicing being creative,
Read more of Matt’s In Small Moments here.