By Jessica Tam (Wish) [CC-BY-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Her daughter turned eighteen towards the end of her Junior year. Maeve knew she wouldn’t have all the answers then, but she’d hoped for something… more. Something definitive. A label perhaps, or a plan.

Fortunately, she still had the entire school team, nay, the entire village that is required to raise a child with special needs, for one more year.

The senior year came and went.

And there was still no label, no distinct road to follow. It was like driving in Wyoming during a bad snowstorm; you inch along because if you don’t get somewhere you’ll surely freeze and die, but you can’t see more than inches in front of your face.

There was a plan. At least they had a plan. What a wonderful, handy dandy thing to have, a plan.

Maeve had a wish.

How do I make my daughter’s life as fulfilling and wonderful as it could possibly be?

She looked at her teenage daughter, the twelve year old stuck in a nineteen year old body with the expectations that went with it. Her daughter also had a wish.

How do I get through this as easy as possible?

They told her that these kids, these children with special needs, were always trying their very best and doing the hardest work, even if it was frustrating for the parents and the team. Even if it seemed like they weren’t trying at all.

The experts were idiots. The experts knew how to generalize and compare and see the “big picture.” Maeve knew her daughter. Yes, her daughter’s brain was hard at work. But it wasn’t working on how to make an independent life for herself, or how to conquer the demons and disabilities that plagued her. No, that brain was occupied with other things. Survival. Because when you spend the first few years of your life not knowing from moment to moment whether you will survive, whether the boogey-man your drug-addled birth mother tells you about might come to get you…whether your drunken birth father really is that boogey-man or whether it’s one of the other men who haunt the shelter… when your childhood is spent that way, you never lose the instinct to survive. She was only grown-up in body and legal statistics. Her mind was still a child’s, and probably always would be.

And that child was scared to death of the big bad world.

Fifteen years was not enough. Maeve doubted whether thirty would be enough. She saw the past and glimpsed the pending.

She could always only glimpse the pending.

This story is unrelated to any other I’ve done. It is my linky for the Write On Edge prompt that is the word “WISH” and the song by The Shins “Past and Pending.” It is fiction, not memoir, though I admit that it was partly inspired by my worry over what might face my daughter a few years from now when she turns eighteen.