Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy Day

January 29, 1998....I was terrified. Just 17 months prior, I had been right there...same hospital, same doctor, two of the same nurses. But thankfully that trip to Trinity Medical Center ended differently. We took our baby home.

Today, my Ten Year Old becomes my Eleven Year Old. I love this boy with every fiber of my being. He changed my life. Times have not always been easy for the two of us. He has sailed some stormy seas with me. He came into my life when I was not fully healed. He entered this world to find a mother clinging to the bitterness of her loss. Even after the birth of this perfectly healthy child, I remained angry at everyone. Why? Because that was how I made sure no one ever forgot his big sister.

My precious son often paid the price for my pain. I was overbearing, overprotective, and entirely too controlling. At two years old, he cried if he forgot to place his shoes neatly in his closet before bed. Most days, my little guy walked on egg shells. When his Daddy or Nana came into a room, you could visibly see his shoulders relax. I made him tense. When Carlin spent weekends with us, he was thrilled. He loved the days I taught voice lessons because his "Britty" babysat him. With me? Well, he just wanted to make me happy.

Journeying through grief is exhausting. It took me a long time. But, my son walked with me every step of the way. There were moments so dark, I thought it would be best if I didn't exist. I contemplated how I could make that happen, without traumatizing my sweet husband (I treated this wonderful man so horribly, I believed he would be better off without me). But deep down, I knew the answers to my suffering would not come through losing hope. And I absolutely could not leave my son. He needed a mother, even if she was broken.

Several years ago, as I talked with my sister-in-law, I expressed deep regret that a small child ever had to walk the grief path with his mother. I was certain I had scarred this amazing little spirit beyond repair. Had he ever even heard me laugh? How often did we cuddle on the couch? Did we spend mornings at the park? Most likely not. I was consumed with organizing and cleaning, accomplishing tasks...controlling any and everything I possibly could. And if I couldn't, I suffered panic attacks. He had not seen me at my best. I wasn't sure he ever would.
My son was so serious and reserved. He was nowhere near carefree. What had I done to him? I wept as I told her I was afraid my son might never forgive me. I wept as I told her that my Heavenly Father must be so disappointed in me. Maybe I just didn't deserve to be a mother. I will never forget her response...I think Heavenly Father sent this child exactly when you needed him. He sent you a forgiving, gentle spirit. One who could relieve some of his mother's pain. She assured me that if I could find peace, my son would be just fine. My sister-in-law was right.

Our home is very different now. It is full of laughter and joy. My son can relax and he's rarely reserved. He loves family game nights, acting out movie parts, and having fun with friends. This boy is witty, and makes people laugh. He gets serious when it comes to his art and schoolwork. His teachers say talking with him is like talking to an adult, but much more enjoyable. He is gentle and kind, a wonderful brother to his younger siblings. He has an internal compass like no other.

I will be forever grateful to my Father in Heaven for the blessing of my son. This child is willing to look beyond my countless imperfections, always quick to forgive and forget. Happy Birthday my sweet Eleven Year Old. Words can not express my love for you. On this day, with all its talk of gifts, I wonder...do you realize you are the gift? Thank you for walking with me.

18 comments:

Brittany and Matt said...

Natalie, I'm not much of a blog "commenter" and I actually just found your blog. BUT, I couldn't help it when I saw that he is 11! I just can't believe it, and as I sit here with my baby boy I kind of panic at the thought of how fast time goes. I have so many fun memories of spending time with Cade, he was the sweetest little thing ever! Please give him a big birthday hug from me!! Wish we could see you guys
-Brittany

KC Mom said...

I can't believe your beautiful, sweet boy is 11! He is one of the most beautiful children I have ever seen...inside and out. He truly came to you when you needed him most and I also believe he was a chosen spirit for that specific time in your life. I know he will be more wise and in tune with other's feeling and have more compassion because of the things he helped you get through. What a perfect tribute to your boy on his birthday. It describes him perfectly...he really is such a gift.

emily said...

i can't get over how amazing of a writer you are! i don't know how you do it, but you suck me in and i feel like i'm standing right there with you. i love hearing your stories and the strength you've gained through them.

mom said...

You know the "waterworks" are streaming right now. My precious little man, Cade...the one who kept all our worlds turning at a very still and dark time.

You said it all, Natalie. Your honesty, courage, and humility are some of the very things that brought him beyond that difficult time. How true...the exact spirit you needed, one who when he saw you he only knew he loved you beyond measure. One who's heart is so tender and mind so brilliant, that he could understand things well beyond his little years and he could love so deep that the love always compelled him forward.

Indeed, he is one of God's most beautiful creations (no truer words, inside and out). Cade has taught us all. A gentle, tender spirit who always seems to float just above the "kid" line...one who sees things and people through different eyes. One who seems to embody the best of so many.

Those who know our family, know all too well, "Nana and Cade." He pulled me through some of those very difficult days, as well. You know that my "word" for you in my life has always been my "HOPE." The days I longed to hold you and take all your pain and suffering away, I could hold Cade, for me and for you, and I KNEW there was "hope." You WOULD make it through the bitter dark abyss and find light. The light he brought back into all our lives. He would NEVER let anyone forget his big sister....he never has. She was too perfect for this world and Cade brought to us a a glimmer of that perfection. God's grace and mercy....Cade's light would shine for us all.

Most of all...God gave Cade you, as a mother....someone who would be strong enough to fight her way back and yet, humble enough to recognize the tough times the little man had to bear. He gave Cade a father who has been a spiritual giant in your family. His compassion, understanding and integrity are just a few of his "gifts." A father who loved Cade's mother unconditionally. A father who could see beyond the darkness even if he could not help you reach beyond it at the time. A father who would carry you through it if you never became strong enough to walk through on your own. I am certain there were days he did just that.

Cade...my little man, Happy Birthday....you are loved. But most importantly, you are blessed. Just look around you today. You are surrounded by love, joy, laughter, and peace in your home with your parents and brother and sisters.

"To the Moon and Stars and Back!"
Nana

Gretchen said...

I can relate -- real time actually -- to what you describe of your son's early years. Thank you for sharing it, and especially for sharing how you have both come out on the other side whole. I wish there were a fast track for me to arrive at the place you have ...I do, but I don't... and then we are back to your post from a couple days ago:).

Gretchen

Gretchen said...

Forgot to add a big Happy Birthday to Cade!

Kim said...

What a great day for Cade and a beautiful tribute to your son. We LOVED having him in our home for a couple of days last summer and my kids are hoping he comes to visit again this year. You are an amazing mother with incredible insight and love for ALL of your children.

L said...

I am so thankful for Christs redemptive power that even when we mess up, his Grace and mercy is new every morning and He brings complete restoration even when we mess up.

I just want to hug you!

Shauna said...

I am with your mom...total waterworks, mascara and all. I can not believe he is 11! What a beautiful post of inspiration to know that you can walk through darkness and find the light, and that heavenly father knows our pain and comforts us through others. Cade is a gift, and he is blessed with a wonderful strong mom! happy birthday. ps if you have an 11 year old, that means your getting old girl:) JK

Sue said...

What a beautiful tribute to your son, Natalie. Thanks for sharing it...

And the happiest of happy birthdays to you, Cade!

=)

little jill said...

At a baptism once the speaker discussed the idea that some spirits are older than other spirits. it just might be in this case. It's awesome to think that you may be a younger spirit than your son. He may be spiritually wiser and stronger and more prepared. Just younger in this life.

Something to think about.

Aubrey said...

I love your son with all my heart!!! I still have 2 drawings he drew for me on the back of my door so I see them everyday :) He was one of my best friends when y'all lived here. I miss you guys so much!!!

Carly said...

Just beautiful Natalie. I love your honesty.

My girls have a broken mother. But they see past any sadness. They are children and children love their parents more than anything in the world.

Happy birthday to both our kids!

With Love Carly x

MammaWarrior said...

Happy Birthday late Mr.Giver of happiness!! How proud you must be Natalie! I am crying with tears hot burning my cheeks. I am so terrified right now and then to read this, at least I know I am not insane!! And you were right you did understand. I too just said I didn't want the world to forget my baby girl! ((hugs))

Ty and Jacki Hanks said...

That is the sweetest message to your little but big Cade. That was beautiful. You are perfect in every way...don't ever look back. You are an inspiration to all...I look up to ya!

karen said...

Natalie, I can so relate to the "broken mother" feeling. With my divorce several years ago, my kids went through a lot with me. I was kind of a mess, and wasn't always the best mom because I was so sad. But they hung in there for me, always giving me the reassurance I needed. I'm sure you were given the special spirit you needed in your darkest hour. I know I was, and I can never thank them, or love them enough for standing by me with patience & understanding beyond their years.

Mommy (You can call me OM) said...

Thank you for showing us what joy can come with our children, years after the most horrible loss. I worry about my living children as I lie here in bed most of the day.

kristy said...

This. Is. Perfect.