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.