Sunday, June 7, 2009
A Milestone Birthday
Because I have been making it a habit to post my weekly newspaper columns on this blog too I am making this post. I have to be fair and say it is a revision of a post from this time last year, called "A Dozen Years Ago". I still can't believe this child who we almost didn't get to raise, is turning into a teenager this week. There is no question in my mind, we are blessed.
This week marks a big milestone in our family. Our third child turns into a teenager, making the total of teens in our house outnumber the number of parents. We will have this house of three teens for just a few years. By the time Sam turns 13, Meredith will be long past the turbulent years. I am pretty sure we will survive.
Although I was pretty scared of teenagers when our kids were preschoolers, I have learned firsthand that teenagers are not generic people. They are the growing up version of these people I have known since birth and have come to love and enjoy. They have their baffling quirks but these are mixed in with reassuring consistent habits that remind me who's really inside that package.
Last year, on his last birthday before the teen years, I wrote an essay for Isaac. He has a unique babyhood story and celebrating each new year of life is a joyful gift. Although he technically turns 13 this week, in honor of my maturing birthday boy, I would like to share with you the essay from last year. It is called,
"A Dozen Years Ago."
A dozen years ago God returned joy to our life.
My mom had died so suddenly and the months after were dark and thick with grief. But a healthy pregnancy came along and slowly, month by month, joy crept back into all the moments of our days.
A dozen years ago a big healthy baby boy dropped into the midwife's hands and let out his first squall. I was so concerned that he might not be healthy my first words were, "why is he purple??" The midwives reassured and within minutes he was tucked into his grateful mommy's arms.
A dozen years ago we brought that sweet baby home to two siblings who tripped over themselves to care for him. Their own real life doll.
A dozen years and six weeks ago that baby got sick. Very sick. We spent day after day in the local hospital, then the children's hospital, waiting for a test that would come back positive and tell us how to cure our boy. There were no answers and hope began to slip away.
A dozen years and eight weeks ago I rocked that baby boy, the one who had brought joy back into my home. In the darkness of a hospital room in the middle of a thunderstorm I wept as we rocked back and forth, his shallow baby breath mixing with the tears that flowed down my face and onto my neck. He was wasting away and there were no answers.
A dozen years and eight weeks ago I wondered, 'will the summer of 1996 be the summer we look back on and say, 'that's the summer we lost the baby' or will we tell it in other ways - 'that's the summer our second boy was sick' ?
I am so thankful we get to celebrate today. Celebrate that a dozen years ago a sweet baby boy came into our family, got very sick, then was given back to us by very smart doctors who never gave up on him.
I celebrate in my heart on June 16th every year. Not just because it is my son's birthday. But because he is the son I almost didn't get to keep. The son I almost lost two years to the day after I stood by my mother's fresh grave. The son whose name means laughter and who's bright spirit radiates through our house.
I am so thankful. So thankful we got him back. So thankful he grows healthier every year. So thankful God dropped him into our family.
A dozen years ago.
Happy birthday, my sweet middle boy. I have no idea what the next five years will bring but I will be thankful for speed bumps caused my teenage hormones. You remind me that every step of life is precious and nothing can be taken for granted. You'll never know how thankful your dad and I were, just a dozen years ago, that smart doctors figured out your ailment and gave you a future.
It is your birthday but we got the gift.