I often think back to the moment Curren was born, a 9 lb pink and cooing healthy baby. I remember the rush of relief when I saw his 10 fingers and 10 toes, his plump and beautiful face, and his perfectly round head. “Congratulations, he is healthy and normal” they said! I think back to the first few months of his life and how blissful and perfect it all felt. Curren was a happy, laid back baby who slept great and loved to snuggle; life was fantastic. My mind often went to dreams of the future. I saw visions of Curren chasing Weston in the backyard, of them darting out of their beds on Christmas morning to see their presents, of boogie boarding together at the beach, of the boys coming to our house at the holidays with their children/my grandchildren. It is heavy and devastating to give up on those picturesque visions. My grief is not in the mourning of a death, but sorrow for the devastation that has shattered my dreams. I am grieving the child that I lost, but that I still have.
What does my grief look like? It is the embarrassment after bystanders wanted to call 911 on my child who was having a sensory meltdown at the crowded reading of The Polar Express at Barnes and Noble. It is the shame felt watching someone ask Curren to clap or crawl for them like he is a dog being asked to perform on command. It is the pain left after a stranger questioned what was wrong with his legs on the first day out in his wheelchair. It is the desperation I feel after working a full time job and knowing I am coming home to another full time job of carrying, wiping, hand feeding, soothing, holding, teaching, loving, case managing, applying, appealing, and researching – all which may be necessary for decades longer or until my body can no longer do it. It is the anger burning inside in knowing that my son has important things to say, but that we have not yet found a way to make it so we understand him. It is the stinging sadness I swallow when parents complain about how they wished their child wouldn’t talk so much or how exhausted they are chasing after their baby who can now walk. But mostly, it is the guilt following the acknowledgement of embarrassment, shame, pain, desperation, anger or sadness.
Don’t mistake my grief for negativity. In fact, I feel more optimistic that ever about the future. My intense love and pride for my child is not in question, but the disability that has shattered my dreams is always stinging. The grieving never ends – there are no stages or moving on. I am, however, blessed to accept and embrace grief. Ironically, grief and hope seem to have a direct relationship for me. My grief inspires our journey, and it is the reason we do the things we do.
How do I stay hopeful and optimistic? I honestly don’t stray too far from the present. Life is precious, and what we have today, we may not tomorrow – and even if it’s not what we first dreamed of, it is still a tremendous gift. Curren is not able to chase Weston, but that doesn’t mean they don’t play in other beautiful ways. The excitement of Santa’s presents still happens, we’re just not barreling down the hallway on our own to see what is in the living room. We go the beach and have a blast (although it is exhausting). We work hard on the things that keep this grief burning, and will one day walk and communicate important things. My dreams are still here, they are just a variation of my first vision. The common theme to it all was laughter, happiness, and joy – and we definitely have that. Life is unexpected, unplanned, and beautiful.
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I am a mother, architect, wife, and a lover (not a fighter) - with a thirst for knowledge. My journey been recently refocused, as my family navigates through the world of medical and developmental uncertainty in hopes of providing every opportunity for my son to be his personal best in life.