Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Waiting for my Door To Open

It took me a week to recover from the brutality of Mother's day. I anticipated the day would be hard, but never did I anticipate how devastated I would be through out the day. Or how my family would react. The day started off nice enough, that is until Fric and Frac gave me my well-deserved presents. When I opened my son's card and read what he wrote, I knew then that I would not be in control of my grief for the remainder of the day. Frac wrote a poem, an ode really, of all the reasons he loved me. Apparently he is fond of my cooking (you gotta love Kraft dinner and Chef Boy-R-dee), my cleaning (the dust bunnies are the newest members of our family) and my yellow streaky hair. (Might be time to find a new hairdresser.) But the part that made me misty eyed was "I love my mommy because she tried to keep my brother alive."


I wish that I was further along in this grief process. I wish my kids never had to go through this. While I'm wishing, I wish for my Bug... However, as reality is banging in my ear, I know I need to stop wishing. Soldier on, and face the harsh light of day.

I read somewhere that around the six month mark the grieving process gets really intense. I couldn't fathom that. How could it be any more intense than the searing pain that was ripping my soul apart? But as I am discovering, it isn't the grief that is getting more intense. It's the sadness. Sadness due to the constant grieving. Sadness due to coping with a new reality, forming a new identity every day. Sadness that comes from family members and friends who no longer remember you are grieving, who no longer mourn the loss of the boy who was. Sadness due to chronic missing my child, my friend.

I have to believe everything happens for a reason. The reason for Bug's birth and subsequent handicaps. The reason for his and our struggles to cope with his life and now, the reason for his death. And I firmly believe that with one door closing another door opens.

So I am sitting here, waiting for my door to open. While missing my bug.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Mother Is Made

Mother's Day is around the corner. And as I sifted through the cards at Hallmark, looking for the appropriate card for my mother and my MIL, I got to thinking what it meant to be a mom myself. Obviously, I know what it means to be a mother. Gestating life inside me and then squeezing the little overgrown buggers out of my vajayjay is not something a woman would easily forget. No, I am referring to the reflection of what it means to me to be a mother.

Before my youngest was born, I wore the identity of young mother to two-so-close-in-age-and-size-they-could-be-twins children. I wore this badge proudly. I grew up thinking the only thing I wanted to be when I grew up was successful, and being a parent was not my idea of success. But then procreation happened, and I found out my definition for success changed with the birth of my daughter. Success now meant happy children. And I loved every minute of it.

Then my Shalebug came along. After two cute, so small-you-could-hardly-tell-I-was-pregnant bellies, I suddenly had this gigantic watermelon strapped to my chest. It was the first sign of what was to come. When he arrived, suddenly my world turned upside down. Having a child born handicapped will make you question everything. My hubs and I were shocked, and we grieved for the loss of our imaginary son. We grieved for the limitations our new son faced. We just plain ole grieved. But for the sake of my new son (and my other children) we got over our grief and moved on with the task of living. And redefining what it meant to be a successful mom.

Success now meant being the mother to two beautiful, healthy boogers and one very special bug. It meant soccer practices and tube feedings. Parent teacher interviews and specialist appointments. It meant school plays and hospital stays. And somehow, this worked. Our family flourished and grew. And my idea of what it meant to be a mother just expanded every day with the love I felt for all of my kids.

People who didn't know my Shalebug were uncomfortable with him. They felt sorry for us. I raged about this. Ignorant bastards, I'd call them. But as time went on, it was me who started feeling sorry for them. They had no idea of the capacity of love and strength a person with a disability carries with them every day, in addition to their medical problems. Bug taught all of us to open our minds and our hearts, in a way that I never would have considered before he was born.

Would I have chose to have a disabled child? Truthfully, no. I would have been freaked out and scared at the idea. But because I had no choice, it was the best thing to ever happen to me. Bar none. I used to call myself a mom before he was born, but I don't think I was. It was more like a mom-in-waiting. And the gift of mothering all three of those beauties is what made me a mother.

Now that he is gone, I feel this empty hole, that rages to be filled. And the gap in our family is felt by every member. But I am lucky because I had him in the first place. My children had an amazing experience learning how to be siblings to someone who needed a little extra love. While I would wish him back in a heart beat, I will carry the lessons and the love he gave me always.

Being a mother means (to me) giving away a piece of your heart, knowing you can't ever have it back. It means trusting yourself to put your kids ahead of your needs and wants and to find peace and solace in their love. Being a mother now means that if the unthinkable happens, you will be the rock that the other's cling to, the one to murmur sweet nothings in the middle of the scary night. The one who cuts the flowers to lay at the base of the granite stone.

It also means remembering to smile and untangle hair knots, pump up bicycle tires and attend school plays. While wiping away tears that fall softly when an angelboy flutters about in my heart.

So thank you dear Skjel, my Shalebug. Because you made me into the mother I am. And that is the greatest mother's day gift of all.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Bug Bites

I was bit by my first mosquito of the season yesterday. As I sat and scratched it, worrying whether I had just contracted West Nile virus or Malaria, I thought of Bug. He had the fairest lily white skin of all my children. The skin on his legs was rough, and constantly dry. The skin on his fore arms was dry as well. And his fingers sported great big thick callosuses from being in his mouth all the time. But everywhere else his skin was soft and smooth.

Every year, he was skeeter bait. My poor boy couldn't fight the bugs off himself, and we had a terrible time with lotion. So, inevitably, he came away from his foray outdoors with more than his share of bug bites. And a mosquito bite on Shalebug would last for weeks. His beautiful skin just had a terrible time clearing up after being vandalised by those bastards.

As I scratch and whine about the itching, I know that Bug won't be bit again. Never again. And part of me is soooooo sad about that, but part of me is more like "Ha! Take that you stupid skeeters! I finally found a repellent that works! Au du Death!" Perhaps I need to up my therapy time...

But I think back to that night, how it was like any other night, how up until the very end, I never, not once, thought my son was dying. That my time with him was finite and running out quickly. Like a car accident that you don't see coming. And then WHAM! it hits. And everything changes. I am grappling with how mortal we are. I never gave it much thought before. I knew we died, have seen people die, have been to their funerals. I understood what it means to miss someone and never be able to talk to them again. I just never put it in respect with myself or that of my family.

As I watch Fric and Frac bounce on the trampoline and strap on their bike helmets, I wonder now, is this the last thing they will do? Will there be a tomorrow for any of us? And I resent these thoughts. But at the same time, they are golden, for they make me take the time to stop and enjoy the moment; to really live. I thought I was doing that before, and maybe I was, but now I am extremely aware of my minutes on Earth. And my family's time with me. Because you never know when Death is knocking on your door.

So, I will sit and scratch my skeeter bites. And try to enjoy doing it. But I am still going to buy some super strong repellent.