For the last few weeks, my Peanut has been gagging with each bite. For a week straight, he’s thrown up every, single, meal.
He’s almost five, so it is pretty gross (as compared to the sweet little spit up of newborns that actually smells kind-of-nice), but it’s quite an improvement from the screaming. Bloody. MURDER. That he was doing while we stayed with my parents over Christmas. For weeks on end. (Doesn’t that make you want to invite us over?!)
And, Dreamboat and I are getting pretty good at catching the vomit. So the cleanup is really minimal.
So, I left Dreamboat to pick up the older kiddo’s, and took the little guy to Whole Foods between a myriad of other “to-do’s” on my list. (I’m totally being honest here. This day didn’t include a single guilty pleasure. Really. Not even a Starbucks stop. Or walking through Z Gallerie to be amazed by all the shiny, sparkly things. Or browsing Target aisles to get some quiet. Just C.H.O.R.E.S.)
After a whole two minutes of being patient while Peanut drove the shopping cart into elaborate displays (no doubt also very expensive displays, as this was Whole Foods, or as some friends call it, “Whole Paycheck”), I forcefully stuck Peanut in the seat of the cart. For a moment I was grateful that he is small enough, barely, to fit there. Even if I have to make it work by bending his ankles in directions that look wholly unnatural. (He’s never mentioned it hurting. The fact that he doesn’t speak is irrelevant). And we headed inside with my list of dairy-free, high calorie, foods, that he can eat to gain weight. Hopefully. And not throw up on me. Or the new carpet.
We found some Hemp Milk. And some more Z Bars. And pieces of dates small enough that he can chew. And, I let him sample every single thing he pointed at, without paying for them first. Which I NEVER would let my other kids do. Ever. (Don’t judge. He’s my third child. And they’ve worn me down.)
And, I got distracted, (but there’s no need to mention it was inevitable) and started salivating over the fresh salad bars (which were NOT on my list as I’ve not received a paycheck in over 18 months). Yep, four rows of organic, local, fresh, salad bars.
I started filling the cart.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a mama, just like me, with her daughter.
She was patient. She was encouraging. She was supportive. I could tell she was fierce. A warrior. In her own world.
I heard her speaking kind words to her daughter. For MORE than two minutes even.
But, she wasn’t making eye contact with the other shoppers.
And, without thinking, I spoke to her, “We had a walker just like that!”
I had to say it twice.
Eventually, my words broke through her protective bubble. And she sort-of-smiled, unbelieving, up at me, “really?”
She asked, and waited, while her daughter, Grace, introduced herself. (I had to wait for the Mama to translate her daughter’s sweet, but mostly incoherent, sounds.)
She was beautiful.
And a year older than my Peanut. Helping her Mama pick out a nutritious salad. They asked about him, and I answered. Giving them his name and age. While he smiled.
And said nothing.
But, the Mama nodded. Understanding. Accepting.
Grace turned in her walker and looked at me. I congratulated her on being such a great helper.
She beamed. And waved goodbye, shaking her arm emphatically.
And Peanut and I moved on to the next aisle to continue our search for high-calorie, non-dairy, foods.
But then my eyes started leaking. Badly. And, I had to wait it out in the refrigerated section. And I folded my body forward protectively, over Peanut, and let the tears fall. For a long time, unable to hide that there is a place deep inside. That is broken. Still.
Trying to pull myself together was like trying to sew up a seam that’s been ripped open. When the garment is two sizes too small. (FYI – That’s never happened to me.)
And, like Grace’s Mama avoided eye contact with me, I’m afraid I gave the same treatment to the cashier. Which of course fooled him into thinking I was fine.
I’m sorry I didn’t get Grace’s Mama’s name.
I’m sorry I didn’t give her mine. It would have been good for me, and hopefully for her, to have a friend in the area. Someone who understands being a special needs family.
But the pain took me by surprise and overwhelmed me.
I guess there’s part of me that isn’t fine.
Just like all those other blogs, where women are grateful, and happy even, for their little ones, regardless of whether they can’t yet call their names.
I guess I’m still hurting. Or hurting again. Either way, it’s the same thing….
Having this little one, my child, is a gift.
But it’s a gift that hurts.
I can’t protect him.
And, he can’t protect me.
But, we can be vulnerable together, which brings great joy. And we can be grateful, for the beauty that fills our lives. Grateful for the amazing memories we share, and the love we infuse into each other’s lives.
You may not have seen the news last week about a car crashing into a daycare in Florida on Wednesday. But I can’t speak about it yet.
I watched the short news clip, taken from a helicopter circling above and was immediately reliving the overwhelming panic of that day, four years ago, when a car drove through Peanut’s daycare, forever changing our lives into ‘before’ and ‘after’ that day. And it somehow triggered the sorrow of each day since.
My heart is broken for the family of the little girl who died. For several of the twelve injured children who are still in critical care. For the day-care worker, suffering with pain, sorrow, and irrational guilt, for being unable to protect her sweet charges.
I can identify with what they are facing. I can glimpse what they may continue to face for their lifetimes. After the hospitalizations are, hopefully, behind them. After the external healing has long since taken place, and their bodies are well. But the post-traumatic stress from overwhelming, prolonged fear, made worse by the news helicopters hovering above their heads. And the daily therapies. And the walkers and communication devices. And developmental delays. That are here to stay.
I can say to these families that life will be hard. Brutal even.
But, life together will also be precious.
Each hug, each milestone accomplished will be celebrated that much more for all the months and years of work required to achieve it.
And as last Sunday was Easter, I’ve been thinking about Jesus. (Did you know that only 18% of the people in our world don’t believe in God? Most of the world’s religions do believe in God, and believe Jesus was either God or a Prophet.)
I’ve been thinking about how he gave up his life to carry love.
And that on Easter Sunday, if it was me (we can all thank God it wasn’t), I would have come back to KICK. Some. Ass.
He didn’t. He came back to love. Again.
So I can carry my heart, filled with pain and love, and ask God to rain down on me, please, to try and grow the love part.
And I read this morning that “The broken places heal first.” So, there’s that. And I’m holding to it.