We recovered from the initial shock surrounding M's birth and learned how to navigate our new life. There were doctors appointments and endless therapy and hospital stays and medication and tests and countless procedures. There was researching doctors and fighting with insurance companies and raising a percocious two year old. There were challenges and set backs, but we found a new normal within the muck of it.
The years passed and the dust settled. M grew and thrived and so did we. Fears lessened and we figured out how to cope with the ones that remained. We began to shed the heaviness we'd been dragging around with us. And really, honestly, without a doubt: life is amazing.
If I am to be honest, there is a tiny piece of me, just a sliver, that feels that twinge of sadness around the time of M's birthday. It is like a weed in the garden...you pull it and discard it, but somehow it finds its way back in.
As they days lead up to M's birthday, there is a certain melancholy that exists. It is feeling haunted by the milestones that continue to elude my son. They are like a mirage....you can see them just in the distance but you cannot grasp them.
It is the gaps in development that, at times, seem to widen rather than close. It is wanting so much more for him and knowing that some things, for him, are not meant to be.
There is a shred of disappointment that in his life he has never, ever, asked for a single gift. He has never requested a particular themed party or wanted a cake adorned with whatever on-trend character little boys are into at the time. He has never had a celebration with peers and I know I will never have a flood of energetic boys decending upon my house.
When M's birthday nears, these feelings roll in and, quietly, like thick fog, surround me. I celebrate his life while grieving a loss. This is a little piece of rasing a child with special needs that is particularly difficult.
These feeling are only a small thread in the fabric of my emotion. Of course there is joy and love and peace and calm and happiness. Of course, the good far outweighs the bad.
Tomorrow M will wake and Miss J has already decided she will cook him pancakes and that we will pile into the bed to eat and watch cartoons. She has saved her money and bought him a large and ridiculously expensive single cookie on a stick and elaborately decorated with icing. She picked this knowing he would love it.
He will play outside with the dogs and we may venture to the park. His grandparents will take him out for a cheeseburger for lunch. In the evening we will meet with family and a few close friends at the beach. We'll kick a soccer ball and build sandcastles and chase the waves.
We'll put a ninth candle into his cake, grateful and acutely aware that each candle is a gift. We will allow M to eat as much cake as he wishes and we will smother his frosting coated face with kisses.
For M, the day will be perfect and during the celebration I will be reminded that a birthday is not an extensive guest list and hired entertainment and themed cakes and elaborate decorations.
I will pause and be grateful to celebrate M and all of the people who color his life. The day will be good and I will put my nine year old son to bed with a full and happy heart.