The Bright Boy Turns 20
Twenty years ago today, after 19 long hours of labor, after nine months of an extremely complicated pregnancy and preeclampsia, four months on bedrest, and some 80 pounds of weight gain, my bright boy was born.
He was a difficult baby and although it took years to figure out why, to have the diagnosis of autism and finally be able to put the pieces together, he was my heart, my soul, my reason for breathing.
At five, he had an infection in his blood and two days in the hospital. As scary as that was, at nine he had a stroke and a week in the hospital, followed by six months of trying to figure out why he had the stroke in the first place. Ultimately, we found out that he had a hereditary blood clotting disorder and that his father has it, too. And a new way of living, in addition to the autism, was added to our way of being. The first years after the stroke, I was pretty much terrified that it would happen again (and it can; he and his father both have about a 3-5 chance in a 1000 each year of having a blood clot), and then I learned to breathe and let go of what could not be controlled. It isn't in my hands. We're vigilant, we're aware, but we let him play basketball. We backed off and let him be.
It's been ten and a half years since that stroke. I can close my eyes and be back in those moments, the fear rising up in my throat, the sense of drowning, the terror all real again, all here-and-now. And then I open my eyes, tuck it all away again and look at the beautiful young man who stands in front of me, who shines with a joy that is deep and abiding.
Nearly 11 years ago I really learned, really understood that I could lose him, lose it all, lose my reason for breathing. And that this could happen any day, any time, that there are no guarantees. It fundamentally changed me, changed how I viewed his future. I pulled him out of the school system where he was unhappy and warehoused. And I decided to give him each day the time and the attention and the love, to make sure if I lost him, lost my reason to breathe, that there would be no regrets on my part, that I would have given him a happy life where he knew he was loved and valued and protected from those who would take that sense of being of value away from him.
I have loosened my hold, let him venture into the world, find a place for himself, and while he is still my reason for breath, he is not my only reason. We breathe independently now, as it should be, as my son turns 20.
Crafted for your viewing consumption by Kim Wombles