Today is a big day for us in many ways. August 29th. I can barely believe it really. Barely believe it has been exactly one year since the grief came knocking and overwhelmed the joy of that sweet ultrasound. We had waited ever so long. Tried for all those years to have a baby while babies seemed to be falling freely from the heavens on all those around us, even those I decided didn’t deserve it. I was 12 weeks, 3 days pregnant and this was our 2nd precious glimpse of this God-given miracle. And then she said it, the doctor…right there in that room, that seemingly sacred space and darkness of an ultrasound, “I don’t think I see legs.”
It was quite simply like falling into a vortex. One minute you’re on solid ground. The next, you’re falling uncontrollably down into a darkness you have not known, into a place no one could have prepared you for; a spinning, wobbling uncertainty that pulls your heart apart like a centrifuge. Of course she must be mistaken, right? Who doesn’t have legs?
Well, my baby apparently. It seems fitting then, for today to be the day my chubby almost 6 month old baby boy, hubby and I are getting ready to board a plane on our first great overseas adventure. Cade, you have some crazy parents. Just wait my son, just wait and see where you can go with those silly feet. I hope great things over you. That you get to climb the fjords of Norway on your own two legs someday. But what a difference a year makes. I could never have imagined a year ago today that we would be okay. As okay as it can be I suppose. That there would again be light, that there would be travel and smiles in our future. It seemed too dark at the time. My husband likes to say, “see I told you” in reference to things turning out okay when my doom gloom heart can’t see it. But what he doesn’t realize is that EVERY mountain appears too tall when you’re standing at the bottom of it. Every grief journey seems to be unbearable, never ending, when you’re in the midst of it.
I’ve been mulling over this journey quite a bit in recent days because grief seems to be everywhere. All over the news, in everyone’s life. In fact I’m fairly certain everyone’s got some anchoring to it or will. Some are currently so deeply entrenched in their own grief they see only their own faces, others are on the cusp of it and afraid to see it lurking there in the shadows. I am blessed to get to hold my babe, and cuddle him and be his momma. But I also have the lurking grief of watching him live in this hurtful world (“mom why does that baby not have feet?”) and will all too soon hand him over to a medical team that will make him different in ways I do not want.
This is a hard place to be. To live within the tension of the ‘here and now’ and ‘not yet been.’ To exist on a plane of recognizing he is mine, only for a time. And soon, all too soon, he will be made different for a purpose, for his future. Surgery to allow him to be active and dare I say, normal, although I hate that word. This whole process sucks to be completely honest. There are days I hold his sweet foot in my hand while he is nursing and I want to scream up at God. Who does this to a person? How am I strong enough for this? For fear of sounding dramatic, there are freakin feet everywhere. Perfect 5 toed feet. Heck, I look down and there they are. People put their children’s feet on shirts. They complain about how quickly they are outgrowing their shoes. They make Christmas ornaments out of their foot prints. Maybe I’m overly sensitive. I think that’s probably it. But on November 6, 2014 the doctor’s at Children’s Hospital Boston are going to take my babies’ foot away and that is still a hard pill to swallow. Because he only has one. Because I love him the way he is. Because those three toes are perfect to me.
So today, one year later, I remember kind words, the sacrifice of friends and family, hugs given, grief shared, and the many tears fallen. I remember where I was and the journey between. I look at this smiley, chunky boy and lift up praises to the One who allows him to be. I am thankful for his time in my life. I continue to hold the gift of my child in balance with the grief humanity experiences and ultimately as C.S. Lewis writes in A Grief Observed, “I need Christ, not something that resembles Him.” I need to remember now and forever more that there is nothing in this whole world that fills that hole in our souls. Not perfect feet. Not ten perfect toes. Not a perfect existence free from pain and suffering. Not climbing high into the Fjords of Norway and showing our baby boy, for the first time, that life is an adventure and there exists awe wonder at ever turn if you purposely choose to see it. Dig down deep into life, climb up tall mountains, baby boy. Persevere. And see where this next year takes you.