My apologies for falling off the blog grid lately! August is the month of many birthdays in my life, including N’s, and we get caught up in the end-of-summer insanity around here. August is also the month that I begin the seasons-long grieving for everything that summer represents. I adore the lazy afternoons at the pool, watching my boys splash around and enjoy the sun. I welcome the break from the school-year routine of hurried mornings and scheduled classes, and I try not to plan anything other than vacations and picnics from May to September. Then, the first of August comes as a harsh reminder that the countdown to fall has become.
August also brought birthdays – reminders of the years that have passed so quickly since N came into my life, the years that have passed since my birth as a mother. And August came to a close by reminding me not how quickly summer had ended, but how indescribably lucky I am to have healthy children whose greatest traumas have been a few stitches and some bumps on the head.
For a bit of background: I am the oldest of five girls in my family. I have one biological sister and three sisters adopted from Guatemala. My littler sisters are 11, 12, and 12, and have been through more shit than most adults, let alone little children, could endure. But they have endured, amazingly, and they continue to do so. The littlest, E, was born with small, hard kidneys that would not survive childhood. When E was adopted a year and a half ago, she brought with her memories of being abandoned in a Guatemalan hospital, living in weakness at an orphanage with not one person to come visit her, and a body that was giving up. Through diet, medicine, and nightly dialysis, E grew stronger and bigger, surpassing everyone’s expectations as she mastered English quickly and spread her warm vitality wherever she went.
The day of N’s birthday party, E came down with a fever. The next day, she went to Children’s Hospital, where she would unexpectedly stay for two weeks, and where an infection would whittle away her tiny body. During her stay, I visited twice, and gained a perspective that I have never had.
I’ve always been grateful that my kids are healthy, as all mothers are, but with a blindness of never knowing otherwise. . Visiting E the day after she was admitted, I walked past the room next to hers. A toddler – one that resembled Baby K in so many ways – was literally climbing the bed to get away from a nurse. “No, it too owie!” He cried. “It too owie!” He screamed, frantically kicking away from his mother and anyone else who tried to touch him, as I stood staring in the hall with tears in my eyes.
The sight of that baby, so much like mine, coupled with witnessing the intense stress of critical illness on E and my parents, has really brought it all to my heart. Given me a perspective of opened eyes. It could so easily be my husband and me, sitting with a crying, terrified child being poked and traumatized. But it wasn’t – my babies get colds and stomach bugs and stitches. They scrape knees and get fevers and keep going. I pray every. single. night that this will continue to be the story of our lives. And that this story will come to a close with a new kidney and a healing for E, in all the ways she needs.