Friday, November 14, 2008

Sweet 16 - Sweet, but hard

Edited to add: I thought it fitting to use this for my Wordfull Wednesday post (more entries at Chocolate on my Cranium) because even though it's hard, it's also amazing to be Ty's mother.

Tyler's 16th birthday came and went last week without the usual accompanying 'Sweet 16' celebration. In fact, I hate admitting this, I didn't even wish him a Happy Birthday on his birthday. (I know! What is wrong with me?) Ever since I filled in the dates on the fridge calendar last month I have been thinking about it, so it's not that it hasn't been on my mind - it has. Oh, how it has.

I remember when we first started taking him to Early Intervention-speech, physical and occupational therapies-he was 6 months old. A case worker brought a video for us to watch entitled, Mourning the Loss of your Dream. She expected us to break down and sob, let it all out so we could "move on."

It's strange, but at that time we felt no real sense of loss for the life he might have had if he'd never had his shots at 2 months resulting in a life-altering brain injury. Instead, we had a strong feeling that he would lead us on a journey of much growth and love. And oh, how he has.

However, that sense of loss has snuck in like a stranger in the night a few times since then:

when the neighbor's baby started walking
and talking

when the kids in his class started being invited to birthday parties
and reading, writing and learning arithmetic

when the kids in his scout troop (the one he would've been in) started getting their Eagles
and, now, when they are driving, dating, and discovering their talents

I think about how it might have been - the friendships he'd have made, the girls he'd be crushing on (or who'd be crushing on him), the kind of big brother he'd be (definitely sweet), the miles of running and walking he'd have done by now, the sports he'd have loved to play, the food he'd be devouring during his teenage growth spurts, and yes, even the musical instruments he might have taken up.

On milestone birthdays, these thoughts and dreams raise their heads and give me pause. I am sad for him and also, selfishly, sad for me. Sad that the only conversations we have are the ones in my mind or with our eyes, sad that he cannot (right now) have the dreams in my heart for him or become independent and have these same dreams for his own future children.

I let myself mourn what might have been and then, carefully, I tuck those dreams back into their treasure box to store up against some far distant future where God will breathe Life into them. Then I come back to how it is, rejoicing today in the many lessons he's taught me, all the many ways in which he has stretched the corners of my soul - filling them up with love and gratitude for a life so precious.

He is my Sweet 16. Happy Birthday son!


The Barnharts said...

i can only imagine what that is like- Heavenly Father must think you are pretty awesome to give you such a unique experience. Have a good weekend!

compulsive writer said...

Such a beautiful, heartfelt post. Thanks for sharing.

And Happy Birthday, Tyler!

b. said...


Happy Birthday, Ty!

Adria said...

Beautiful, and bittersweet.

I'm grieving the loss of some of my dreams; I can only imagine how it feels for you.

Much love.

Jan said...

What an amazing post. I love the last paragraph - the fact that you let yourself mourn and then "rejoice today". I think we should think of a way to celebrate-even if it's not the "usual" sweet 16. What could we do that he would think was cool, neat, fun, whatever. Maybe we'll have to wait until he's more mobile and go bowling?? What do you think?

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Oh, C! This is beautifully written - all those moments that we who don't have a disabled child take for granted. Thank you for the honest and real post.

So said...

I surfed in here through Mormon Mommy blogs. What a beautiful, touching post.

Happy Birthday Tyler!

Lisa M. said...

This echos my mind and heart.

Thank you for sharing with us.

I could never have said it, like that.

I feel it though.

All of it.

Ty and E need to meet, though I strongly suspect they already have.

Thank you.

Wendy said...

That was a most beatifully written post. You have really gotten a good handle on "life " though. I just admire that about you.

Happy Birthday to Ty .

binders said...

You made me cry! What a wonderful, beautiful son. And bless you for finding all the good and joy on the road you didn't expect to take.

Our Peculiar Life said...

I haven't been here in awhile but thought of you today. I want to thank you for your post. It is bittersweet and touching and oh so real.

Bree Biesinger Despain said...

One of the most beautiful and sad and joyful things I've ever read. Thank you for the good cry.

Jo said...

That is beautifully written. You have put words on the feelings so many of us parents carry in our hearts.

Mommymita said...

trials are blessings and blessings can be trials

You've had it all - but better for it

Tanks for sharing both the joy and reality

kjha said...

Thank you for sharing. Thank you.

Ratliffs said...

My heart goes out to you...You must be an amazing woman to be able to tuck those hard feelings away. Great shall be your joy when you're finally able to get to know your son! Thank you for sharing!

Up in Bubbles said...

Happy Birthday Tyler we love you! Wow, corrie that made me cry. I love you and him so much. You are such a great mom and insperation to those around you. Thanks for being you. Tyler thanks for being you. So sweet.

Anonymous said...

I just caught up on what you guys were up to. I laughed and cried at the same time. I wish I didn't understand, but I do. Happy Birthday Ty!

claire said...

Same here, I got caught up in our lives and hadn't checked in with your blog for awhile, so sorry! I wish I'd kept up with the surgery and all...terrible that he (and you) had to go through it, glad he's doing better now. I cringed at the x_rays, and laughed at the shower/bed comments. AGREED!
Happy birthday Tyler, we're hoping for a huge party in the next life filled with all those things our kids aren't doing now, right?!
We love you both, and love that you let us share this journey or joy and grief with you.

Mel said...

Beautiful post!

Roblynn and Rebekah said...

Thank you for your blog, I love your writing and what is the music love it? I am sorry for what you have suffered because of vaccinations.