The most beautiful, warm day fell on the 27th of January, eight years ago. It was a Sunday. And on that very day, I held you in my arms for the first time. My baby boy.
I watch you at night, William, while you sleep. And in seconds, it seems, your life swirls through my heart, I can feel it. Some things I recall leave me in pain, as though I have been kicked in the stomach. And I am reminded of how very lucky we have been…this little family of ours…to have you still, William. I remember things that take my breath away and I swell with pride that you are my boy. And all of those little, quiet moments in between…I remember those, too.
I especially remember the way you made your presence known to the world, screaming. And kicking. And not at all thrilled with the bright lights.
And 7:00pm, every night when you were an infant. You would scream. The Man would put you in the snuggly and vacuum until you had screamed enough. Then I would feed you. And you would sleep. Soundly. In my arms. Until I put you in your bed. At which time you would wake up.
I remember the first time I heard you laugh. I mean really laugh. We had a lot of snow that day. You were too young to walk in it. And when you tried to crawl, the snow got stuck between your mittens and your coat, and your wrists turned pink with cold. So you sat in the snow, bundled in your snowsuit, watching Coco catch snowballs. And you laughed.
I remember beautiful, beautiful, warm sunshine. Picking dandelions. You, in your white shoes and your Easter seersucker shortalls. Throwing helicopters into the creek from the old wooden bridge. How the sun made your hair glisten. And how you devoured the cadbury creme eggs.
I remember the day, two days later. The day your life took a different turn. It, too, was a beautiful, warm spring day.
I remember the moment you fell. Collapsed. Screaming. Frightened.
I remember the moment I heard the word “stroke” from the doctors. And how they said the dead tissue would be “reabsorbed.” And how I couldn’t get that. And how I still don’t get that.
For days you were limp. Scared. Hungry. Sad. And then you smiled, one day. I won’t ever forget that. Or how many eggs you ate once the doctors finally let you eat.
I remember how relaxed you were on the way home from the hospital. How happy you were. And how it broke my heart that at such a young age, you were at the precipice. This would be the battle of your life.
I remember how sad you looked…how your smile looked…how scared you were of everyone.
I remember starting over. Learning to roll over again…learning to sit, to stand, to feed yourself. I remember holding your right hand, so that you were forced to eat with your left. And worrying about the heightened risk of choking.
I remember the first step you took after your stroke.
I remember how you would tickle your nose with your blanket tags before you went to sleep at night.
And the precious way you would wrinkle your nose when you smiled or asked a question.
And how you would follow your big sister around. All day long. And how she was your hero.
I remember “Jingle bells, jingle bells…how it goes?”
And Rum pa pum.
I remember how nervous you were to climb the rope to the ceiling in tae kwon do. I think you were four years old then…and you really didn’t want to do that. Until I promised you an ice cream sundae. And then you did it William. You did it.
I see you, in the small hours of the night, when the house is quiet. I see all of the things that make you.
I see your intensity. You remind me of me.
I see you run. See every muscle, the syncronicity, the beautiful way every cell in your little body works together.
I see your bedhead. You have the most wonderful bedhead, William. Seriously. I did not appreciate the bedhead of little boys until I had you.
I see a little boy that I am not sure I will be able to continue to feed at the rate he is currently eating.
I see in you a boy that will most surely be an athlete, in spite of the physical struggles you have had. You have it in you. You are talented, William.
I see a boy who needs closeness, who needs confirmation. One who still, to this very day, says these words before sleeping…I love you night-night. Sit in the chair up here, the one by the window, I love you night-night. Yes, you still say it, every night. And still I smile, every time.
I see your tenderness. Your frustration. Your desire to please. Your athleticism. Your competitive nature. You William.