It’s that time of year, a time to thank God for another year, to celebrate BJ’s birthday and celebrate how far he’s come. I’ve been trying for the past couple of weeks to figure out why I’ve been feeling so…off. Not sad not happy just a little off kilter. And yesterday I figured it out, BJ’s birthday will be here in less than a month. Each year little by little it gets better… but I’ve yet to make it through a birthday without tears. Of course I know that it’s a happy occasion, of course I know that I should be cheering instead of crying but my heart doesn’t quite speak the same language that my mind does. The past two birthdays have found me sitting in my closet at some point during the day of or the night before going through my NICU bag and reliving the days when I spoke about BJ’s future using the words “if” and “hopefully.” I write BJ’s birthday letter every year and put it in his book of letters and I can’t help myself but sit in the closet for an hour reading the daily letters I wrote BJ while he was in the NICU starting at the first letter that began with “My dearest BJ, this is mommy,” and the last NICU letter that told him that he was finally coming home.
Am I putting myself through some form of self-torture? No. As a matter of fact I feel like it’s quite the opposite. This is a part of MY healing. It’s a part of my personal birthday celebration to him. Because after the tears, the journaling, the folding of the outfits that are so teeny tiny and the pictures of my precious son so sick and frail I’m able to put away those mementoes, wipe my face and go give my little boy a hug. It’s a hug that most parents will never give their children because it’s a hug of sincere joy and gratitude it’s a hug that realizes what almost wasn’t.
You see, the phrase “you never miss a good thing unless it’s gone” should coincide with “you never appreciate what you have until you’ve come close to losing it.” While my journal was something that I used as an outlet for the stress I was going through, it was also a way for me to talk to BJ and tell him how I was feeling. Some of my letters begin telling him about his day and end in an almost prayer/plea for him to please make it home to me.
I’m not sure how long I’ll meet his birthdays with such mixed feelings. I’m not sure how long it will take me to fully heal from what we went through. I was talking to my husband two days ago and he said he heard a church song by Tamela Mann called “Take me to the King” while driving and had to pull over to the side of the road. He said he didn’t know where it came from but all he could do was think about BJ, cry and thank God. We are a long way away from the NICU… a lot of time has passed since those days where I barely ate or slept. The days where my husband and I would crawl into bed at night, hold each other and cry. We’ve come so very far and are so very blessed… we are blessed to see a living breathing miracle every day and he continues to be a constant ray of sunshine in our lives.
But I still allow myself that day… to remember… to be grateful.