~~photo taken the day after surgery
Yes, amazingly, another year has passed since Joshua's surgery. I am sitting here wishing I could find a special way to commemorate this passing of time. I like to look back and realize how far he has come, how well we have all survived. There doesn't seem to be words enough or actions enough to Praise the Lord like I want to!
Looking back, I can see that there was life before the surgery, and life after. It’s an epoch. Much the same as getting married, or having a baby is a moment that you reflect on in the same manner. Life before marriage, life after marriage. Life before babies, life after babies. Nothing looks the same. It’s a different world that you live in, marked by this one specific moment.
It was like going through a tunnel. I could look back on life before we found out he needed surgery, and see the bright light of blissful ignorance, but at times it was nearly impossible to look forward and be sure that there was light up ahead of us too. I’m pretty certain the tunnel was not only dark and VERY cramped, so that you had to crawl through with “fingertips and toes” as Jake would say, like the caves we used to explore, but it was also COLLAPSIBLE. I know this because I remember the feeling of being run over by a bus.
It doesn’t hurt quite so bad to look back on the pictures. I know how the story turns out. I am no longer plagued by the fear, the what-ifs of those days. I can look at my little boy, keeping up the pace with all of the other kids, oblivious to how he is different. Because, quite honestly, at this point he really isn't. He remembers the events of that time, but not in the same way we remember them. He knows it was painful, but he has no memory of any fear. The fear was all ours. Fear comes from knowledge of what could happen, what might happen.
What a time that was. It took me a YEAR before I could meet a new mom, or find a new kid on the playground that I didn’t feel this strange compunction to tell the story to. I needed to tell the story, to find a thread of commonality between me and the other moms who have been through this. I couldn’t control it at times, even when I tried! I’d be all sitting there chatting with some mom about how old her kids were after 15 minutes of watching our kids play together and the next thing I knew I was grabbing Josh on a run-by and lifting up his shirt. I think I scared some of those poor moms and they may never have returned to the same play ground again for fear of running into me.
But I was so thankful for the moms who saw the scar and then told me the story of their own child’s walk down the path of recovery. To look into each others' eyes and nod our heads solemnly as we gave recognition of the strength it takes a mother's heart to watch her child suffer and the anguish we feel when we are helpless to fix it.
I’m much better about it now. I haven’t even told a single other parent at his school. His teachers? Yes. Of course. But I haven’t had this compulsion to tell random strangers now for several months. It’s good. It means that I’M recovering, finally, and my emotional scars are fading, too.
He doesn't remember what his voice used to sound like, before the partial paralysis of his vocal chords. He doesn't remember what exactly the difference was in how he felt before as opposed to how he feels now - to him his life was "normal" before the surgery, and is "normal" now! It is such a joy to watch him grow and thrive and just simply be a little boy. I can't describe how proud I am of him and the kind of thoughtful person he is becoming! I look forward to being able to talk to him as he gets older about his perspective on all of this.
Praise God for His healing touch, for His bountiful mercies, for the wisdom, knowledge, and compassion He gave to the nurses and doctors who helped heal Joshua's heart and give him a second chance at life.
I thought about posting the more graphic pictures, but I still just can't quite do it. They still bring tears to my eyes and it doesn't quite seem appropriate to post them on the web.
~~don't take the bandaid off!
~~my sweet little boy, almost 4 years old.
~~now almost 6! My handsome little man, an awesome big brother, thoughtful and sweet. Happy 2nd HeartDay, Josh.