I still remember every single second of the day that you were born. Every. Single. Second. I relive it every year. PTSD and mom pride all wrapped into one.
I remember all 6 of your birthdays. The very best days of my life. I remember your laughing. You blowing raspberries happily as you read a new book or played with a new matchbox car that you received for your birthday. I remember the way you felt in my lap as you played with those toys. I remember being so happy. So very, very happy. A house full of family and friends, celebrating YOU. That you were here another year. Our families were so close then. All the kids so little. Even though we'd been through a lot already at the time with all your medical issues, we were so very naive of how horrific life could be. We still had you. We still believed that nothing truly awful could happen. We were blissfully unaware that you'd only have 6 birthdays.
You've been visiting my dreams lately. When I'm completely overwhelmed with the charity work or when I was going through divorce court with your ex-step-dad or when I just got tired and selfish and angry that life hasn't turned out exactly how I had planned... growing old watching you grow up with a house full of siblings and then watching you go to college, marry, making me a grandmother. I'm not bitter, I embrace that that wasn't the life we were supposed to have. I understand your purpose. And mine. I accept that. I work hard to fulfill your mission. But I'm human. I have good days and bad. And you've let me know several times this year that you are here with me.
Today, I heard you. I'm in Texas at a conference, holed up in my hotel room sick instead of seeing other CDH families today. No sleep after being kept awake by groups of dancers/cheerleaders at 1:00 am in the hotel. A bit cranky. Happily single but frustrated with dating. As usual, your birthday and angelversary weed out the weak guys. Sitting at breakfast and annoyed that the guy I currently have a crush on hasn't acknowledged your birthday. Hasn't said a word to me. Hasn't shown any hint that he actually cares about me, or you. And another one bites the dust. Was expecting better from him. Just a text of "thinking of you today" is not too much to ask, right? I go through this every single birthday and angelversary. Because I want the man I'm dating to respect your memory. As he should. So years of this nonsense... 3 years of dismissing guys who lack empathy... annoyed. You'd be 25 years old this year... it's hard. I do want to curl up in someone's arms and cry. I'm your mom. This day hurts. Your memory has always been the ruler by which I measure a man's character. No one has measured up so far. Not even close. How sad is it that the absolute lowest standard of just a comment, a kind word, an acknowledgment... is too much for most. No man but your dad will ever truly understand, I get that. But kindness in the world is so hard to find now. The world is so much harsher now than when you were here in it. Maybe it's because the world is harsher... or maybe because I'm more awake to it without you.
So I'm eating breakfast and wallowing in self-pity and missing you and annoyed at this guy and annoyed that this guy is even a thought when today should be about YOU. Then.... clear as day, I heard a young man's voice say "Mom, you deserve better". As if you were sitting beside me. I'm completely alone. It could not have been some guy passing by. No one is here but me. And you.
It's not about dating. It's not about guys. You are here with me. You are always with me. You keep reminding me of that. And God, how I needed reminding of that today. Thank you. And you are right. I deserve better.
I often wonder what type of man you'd grow up to be. I think now I know.
Thank you, Shane. I love you, more than life itself, until the last breath in my body and then beyond. Happy Birthday, my son. You still make me proud. You have always been, and continue to be, the love of my life.