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What’s in a decade?

A decade…Ten Years….One tenth of a century….One eighth of the average lifetime.  When you say the words, or see them in print, it sounds like such a long time. There is such a distance. But then some events erase all effects of the passage of time.

Ten years ago yesterday…..I knew what day it was. Of course I knew it was *that* day.  You never, ever are allowed to forget the day your entire world/life was turned completely upside down. You never forget the day everything you’d held true was torn from you, to be replaced by a new reality, the day you learn everything you’d thought about life was not how it really goes.

I promised myself this year I would not be sucked in to the sadness and grief of all that day took away from me. I vowed I would rejoice in the distance we’ve traveled since that day.  But then you hear a song, see a face, listen to a whisper and the memories unfold. So I allowed myself an hour to go back, to relive, to feel the pain, grief, fear, worry, and sadness so that I can spend the rest of the month reveling in the miracle that unfolds right before my eyes.

Ten years ago yesterday, we started a new journey. Ten years ago, we were set upon a new path. It was not a path of my choosing. It is not a path I would ever wish on anyone. But for whatever reason, here we are. That day, I did not know where those first steps would lead. Looking back, while it hurts, I see the meaning and the purpose. I would still have it any other way than the way it was. I cannot look at my oldest child and not wish his life had a different beginning. That was not meant to be. Nothing I do now will undo what was. Nothing I say, no actions I take will erase those days, months, years of worry and work.

What is in a decade? In this decade I mark there were 16 days of hospital bedrest for me, one 2 pound baby boy born 14 weeks too soon, 93 days in a neonatal intensive care unit, a Christmas Day homecoming, follow-up care, physical therapy, synagis shots every month from October through April for two years, developmental evaluation after developmental evaluation, two other babies born to us (blessedly both full term and uncomplicated), seven months of agony deciding whether or not to start kindergarten, asthma diagnosis, more follow-ups, baseball, soccer, field trips, riding a bike without training wheels, growth spurts, vacations, homework, friends, learning to read, excellence at school, three Shining Star awards, a baseball championship, swimming, running, antagonizing his brother and sister. So much to account for. The days seem to fly by. I sometimes can hardly remember what it felt like to hold two pounds in my hands. And yet, in an instant I can be back where we started ten years ago…..in denial, but still terrified and sure that our baby was not going to survive. I can feel the pain and sadness of those days spent sitting next to him laying there in the NICU. I remember the absolute joy of finally walking out of the hospital with my son in my arms like it was yesterday.

A decade? A long time? Not when something so profoundly changes your life.

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