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You Don’t Know, Until You Know

I’ve told Big Man’s story a million times. I can generally get it out without getting emotional anymore. But sometimes, you don’t know what’s going to break you, until it breaks  you. And then there you are, voice breaking, tears forming, struggling to keep going with the telling. And you wonder what it was about that one thing, that one telling, nearly fifteen years later, that made you fall apart.

We had our tenth annual fundraiser this past Saturday night. I always take a few minutes to talk about why we’re here, why we’re doing this. Sometimes, I show his video, but mostly I talk. I do make it a point to try and make someone listening cry. But it’s been awhile since I fell apart. Not long into the night, Big Man had dressed up, and walked out the door to go to his eighth grade dinner dance. We have eight days until he graduates, and then high school becomes a reality. Maybe that pushed my emotions. Whatever it was, as I was talking, I fell apart. I told his story, spoke of the fear and guilt, what we went through, and then how he came home on Christmas Day. And I was fine. But when I said, “Tonight, he is dancing with his friends, celebrating a significant milestone in his young life,” and I broke.

He’s here. He shouldn’t be. There’s every reason for him not to be here. But he’s here. And sometimes that’s overwhelming. Oh believe me, I wouldn’t have it any other way. But some days the magnitude of what we survived, the miracle he is takes my breath away. I think I’m more emotional because we are so close to a big milestone in his life, and so close to him taking his first steps on the way to the rest of his life. In a couple of months,  he will start high school. In a little over a year, he will be able to get his driver’s license. I know just how quickly the high school years will pass. I’m watching my sister as her oldest graduates from high school tomorrow, thinking I can’t even imagine what that’s like, but the crazy thing is, we’re closer to it than not. And that teeny, tiny baby I just wanted to keep breathing will too soon be grown up, leave home, and begin his own life.

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