September. It’s here. Cooler mornings, sometimes cooler days. Fall is around the corner. Football is starting. Baseball is getting exciting (unless, like me, your team has been out of the running since June). Kids are back in school. Although I’m sad to see summer end, I do like fall.
I was going through some photos today, looking for a good TBT to post on Facebook. I came across some photos of Big Man while still in the NICU, the day he came home, and his first birthday. I found myself sitting here with tears in my eyes, and a lump in my throat. I still don’t get why this month gets to me every single year. He’s alive, thriving, well, perfect in every teenager-driving-us-crazy way. Yet I’m haunted by everything that happened September, 2000. Seeing those photos of him, covered in tapes and wires, naked so they could see his color at all times, fighting to survive – I can’t help but be torn up by what we went through, all he survived, all we lost, for we did lose. Yes, we have our miracle, but I am forever changed and scarred by it all.
I will never look at this boy and not think about how he started life in this world. I can’t let go the images, the memories burned into my heart and brain. As September 6th creeps closer – the day that started it all – I find myself becoming more emotional, less able to respond normally to the little irritants we usually let roll over us throughout the day, impatient with myself and everyone else. The memories, sharp and stabbing, stop me in my tracks. I know I will be holding my breath until his birthday, recalling each day what was going on that time fifteen years ago.
Here’s the thing – a preemie’s survival doesn’t take away the guilt, fear, and hurt. It doesn’t erase going through something parents shouldn’t have to go through. It doesn’t take away seeing your child fight for his life day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute. It doesn’t take away any of those horrific memories.
I can tell his story very matter-of-factly these days. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I can tell it without getting emotional. But sometimes, especially during September, I can’t even think about it without feeling the need for a good cry. These days, I’m getting that huge lump in my throat just watching him walk onto his high school campus (HIGH SCHOOL!!), forget about watching him cross the finish line of his cross country race, or seeing him putt during his golf lesson.
Bear with me for the next few weeks, my friends. The memories are many, the emotions abundant. And I’ll likely bore you to tears with stories of how amazing my Big Man is. And with the words of the song that still makes me cry, “Wake me up when September ends”.