Yesterday was my little "Bear's" 7th birthday...
I spent the morning rushing around to get all the odds and ends to make his day super special. I kept thinking about "just one more thing", because I wanted to make sure it was a real par-TAY! He's my baby...my seven year old baby. The big brother who never got to be a big brother. My baby.
I kept rushing around trying not to think about all he has gone through in the past 3 years. But...it's there. Always there.
Three years ago my little Bear turned five. Such a big boy...we had a huge pirate party, complete with treasure hunt, pirate flags, treasure chest and an authentic looking map that I had designed with canvass, tea, coffee, and meticulous burn marks that mapped our entire domain. I had labeled my eldest son's room as "The dwelling of the Kracken..." In my defense...he was going through a difficult...uh....life. I can't say it was a phase, because he was always the way he was. That goes along with being bi-polar. We were just starting to realize the fact that he was dealing with more than "normal boy behavior." Or rather...his therapists were finally starting to realize it. sigh. In any case, it was not a surprise that I would have labeled his room as a dwelling of an unpredictable monster...it was just...the way it was. I have always tried to be humorous about that which was difficult. A defense mechanism. Trying to make light out of darkness. That was before I knew how much could be taken from me. From all of us.
We went through the motions of the party, laughter, fun....me in a black sun-dress...which was odd because, at the time, I never...ever...wore black. ever. My friends noticed it. I remember looking at the clock wondering why my eldest wasn't home. Thinking it was typical selfish behavior. He knew it was his brothers birthday...and yet....he wasn't home. I figured he had blown it off after work. It never crossed my mind that maybe there was another reason he was missing.
The party ended. It had been perfect...even perfect in the moments where my friends had gathered in a circle in my living room talking about Sanderson...and his absence. His gymnastics coach commented on how irradic his behavior had been lately. We talked about the likelyhood of bi-polar disorder...I remember him sighing and saying "What's it going to take to wake him up?" We all nodded...
It wasn't that he was "bad". He wasn't doing anything "bad". He was just....selfish...off kilter...mean. And...honestly, it really sucked to be around him 80% of the time. Hard for a mom to admit, but really true. I would ask to have it all back....if only....if only.....
We went on a walk after the party ended. When we returned I noticed my son's bike was still not home. I heard the phone ringing inside...
What followed was the blurry feeling of understanding that something is terribly terribly wrong. The nauseous sensation of realizing that your child is near death. That you may never talk to him again.
He lay there in the hospital with half his face scraped from the cruel pavement. No helmet. No helmet. No protection from hard pavement. No way to understand anything. Gaping wounds all over his face...all over his skull....where his brain lay bleeding within. The words "stabilized" mean little to someone who understands the critical nature of serious brain damage. They mean even less when a catatonic boy lays on a bed breathing only because a machine makes it possible.
He lay for days between life and death. Death. I looked at the brain scans over and over. Something I used to enjoy for fun...analyzing brain scans...of other people. Now...it was my son. MY son. And, his brain....didn't look the way it should have looked. Damaged. Badly.
They say I have PTSD from that event. Nightmares, hyper-vigilance...random crying.
It's been three years.
I looked up as I set up the party and wondered WHY I had thought to choose a pirate balloon as the main centerpiece. It hadn't been conscious. It was just as random as the fact that the balloon clerk had given me a purple and yellow star balloon as well to bob around in the balloon bouquet I ordered for Bears birthday.
I decorated around those balloons, suddenly noticing that there was a strong sense of de'ja vu happening. I unraveled the streamers...rainbow streamers....and I thought about the little golden haired boy that used to tell us his favorite color was "rainbow". My eldest son....so difficult...so beautiful....so....very much...HIM.
The Pirate balloon....and three years ago. We didn't have a theme this year....but there it was, just the same.
Purple and Golden Stars....WHY had she chosen those colors out of all the colors she had to choose from. But it was perfect that they were there. Sweet Simon and Alexander. You should have been here this year.
Last year, Bear's birthday was marked with tears of loss. Loss for the babies that we wanted so much...for the path that we wanted to be on instead of the one we were on. Loss of his excitement to be a big brother after being the "little bear" for so long. A silent birthday...with forced smiles. A lost birthday celebration. One in which he still didn't learn to ride a bike...he didn't even WANT to ride a bike due to the fear instilled by his oldest brothers accident. One in which, I wore the same black dress...because I could only wear black...without them. without my babies that should have been. Black.....
So, you can see why I wanted THIS year to be different...and yet...there were all these memories...such sad memories.
I made the cake, shaped like a ferret....as requested. Chocolate filled with caramel and cream frosting. perfect. Delightful....and promising to be one of the most delectable I've ever made. Bears eyes shone with joy. His cake...was perfect. Mommy was BACK.
Framed with rainbow streamers, balloons...as aforementioned...and piles of presents. Too many presents. Trying to make up for trauma. Trying to tell the little boy with the newly broken arm from a recently silly fall that life was going to be better....much much better. Happier. Safer. That not every year would have trauma. Loss. Pain. Tears.
I could hear kids on the trampoline...my Bear laughing from the outskirts. He wasn't allowed on the tramp due to his broken humerus. But, he was having fun watching the antics of the other kids. Too many kids. I knew it was too many kids....but...I didn't get out there fast enough. A little boy broke through where the springs were supposed to hold him....and was brought inside by his sister. Blood streaming everywhere. From nose...head...the corner of his eye. Head wounds bleed. a lot. They often look worse than they are...but they are also sometimes worse than they look.
A blue homeopathic kit. A red first aid kit. Flashing hands. Blood. Homeopathic Arnica and Aconite. Compresses. Gauze Pads. LOTS of gauze pads. Tea tree ointment. More homeopathics. I looked at his wide eyed mom..."Honey..do you have insurance? He needs to go to the ER. Now." I showed her the deep gaping wound on his head. She paled. More Aconite...for her. More Arnica....for him. I didn't suspect a concussion...but the wound was too big and too deep to ignore. The little boys was calming down. The homeopathy was working. More Aconite. More Arnica.
I was shaking.
Too much blood. Too similar to my own beautiful sons face...gaping wounds on pale skin. A forever scar.
The party continued. I listened as people took turns hugging me and telling me I should have been a doctor.
yeah. In another lifetime...I would have been. But now....
The children continued to play...but not on the trampoline. It's coming down. It's banned. If it's springs are aging...it's no longer safe. Even with a safety net 10 feet tall. Not safe. Our children. They are never safe. Not really.
I hugged my eldest goodbye. All grown up. I rarely see him. His scars, so small and insignificant...the reminder of the damage within...the only visable remnant of that nightmarish time three years ago. The moods are still there...but at least we know what they are now. Now that it's too late. As he waved goodbye I looked up at the rainbow streamers and thought of the little boy who loved rainbow more than any other color; I wondered where life was taking him.
Bear and I settled on the couch to look at his loot. Too many presents. Will every other birthday seem skimpy after this assortment? He seemed most happy with a green noise maker that emits various cartoon sounds upon pressing a button. He especially enjoyed the sound of something falling with a pronounced "splat" sound giggling each time it was pressed.
I asked him if he'd had a good birthday. "Yeah...but it seems like my birthdays are kinda dramatic lately."
Oh baby....they really have been. It seems like life in general has been pretty dramatic lately.
If only I could change that. Put in an order for less drama....that's what I want. less drama. less trauma. less...blood.
In all honesty...I'd like a bit of boredom. I'm just fine with the idea of abundance, joy, and laughter being what my life is made of...I don't feel guilty for wanting the remainder of my existence to be happy...but I know that life just isn't like that. At least...I don't think it is.
Somehow, I doubt boredom is in the cards for us. It seems like something is always stirring the pot. Making us stronger? weaker? stronger? weaker?
Whatever it is doing, one thing is certain. We live in interesting times. This is a day many say they will never forget. Sept. 11th. A day to remember as if other losses on other days are less significant. For me...it is a lifetime to remember for a multitude of reasons. I put on that black dress today. One of many that I wear often. Black soothes me...reminds me that it's o.k. to mourn loss in life. So many losses. So many tears.
I will never forget.