To my son,
One week ago today, I dropped you off to primary school for the first time to start Kindy. Your teachers gave me a package with tissues and a beautiful poem about letting go of you after five years of being together.
The fact is, I have shared the caring of you with many other adults over the last five years of your life. Although I did not cry when you started school last week, I did the day I dropped you off at day care for the first time when you were just shy of six months old. Little did I know there were many more tears to come in the weeks to follow. Soon, I really did have to confront how I might let you go.
Almost exactly 5 years ago we attended your day care orientation. You were only to be there a few hours as a practice, I was preparing to go back to work the following week. You had barely left my side since the day you were born (more than two weeks early, only 45 minutes after I realised you were coming!). I was still feeding you, and so our bond was tight, both physically and emotionally. After I settled you in, I went back to the car and cried for a few minutes. I didn’t want to leave you behind – perhaps I was having an intuition something wasn’t right. As the weekend rolled on, you were becoming unwell with some kind of virus. You were checked out by a local 24 Medical Surgery. By the following Monday, I was interviewing for a Nanny on the days we couldn’t get you into daycare and your dad had agreed to stay at home to look after you – even when you were well, at this age you were a full on load! Wiggly and often calling out to be fed!
But something happened that day as I interviewed for a nanny – the constant noise that you made in the background wasn’t there. During a break in interviews I looked at you and I knew something wasn’t right. There was no crying, you weren’t hungry and you were limp. I decided to take you to our family doctor that afternoon, who sent us to the local hospital, who sent us to the intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital and put you in an isolated room. The doctors said you probably had viral meningitis meaning your brain was swelling. We were told you would probably be OK, but there was no guarantee. We would just need to wait it out.
Your Dad and I slept there with you, in the hospital, as you were watched over by the doctors and nurses. Over the first few days you became still quieter and quieter until you slept all day and night. You had a nurse watching you at all times and they came and went as the shifts ticked over. A few days in, one nurse looked at me worried. She said, “Your son is not getting better. He is worse than when I saw him a day or so ago. I need to tell the doctor.”
We didn’t see the doctor that day and as we laid in our hospital bed that night, your father and I confronted the possibility that you may not come back to us. At this time, I was helpless and afraid. Neither your dad or I are religious, but we prayed that night – out loud- that you would live. And of course, I cried.
The next day they sent in the social worker and your doctor, who reaffirmed he believed you would pull through. Over the next few days you awoke and started playing with the cords that were keeping you alive. You were able to come home a week later.
When we left the hospital we were given mixed messages about how you would fare – the most experienced doctor said we should “forget this ever happened”. His understudy said that we couldn’t be sure if you would make a full recovery.
For the last five years I have watched you grow, cautiously, and questioned every developmental milestone- which you have hit out of the park. You are beautifully made, and flourished into a gorgeous boy. You have grown to be inquisitive, charasmatic, smart and energetic. Thank god you are here and ready for this next phase in your life.
So my darling, you had your chance to leave us and you chose to stay. You must have something important to do. It is time for you to start your journey to show us what that is. I am in awe of you and overjoyed to watch you learn, make friends (and, I expect, have fights with them too!).
It may not be your thing, but I hope you learn to pray while you are here in case you need to one day. I have cried my tears for you – what is left is hope and anticipation for what lies ahead. Don’t ever forget how lucky we are.