A Love Story

I can tell you the exact moment that I fell in love with my son.

It was two days after his first Christmas, and I peeked in on him before crawling into bed. He was lying there, asleep on his belly, just like he had every night since the day we brought him home from the NICU at 5 weeks old, 7 months prior. I smiled and thought to myself “I love him so much”, as chills ran over my skin. It was completely involuntary and totally in spite of myself.

Before that moment, I had never felt joy in the presence of Gabriel… only sadness, anger, fear, and grief. I had held him so many times, my body wracked with sobs as I begged for God to take him home. To free Gabe from his body and us from a future burdened with caring for a profoundly disabled child. So many factors played in to my inability to bond with Gabe… to LOVE Gabe. The times we had said goodbye in anticipation of loosing him in the NICU, the weeks without being able to hold him, feeding him through a tube instead of putting him to my breast, months without a smile or any sign of him knowing us… the overwhelming sense of him being broken. And I was broken too. He had broken me, and I him.

It is a foreign place to be; A world where you wish death upon your own child. But I lived there… for eight long months. Now, back among the land of the living, I feel no guilt over that province I once inhabited. Grief is a strange and complicated thing, making us feel and wish and pray for things that seem unimaginable until you have lived it. My eyes have been opened, and I understand pain, raw and dark and deep, in a way I never have before. For months, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Only now, as I find myself in a place where my weary soul is finally finding rest, am I able to catch my breath.

Early in this journey, a special needs mom entered my life at the exact moment that I needed her. Having navigated the same turbulent waters, she offered me a platitude that has continued to resonate with me since the moment it reached my ears:

“For a long time, you will feel like you are drowning. It will be dark and the waves will crash around you as you struggle to keep your head above water. You will grow wearier and wearier, until you are certain you can no longer keep yourself afloat. Then, at that exact moment when you have surrendered, when you have taken that last gulp of air and sunken beneath the surface, succumbing to the ocean trying desperately to swallow you whole…. you will feel the land beneath your feet.”

I am so thankful to say that I have found the shore. The waves are still crashing…. but the sand is warm, and the sun is peaking over the horizon.


6 Responses to “A Love Story”

  1. Shannon andrews says:

    Your story is so so touching. I’d written to ask where you’ve been. Thank you for your reply so now I can follow you on your new journey. Prayers for you and your family.

  2. Andrea says:

    Your words take me back seven years ago exactly today when our journey began. Can’t say that I’m exactly dry-eyed after reading but cettainly know that feeling of finding the sand under you. I am so blessed to have met the four of you!

  3. Jeanine Nagy says:

    I am so happy that you are no longer living in the place. I look forward to following your blog, and wish you all of the strength and love you need to continue on this journey of motherhood, please reach out if you even need any support, as I am not in the same position, but am here to always listen. Sending prayers to you and your family.

  4. Connie Fuller says:

    This is just so beautifully written and so heartfelt.
    I am touched by the grace with which you have accepted this “gift” from God.
    May peace and love be with you and your family always.

  5. Your story touched my heart! I don’t know how you were able to find the words! I will keep praying for you to see the sun! Keep shining!

  6. Mary Ann says:

    Your uncle married us, baptized our daughter, and was there for her First Holy Communion. You have a faith base that others wish they had! We feel truly blessed to have him in our life!

    He shared this on FB. I have read and listened to a lot of people that are suffering, but yours was truly one of the best love stories I’ve read. Yes, best….love is not easy, and you discovered that. You have revealed your rawest feelings for all to see. Thank you for sharing.

    As a teacher for students with special abilities, I want to offer you a sign of hope. I teach employment skills and students run a business on campus. There is hope…. You can always contact me through your uncle too! God Bless!

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