In the past few days, I have been traveling down memory lane and it is not because I was looking at photo albums or stalking boyfriends on Facebook. I was visiting the memory lane that was Max’s medical history. It started in the car Saturday afternoon when I was alone with Sophie driving her somewhere – probably gymnastics – and for some reason she asked a question about people having trouble eating and we got into a discussion about feeding and the feeding therapy that Max had. She remembers all of his therapy surprisingly well as most of it took place in our home, and if it didn’t, she was probably dragged along to some center or hospital somewhere nowhere near home. We talked about how babies learn to eat solid food and why Max had trouble coordinating his muscles. Soon, I found myself listing all the things that Max had trouble doing when he was a baby. I don’t mince words with Sophie because she is interested in all the medical terminology and is not at all squeamish. We remembered all the problems that started at his head and went down to his toes. And then, my tears began to flow. There was so much, so very much that he couldn’t do and I remembered the anxiety and the fear we felt everyday. Those moments are forever etched in my mind – to borrow a phrase from a recent pop song – “like a tattoo.”
She saw my tears that I unsuccessfully hid. “Why are you crying?” She asked. I replied, “I just don’t like to think about that time.” She quietly remarked, “It’s ok, it’s not like that anymore.” She was right. It isn’t like that anymore. Instantly, I realized that Sophie, even at her young age, has the same gift that my mom had. It is the ability to say the plain words, with no fluff or corniness, that shoot an arrow straight to the point, straight to the heart of what will actually make me feel better. My mom lived through those difficult early years and was called on for advice daily, even hourly. She never let me down. Her words were always so simple, but so helpful. I will choose to believe that it was Nana who rubbed off on Sophie for I know that I don’t have this skill. When called on to console, I pontificate, I lecture, I ramble on with flimsy suggestions never getting to the point, never knowing what to say. I regret this failing of mine, but can accept that it is a gift some have and some don’t. Sophie, my dear, I believe you will do great things with this gift for all the people who need you someday.
I know that at times, I remind her how hard it was for Max because I want her to realize that he had/has struggles she could never imagine. I selfishly want her to love and respect him even when he drives her crazy and nudges her to death as I selfishly want him to love her even when she slams doors in his face or screams at him to leave her alone. More likely, I remind her of our past as a way of saying, “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry for being so distracted for so many years. I’m sorry for being so stressed and short tempered. I’m sorry that at times you felt that you came second to all the therapy and doctors. There is only so much she can understand until the time, I pray, in the future, that she has children of her own. Only then, will she know the depths of my love for both of them and the heartache only a mother can feel.