My son, Andrew, was born in 1986. I was 22 years old. I was so happy to be a Mom and I knew that I would do anything and everything in my power to assure that he had a better life than I had.
He got sick the first time when he was 6 months old. He never really got well after that. He had an undiagnosed immunodeficiency. Which meant he picked up every cold or virus or infection that was going around. Including some not so common infections.
I never was able to go back to work after he was born. But I loved being a mom so staying home was ok.
At 12 months old, he had his first really big bout with pneumonia and had a really hard time recovering. Again, he never really got well. He just got better and then worse again.
When he was 2, I was driving home from church one Sunday night. Several other people were coming by for dinner after church and weren’t too far behind me. My husband had been working so he wasn’t with me. It was just my son and myself.
As we were heading home, we were in a horrible car accident. Someone pulled out in front of the car immediately in front of me, which caused a chain reaction. My car was in between two others so it was completely totaled. The front of the car was gone and the rear of the car was gone. The only thing left was our passenger areas. Thankfully, my son was fastened securely in his car seat so he was not injured.
I was injured pretty badly. I had a lot of damage to my neck, back, shoulders and chest from getting whiplash in both directions. There were two separate impacts so each gave me different injuries. I also was bruised up pretty much everywhere. I was taken to the hospital and released but had to begin intense physical therapy and wore a neck brace etc.
My first few moments in the ambulance, I remember thinking that I couldn’t be a mom to a sick little boy if I was broken. The guilt was awful. How did I let this happen? How was I so careless. Yes, I thought all those things. In those days, there was nothing I didn’t blame myself for. I was just continuing the blame that I had always known.
The pain was so intense, but I could not take pain medications and care for my son. At the time, my husband was working three jobs to for all the medical bills, medications, etc. There was no way he could help me care for our child.
Some how, some way, I managed to care for this little boy and endure two years of physical therapy. Holding him was painful. Lifting him was painful. Bathing him was painful. Everything hurt. And he was sick this entire time.
That meant caring for him as if nothing was wrong with me. Doctor appointments, hospital stays, etc.
And some how, I did it.
I was thinking tonight, as I’m driving home from having dinner with my amazing son, how strong and brave I had to be during that time. How did I do it? How was I able to get up each day and push thru?
Of course, prayer was always a big part of my life, but a lot of times, when I was in the shower and in so much pain, I would cry and ask God why this was happening to me.
What I didn’t see then, is how incredibly strong I was.
The first miracle is that we were alive. The second miracle is that I was able to care for him regardless of my physical condition. And the third miracle is that I did it with joy. I never ever resented having to care for him. I was just so grateful to be a Mom.
I started to compare that time to now. Working thru PTSD and feeling so weak at times. Many days, I have felt that it really couldn’t get any worse than this. But how quickly I lose sight of all that I have survived.
Even though at that time, it seemed everything was piled up, I found a reason to live, love and have joy.
When I first saw this picture, I thought it was so appropriate. Even though the rocks were piled up there was a bridge to get over them. I just had to elevate myself. I had to encourage myself. I had to find a way to go forward. And I did.
Now, if I can just remember this the next time I have a nightmare, or flashback, or memory that I can’t shake. If only I can remember the next time I’m in therapy and am so overwhelmed with emotions, that I can’t even speak. If only I can remember my own strength and resilience.
I have it in me. I am strong. I am a warrior. Piled up or not, I will survive. Now, If only I can remember.
Until next time – I am being MJ every day.