I was looking for pictures of my dad last night (because he's the employee of the year at his hotel and needed a picture of himself for their awards ceremony) and I came across the sweetest picture of Benjamin at the butterfly house (at the Museum of Life and Science). I shared it with him because it's just such a sweet little smile (he was the cutest little guy) and then I realized that today was World Prematurity Day, so together we came up with this little image of him to share on Facebook:
He had a rocky start, one that it's possible either one of us will every quite recover from. For me, at least, the pain of only being able to be with him for two "cares" every day (so perhaps an hour, max) is a trauma that still gnaws at my heart. That was such a hard thing!
A cruel thing, really.
But look at us!
We did that hard thing.
And when Benjamin came home needing extra vigilant care, and when we moved across the country with him still so tiny, and when he had his (honestly relatively minor) continued health problems...
We did those hard things, too!
Looking back at the hard things doesn't make having gone through them any easier, but remembering hard times, I think, can help us remember that we're strong, that we can do hard things, and that hard things often do resolve.
And I guess by "resolve" I mean that you learn to live with the situation.
Somehow you just do what needs to be done to survive.
You pump milk for the baby you can't hold.
You build a ramp for your broken-bodied husband.
You put your mother in the earth, then walk
upon the ground beneath which she's turning
to dust. You do it all, because you must.
I don't know that it gets easier.
Like, when I look back at hard times in my life, I still feel like those times were hard—even the memory of those things is hard—so I don't know that it gets easier. It simply becomes part of the fabric of who you are, part of the warp, the weft, the weave that makes you strong. Grief and pain come with you, trailing along through the years, through many passes of the shuttle.
But I think, from my experience, that once I've woven together the bits and pieces of joy and pain that make up my life, and hold up the fabric to inspect it...the grief isn't so noticeable and I thought it might be. It's there, it's important—even sacred—but it's just part of the cloth (which is made up of so many other strands).
So, anyway, that was just a little ramble about Benjamin, my sweet preemie, who is ten years stronger, and about Karen, who we've been practicing living without for four years now, and about all the hard things I've done and am doing.
Oh, and about my sweet sister, Kelli, too, who is doing hard things right now. I mean, Allen is also doing hard things, no doubt about that. But Kelli is dealing with a lot, a lot, a lot supporting him through his recovery. And she's incredible.
So lots of thoughts and feelings that I don't quite know how to put into words.