Tonight, as I bathed Oliver for the last time at home before his surgery, I marveled at where our story has taken us. The irony of this journey is that it has molded me into a warrior. I have become accustomed to the many battles. But it has also cracked my heart open wide, exposing its vulnerabilities to a life full of twists and turns, uncertainty, trust and surrender.
As I stood there, lathering up my son with prescription grade antiseptic wash in preparation for the most invasive procedure of his life, I soaked in the details of this strange and peaceful moment. The steam, the sweet smile on his face, the smell of this product that would sterilize his skin… such an interesting existence, this one.
For anyone on earth, life could end in an instant. But although we are cognizant of this fact, most of us don’t walk around thinking about the potential of our final breaths as we go about our days. When your medically fragile child has a major surgery ahead, though, it really does amplify the awareness of life’s tenuous nature.
While I know the risks of Oliver’s surgery are relatively low, there is still a part of my mind reserved for the worst case scenario.
It’s easy to say, “Don’t worry. It’s going to be fine.” And in all probability, it will. But for the parent who’s handing over their child to the surgeon, none of it feels fine at all. No matter how small the risks, I still feel fear. Feel uneasy. Feel doubt in our decision despite the knowing of my mind.
Just as I’ve learned to walk hand in hand with my grief, I must now learn to hold space for all these feelings so as not to be derailed by them completely.
This last week, I’ve dealt with this mixture of complex emotions by enjoying each moment I have with Oliver before his surgery. This week, I have been hyper-aware of his spirit, the smell of his skin, his smiles. I’ve read him extra books, given a few more kisses and taken more pictures than usual. Because it feels like this surgery is big. It feels like it has the potential to change everything in an instant, just like his birth changed the course of our lives forever.
Should anything go awry during his surgery, (not that I expect it to), I will seek comfort in knowing that in these last few days, we fully and presently lived each moment as if it were the last. And after all, isn’t that the goal?
I am thankful for this week. I am thankful for this journey that continues to force me to the depths of my soul and beyond, revealing to me, layer by layer, wisdom of this world. The awareness of life’s fragility is a great and powerful gift. It helps us to get closer to fully living in each moment… not taking a single one, even the difficult ones, for granted.