Monday, June 25, 2007

A letter I will never send

I was skimming through one of the featured communities this evening (dear_you) and found the concept rather interesting. To whom would I write such a letter? My ex-husband? My friend Billy who died at age 38 in 1995? My former students? A teacher from my past? Maybe. Maybe not.

I know.

My son.

Dear Cameron,

We wanted you so much. We had to pay a lot of money to make you happen. The first time I thought I was going to have a baby, I was wrong. That was so disappointing. But then, just a month later, it turned out to be positive news! All that time, I thought about you constantly. What did you look like? Would you like the same things I like? What would your voice sound like? When would you understand that I was your Mommy and that Daddy was your Daddy?

And then . . . we weren't even ready yet! You came so soon. I had only just finished up at work, had only just written a letter to my fifth graders on the board, telling them to be good for the sub. And I started to feel really uncomfortable. Early the next morning, after a long night of trying to get you to come out the regular way, they told me I would need an operation. Less than two hours later, I got a brief glimpse of you before they whisked you off to a special room to make sure you were okay. You were three and a half weeks early, after all. They made Daddy sit in a wheelchair and rolled him out of where we first met you. He followed you down to the special room. It was a long time before I got to see you again.

That night, the nurse brought a wheelchair for me. I was still wondering what you looked like. I was still trying to imagine how big you might be. Or how small. It hurt more than anything I have ever felt to get out of the bed and into that wheelchair. The nurse tried to talk me out of it, to get me to go back into the bed. I looked at her and yelled, with tears in my eyes, "It's been eight hours since I had him, and I haven't even held my son!" The next thing I knew, I was being wheeled down the hall to where you lay waiting. Were you waiting?

When I saw you, it took my breath away. You were small. And there were all these tubes and wires and machines. You were in a kind of dome thing. Four or five different machines were making noises telling the doctors about your breathing, your heart, your pulse. Every twitch another beep. Sometimes you forgot to breathe. I was so scared. I was even afraid to move you or touch you. They carefully moved enough things out of the way so that you could come out from under your dome. I didn't even know how to hold a baby. They handed you over to me. I sat in the rocker and looked at you. Machines beeped, and sometimes their alarms sounded. Sometimes it was not a big deal. Sometimes I had to rub you and tell you to breathe. It was only later that I would notice the other babies in there. Most of them were even smaller and earlier than you were. A nurse used Daddy's camera to take pictures of us with you. Daddy took some more of you in your little bed in the hospital. Now, when you see them in your little picture book, you tell me, "He's inna hop-sit-al. He gonna go home soon."

It wasn't soon enough. It was five days before they let me out. Eight days for you. Those were such long days. Every day, we had new hopes that you could come home. Every night we had to leave you there and come home without you. I woke up and cried at night. I called the hospital and asked about you. And I was always there in the morning to come hold you and feed you. Finally, you came home. You were still so tiny. Mr. Wes next door saw us driving home and he came by with flowers later. He was the first person to see you at home, other than Daddy and me. He said you were beautiful and amazing. He was right.

The rest is a blur. Daddy got up with you every night. He wanted me to rest, because I had to have another operation two weeks after the first one, and a week in between those I had to go to the hospital every day to see the doctor. It took me a long time to heal from the operation, but I have never regretted a thing. My scar reminds me of you. Every stitch and staple was worth it.

Now, when I look at you . . . when I talk to you, and you respond back . . . when I hold your hand as we walk around the neighborhood . . . I can't believe how amazing you are. I used to wonder what it would be like to have you hold my hand as we walked. Now, you won't let it go. And sometimes you climb up my leg and I have to pick you up when a doggy comes along. I used to wonder what your voice would sound like saying "Mommy." Now I wonder what it would sound like NOT saying "no!"

I still wonder about some things. I wonder if you will like school. I wonder if you will make friends with other kids. I wonder if I will someday have to deal with you NOT wanting hugs and kisses from your Mommy. In the meantime, I give you them every chance I get.

And when I get upset because you won't help clean up your toys . . . or when I lose my temper and get angry when you make a mess because you won't use your potty . . . I remember that helpless little baby with all the tubes and wires and machines hooked up to him. I remember praying to God that you would be all right. I remember crying as I hung up the phone after the nurses told me you were fine, but you still weren't home with me. I remember being so grateful that despite a few early setbacks, you were perfectly healthy, fine, normal, amazing, beautiful. And I remember when you were still inside my tummy, moving around a LOT when I would lie down in bed at night and wonder what you looked like. And now I can just go into your room and look at you as you sleep.

And thank God that you ARE all right.

Good night, baby.


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