Thankful to Double dip in 2020
Thanksgiving is a special time of year. Not only is it a time to spend with family, sacrifice turkeys, and personal pie-eating contests, it represents the birth of my greatest achievement. Well a few days earlier, but close enough. As I reflect on my little hell-raiser turning 18, I can't help feel both extremely proud and completely heartbroken.
I'll apologize now for wandering into the too personal and real section of my brain...
Part of the reason I think this is hard on birthday #18 is because we've watched his birthdays lose that magical quality that he always embraced in his earlier years. He was a big fan of his birthday, not because it was a celebration on him but because he used it as a way to celebrate his friends and family. He loved sharing the day with people. To witness that slip away...
My son has been diagnosed with Crohn's, Colitis, POTS, and hyper-mobility. We've been to several experts within Cooks' Children and the Mayo Clinic and while they all agree he suffers from all these physical ailments, no one has been able to offer a viable treatment plan. Since around the age of 11, we've faced an uphill battle that each year seems to have increased in difficulty. And with each year, this physical battle has taken a toll on him mentally and emotionally. - I'd be lying if I didn't say on his mom and me as well.
And so I find myself at this amazing time in my child's life. A moment that should be filled with joy and happiness, shared with family and friends as we race towards the next exciting chapter of his -and collectively ours- adventure, but instead we knew would be anything but. Our expectation could be nothing but another day of pain, exhaustion, anger, and disillusion. Made glaringly so since his treatment day fell on the day after his birthday. - which means there's a good chance he has nothing left in his system helping.
For my son it's all that and a day of exasperation as he has just enough energy to get up but not near enough to put up with his parents trying their hardest to balance this "every day" with his special day. And yet I'm proud of the boy as he got up on his birthday, slapped on a smile for as long as he could muster, and participated in the little bit his mother and I put together.
When he sees people outside of the house, he doesn't want them to worry or to think of him as the "sick" guy and all his energy goes to putting on a show. - for them as well as to trick himself so he doesn't accidentally let others see his true struggle - Unfortunately this year, he hasn't had the energy to pull that off very often and it's not something he does at the house. - we get it real and uncensored as it should be.
2020 has done a lot to try and crush my spirit but little did it know I've had years of accumulated scar tissue to build up my tolerance to such attempts. Instead I'm looking towards 2021, hoping for some real answers and a step in the positive direction as my baby boy dives into that next chapter.
That said, I don't have the energy or the desire to slap together a funny or entertaining story right now so instead, I want to share what I wrote last year on his birthday. It's a good story about the thing I'm most proud of in my life, my son Hunter...
From 2019 -
Today is a special day. It's the anniversary of one of the greatest things to happen to me, the birth of my son. I better throw in my wedding day in case the wife is reading this…and I was at the 49er vs. Cowboy game when T.O. took the star...so a top-three event at worst.
Any way you slice it, November 18th is one of those life-changing events. This is the 17th such celebration and I wonder where the time went. It seems like yesterday that I watched my pregnant wife walk up a steep flight of stairs at the movie theater, so we could see a movie before the little bugger showed up. And as she stared daggers at me as our friend asked why she didn't use the elevator, I thought this is nice, and immediately tried to use popcorn as a distraction.
*Author's note — when we went to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets days before the baby's scheduled inducing, we used the elevator.
We eventually had to schedule the day the baby was coming out as the little bugger was dug in and didn't want to leave. It was turning into a Pacific Heights situation, and we wanted to get ahead of it before he released the roaches or tore up the floors. So November 18th, we were prepared to send in a swat team and evict the boy.
Now he had other ideas. He had everything he needed and wasn't ready to leave. So after hours of labor and nothing happening, the Doctor decided we needed to pivot to a c-section. And we were rushed into an operating room. Now if you know anything about this type of stuff you may be aware that once they give you the meds to dull everything, they can't turn around and give you anything else...like the medicine you might normally get in a scheduled c-section...or none of what I just typed is true, and we just fell for it. Maybe they wanted to introduce us to parenthood; here you need to experience this all at the same time - worried, scared, excited, no control, and feel everything while being completely numb to it all.
I spent the whole time in delivery trying not to see anything and wishing for the old days when the guys just sat in the waiting room, and now I was standing in an operating room with a sheet the only thing stopping me from seeing the insides of my wife. So I did the only thing I could, I focused on her face and tried to be what she needed; no more funny guy, I needed to focus on being strong, soothing, comforting, and most importantly I needed to make sure not to puke on her head, pass out, or run screaming from the room. I'd be lying to say it wasn't one of the scariest moments because although my wife was numb from the initial shot; she could still feel what they were doing. If I was a better writer or if I braved a peek behind the curtain, I might be able to provide a wittier description but I didn't need to see anything but my wife's face and her tears to know how it was affecting her. While I thought the hours of non-productive labor took forever, that few minutes of surgery seemed an eon. By the time they had my son out and the wife sealed up, I felt like I had run a hundred marathons, and I had just been standing there.
They pushed me out of the room, wheeled the wife away, and I shocked my mother-in-law by hugging her and letting all the pent-up fear and excitement out. *Author's note — But not too long, I followed the guy code of immediately forcing all emotion and feelings back down after the allotted time allowed.
They came and got me, so I could walk into the "baby" room with Hunter. They announced his name and weight as we entered: Hunter, 9 lbs 11 oz. The other dad's in the room stared at me in horror. They all had little dainty girls, not giant monster babies. The fathers moved, so they were between my giant baby and their little princess, resigned to the fact they may have to sacrifice themselves to protect their young in case Hunter became hungry. Of course, I thought he was the most beautiful baby boy ever. *Author's note — looking back at pictures, I have to wonder if they released some sort of hallucinatory gas into the room since he sorta looked like an overstuffed sausage.
Funny, there must be another one of those gas leaks because he’s 17 -now 18- and he’s still the most beautiful boy…a little bigger, way too smart with a quick wit and quicker mouth. Fathers aren’t as quick to slip between him and their princesses since he’s no longer monster-sized.
They say the Lord will only give you what you can handle. I assume at any moment we will find out our son can fly or pick up a truck because he has to be one of the strongest people I know. The Lord sure knew what I could handle, and he delivered on November 18th, 2002. He gave me the greatest gift I would ever receive, my son.