He’s starting to ask questions. Our adventures to Sick Kids aren’t just him trailing along for the ride, waiting for the treats and surprises, dealing with the unpleasantness in stride. He’s remembering. He remembers last time he was here he had to have needles, blood drawn, tests that hurt him. This time, the entire drive, he asks “no needles this time right Mummy?” “No needles this time Mr. T.” I assure him.
He makes me proud. He smiles at the child in the wheelchair, he says hello to the bald child pushing the IV around, he doesn’t even flinch at the severely disfigured child in the elevator as they both peer out the window marvelling at how high they are going. He makes me proud.
We sit in the exam room waiting for the Doctor with the results of his xrays. The xrays we just had done down the hall. We play I spy. We tell stories, each of us taking turns telling one line of the story at a time. An hour goes by. I let him play with my phone and he teaches me the game on his leap pad. Another hour goes by. He’s tired and bored. He lays on my lap and asks me to tickle his back. I don’t know when it happened but at some point his body has turned into the body of a little boy. No longer the chubby little baby or even toddler that fit quite snugly into my lap, his gangly legs now hang over the side while he tries to figure out what to do with his torso, eventually settling with arms around my neck as I rub his back. I’m in heaven as these moments don’t happen as often as they did when he was that chubby little baby. As the third hour approaches the first doctor comes in. She asks us questions, tells us things look good, assure us she’ll be back with the other doctor. The next doctor comes in, examines Mr. T. Again, I’m proud. He does as he’s asked. With no sign of fear. The doctor speaks to the intern. Showing her; “see minimal change, which is good” he says. I smile and breathe a little sigh of relief. He looks at me and says the same but then adds “there is quite a good chance he will need surgery again in the future” My ears ring, as though I’ve been slapped in the side of the head. My head spins as I watch his mouth moving but barely hear the words coming out of his mouth. I hear “we can’t know yet” “‘everything as is for now” but I’m stuck on “surgery in the future”.
We get up and I thank the wonderful doctors. With an awkward smile on my face we shake hands. Mr. T gives them a high five.
As is our routine, we go for lunch, Mr. T. opting for a cheese bagel and cream cheese and a fruit smoothie. We chat. He asks questions. “What room was I in Mummy?” “That room right up there” I say pointing at that 3rd floor window that was my home for countless hours. “And I was very brave when I was a baby in that room wasn’t I Mummy?” “You were one of the bravest boys I ever knew” I respond watching the smile spread across his face.
As we eat I remember those hours spent in that room. I remember each night I had to leave him there and how horrible I felt doing it. I watch his little face oblivious to my memories or my fears for his future. I realize something sitting at that table. That every moment of those first 6 weeks of his life has shaped every decision I have made since where he’s concerned. Mr. T. is four and a half years old and has never slept anywhere without us. Not that there hasn’t been offers, the grandparents would love to have him. Mr. T. and Ms. J. just haven’t seemed to want to. What I realized sitting there in that hospital looking up at that room, is that I’m ok with that. After the pain that I felt leaving Mr. T. in that hospital every evening, my heart tells me his place at night is with us. Sometimes I would like to sleep in past 7:30am but it’s a sacrifice I agreed to make when I had children. If the time comes and either of them want to have a sleepover I will have a decision to make. Until then I will snuggle them goodnight every night that I have with them. For all those weeks I had no choice but to leave him all alone, and go home feeling an emptiness inside. If I don’t have to do that now why push it?
For now I hang on to each second of this beautiful ride. It’s flying by. Gone is my baby. He’s been replaced by this incredibly strong, intelligent, beautiful little boy and is morphing, as we speak, into a young man. What the future holds I don’t know. My heart wonders how I will get through another surgery but if that’s the path we are meant to take we will get through it together. He is strong and he makes me stronger.
Until we get there we will continue our adventures and I will answer his questions. “Which Doctor saved me Mummy?” “Dr. C. and she was amazing” I say. As his questions grow more complex so will my memories. They will intertwine with each other retelling him his own tale. Together we will put together the pieces of his puzzle.