Sometimes, I really don’t know which way to look. When Aaron was a baby, he had medical issues that affected everything he did. We visited specialist after specialist, and each time I hoped we could find “answers,” as though there would be some sort of watershed. That day never actually came, but I can look back now on his seven years and know that he has come far, that he has grown into a kind little boy who has all but overcome the chains of his early childhood.
I kept vigil with this boy through the long nights, listening to the rhythm of his breath in case it should leave him. This boy who struggled to keep down food and narrowly avoided a feeding tube now stands beside me as my ally as we both fight to help Ethan understand.
Sometimes, I am afraid. We are afraid.
It’s a little overwhelming to think of looking into Ethan’s future. What if there is nothing there? What if it doesn’t get better, if the fight never goes out?
I only hope that the tiny footsteps of every given day will lead somewhere, anywhere, that includes joy, fulfillment, and tiny celebrations that pepper the days to come.
The assault and combat hurt now, as he hurls wooden trains designed for an entirely different purpose, narrowly missing his brother’s head in favor of adding yet another hole to the living room wall. We should probably move the pictures again.
The constant banter, the incessant voices that plead for nothing tangible, these hurt too, perhaps even more, because there can be no defense. My soul would open if I could will it that way.
Thoughts of my own mortality have moved into my head. What will happen if the day should come when we can no longer care for our child, a beautiful boy who fights with the force of a squadron? Who will meet his bus? Who will butter his toast? Who will love him?
There are days when the questions overwhelm me, and I am carried by the force of the waves, out of control. The tears wash away the thoughts, and we carry on for another day.
The brothers walk arm-in-arm, dressed in a combination of army suits, sunglasses, snow boots, and Star Wars gear, out to the barn to find their bikes. As they drive through icy gravel patches and slide along in the mud of winter’s aftermath, I can hear them plotting and laughing. The noise is great music.
They are little boys. They are little boys that carry burdens too great to close into a knapsack.
They are little boys that speak of one day living together at the Super 8 Hotel and buying as much pop as they could ever want to drink. They cannot imagine life without the other. I cannot imagine life without either of them.
One day, something will happen. I will look behind me and know, even as I see the shadows of the brothers playing combat in the gravel pile, that we have survived the long winter, that the storms are behind us. Somewhere, all along, was a light to lead us home, home to where we did not even know we belonged.