Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dear Nick

Dear Nickolas,

Yesterday you turned 13. For weeks now I have been preoccupied with this birthday which seems to effect me over any previous birthday any of us have had.

Scenes from the day you were born flash though my memory as you blow out 13 candles with your super cool floppy haircut and devil may care half smile. Your braces cannot even detract from the effortless cool you carry. I won't gross you out with details but there was blood and screaming and your father had to leave the room when things reached... when they got bad. When you finally arrived, you did not scream and cry as you should have. You barely gave us a whimper and I knew, innately that SOMETHING WAS WRONG. It was just like that too, a big meaningless sentence. No one spoke to me as you were poked and prodded and then finally cried, soft but alive. I cried too. I was not allowed to hold you but they let me see you, briefly. Already they were sticking needles in your tiny arms and a plastic tent over your head to keep you breathing. Ask me what terror feels like.

A moment later you were gone and the anesthesiologist spoke as your Daddy walked back into the room, pale and shaky. (Later he would tell me he had gotten sick in the hallway from the stress and the fear and seeing so much blood)

"You must be starving, I'll get you a meal."

"That would be nice." I replied.

8 hours later I woke up. It was Christmas afternoon and a Doctor was there, telling me things that I couldn't wrap my head around. Water in your lungs, transient tachypnea of the newborn , birth stress, oxygen levels, MRI, CPR.. too many big words and mismatches initials. All I heard, all I could understand was that my son, who I had not yet held, was dying.

For two days I sat in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit pumping breast milk for you (don't be grossed out, really) and talking to you. I made you promises.

The impossible.
"If you just be strong I will take you to the park every day for the rest of your life."

And the important.
"I'll never let you go, never leave you."

You heard me, I think. I'd like to think you did because you came back to us. The hood was removed, needles extracted until one day as I sat in my room, still recovering from blood loss and my own injuries, your Daddy walked in the room and gave me the best gift of my life.


It was the first time I had ever held you in my arms. You were six days old.

Today you are a teenager but you are still, sometimes, that cute 3 year old who fell asleep on his wooden ride on airplane because you couldn't bear to part with it. It was pink and second hand but you did not care. It was an 'arghpaned!' and nothing else mattered.

When you were 5 I gave you a bucket of homemade bubbles and left you in the yard while I got your baby brother down for a nap. When I came back, no less then five minutes later, you were soaked in soapy water, bare ass naked and running around with the bubble wand gleefully. You invented happiness.

I watched you Christmas eve with the mug you did not want. When you smiled and said it would hold lots of hot cocoa I had to refrain from reaching over and hugging you. You always see the bright side. Did you get that from me? Or is that all your own?

Last night you heard me tell Pepe that you were the 'great event' in my life that made me wake up. Having you, nearly losing you and then getting you all over again was exactly what I needed then. I needed to understand the value of life. Of my own life. Every day since then has been a journey to be better then I was before, a better mother, a better friend, a better human being. Thank you.

Lastly I want to tell you I am sorry for how much responsibility you bear. I wish you felt more carefree and had less to worry about. Our lives have not been easy, I know. But I hope one day, Nick, you will look back and be grateful for your childhood, for it's hardships and struggles and shining moments of unrivaled joy because those will be the things that make you into the wonderful man you are so close to being.



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