I remember taking a class many years ago when our son was becoming a toddler. After ten months in the NICU following his birth, he was developmentally still an infant.
When we were finally able to bring him home, he couldn’t yet roll over, he certainly wasn’t crawling, and we worked with OT to help him strengthen his little body enough to hold his head up during tummy time.
I registered for a class that was recommended to me by one of our many occupational, physical, and speech therapists.
The class was comprised of a group of parents whose children, for a variety of different reasons, had not yet begun to talk. We were there to learn how to help them.
Though it wasn’t a top priority, mostly because I instinctively knew what my angel needed at any given moment despite his silence, I thought learning how to help him verbally communicate would be beneficial for us both.
Part of our homework was to give our children choices. For example, offer toy #1 and toy #2 and only relinquish the toy when the child made a choice by using whatever means of communication he could.
The goal was to entice him to communicate the choice, whether it be through signing or speaking.
As we practiced this method within the class, I remember the instructor joking that we should be offering options we could live with – not ask, “Do you want a cookie or apple slices with lunch?” – then be upset when they chose the cookie.
I think about that a lot when I am struggling with the traumatic events in my life.
I didn’t choose to lose my son at age three to cancer.
No one offered me a choice when he was born at 24 weeks, and my body could no longer carry him.
I wasn’t asked if he could be taken to Heaven.
Had I been given the choice, I would have taken his place, no question, and he would still be here.
But that is not my reality.
And now, every day, I have to figure out how to live without him.
There are days where it’s all way too much, and I don’t know that I can do it.
We are all faced with choices every day. We choose what to wear, what to eat, which route to drive, which relationships to maintain.
We all have a choice to live happily.
We can dwell on the past, and we can succumb to the grief.
Or we can be present each day, acknowledging that some choices are made for us.
One of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to handle those events where we aren’t offered a choice.
Those life-altering tragedies, and traumas, and disappointments that we never expect, but have to endure.
I choose, every single morning, to get up and keep the promise I made to my angel. I choose to be a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a friend.
And I choose to try my damndest to make him proud.