Last night I tucked in my 6-year-old for the last time. Today, he turns 7. Whoa. Him turning 6 didn’t affect me too much, but for some reason, this whole “7” thing has got my heart fluttering and my mind racing. For many years, my late husband and I didn’t think that we would be able to have children. We resigned ourselves to living our lives together childless and convinced one another that we were ok with it. Until we weren’t. So we talked, and talked, and talked, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed and this little dude made his way into our lives.
LittleTDJ as I’ve affectionately called him on this blog since his birth, is the greatest blessing I’ve ever been given. The last 7 years have brought me joy I never imagined, heartbreak I never expected, laughter I couldn’t have predicted and darkness that still haunts me. I still have days when I wonder what the Universe was thinking. Who thought it was ok to entrust me with this precious being?
I think that almost all parents feel overwhelmed upon the birth of their first child, and MrTDJ and I were no different. That first year was a whirlwind and there were times when we looked at one another in confusion, frustration and horror. What in the hell had we gotten ourselves into? Larger than those emotions was the love and joy that LittleTDJ brought to us and to everyone around us. My son has an internal sparkle that was present at his birth and has intensified as he’s gotten older. He has a natural charm and magnetic energy that draws you to him; which is at times difficult to balance with his autism spectrum disorder. Cue our constantly looping conversation about not being quite so friendly with total strangers allllllll the time. He is the giver of wonderful hugs (he gets that gift from me) and the granter of amazing smiles (gifted from his dad and I).
Perhaps his 7th birthday has smacked me upside the head because of a simple math formula. He was 3.5 years old when his father died. It’s been 3.5 years since his father died. Now he is 7 – the calendar and clock will beat differently. The time that he spent on earth with his father will continue to fade farther and farther into the recesses of his mind. As of today, he will have spent more time without his father in his life than with him in it. What does that mean? I have no idea. His memories of his father have always been fluid and he’s only had brief periods of sadness. His ability to simply accept that his father is in heaven and never returning to earth has been a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it helps to reassure me that he will be ok. And a curse because I can’t process it with the same logical explanation that is devoid of emotion.
I am supremely confident that LittleTDJ was brought to me, to us, to those he has yet to meet in order to show us the unique way that he sees the world, and to share all that is light, good and joyful. I know with certainty that part of his purpose was to save my heart and soul. 3.5 years widowed and there is hardly a night that I do not still cry myself to sleep, yet I deliver a smile to my son when I see him each morning. He deserves that and more. I’m damaged in a deep and profound way, but I try desperately to not allow that to harm him. His light helps to pull me from the darkness, until he looks at me with his head cocked at a particular angle and he smiles THAT smile at me. In that moment, I can look into the depth of his expressive brown eyes, and his electric smile takes me back to September 1991. It takes me back to the main floor outside my chemistry classroom at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. It takes me back to the first day of 11th grade. It takes me back to the day I met MrTDJ.
With each passing day, my wonderful boy, created with love by my husband and I, looks, laughs, and acts like his father. Yeah. Just like him. A natural comedian who is highly intelligent, especially as it relates to anything tech based. He is his father’s child. Whew. Comforting for a nano-second, deeply painful for the seconds and minutes after that. Perhaps others would find this more comforting than painful, but I do not. I feel the burn deep into my soul, as if serrated knife was slowly being shoved into the center of my heart. There are moments when I wish I could grab my keys, throw up the deuces and disappear into the wind. My pain becomes so intense that the darkness seems inviting and I have actually contemplated leaving my wonderful son with my mother as I walk away from a piece of my soul. She’s one of the best mothers that has ever walked this earth, so I know he’d be in good hands. These feelings caused me to feel such guilt and anger until I was able to verbally speak them. I began acknowledging them recently and I am working through them in therapy. He deserves a better version of me.
As my angel boy turns 7, I’m releasing myself from some of the pressure I’ve put on myself over the last 3.5 years. LittleTDJ has a strong and resilient spirit. Although he has huge parts of his father’s personality, I’m finally realizing that his strength and resilience came from my part of his DNA. I don’t know what this coming year will bring, but I’m beyond grateful that God brought me this gift and I pray that I may continue to pour as much love into him as I can. He’s become the wind beneath my wings and I will never stop fighting the darkness in order to help his light shine brighter.
Happy 7th Birthday LittleTDJ! Our world is infinitely better for having you in it!