My favourite encounters in life are definitely the extreme ones. I’m a bit of an all-or-nothing girl. As a result I’m impatient, feisty, outspoken and pretty intolerant of apathy in all its various forms. I put my hands up to making some impractical life choices because I live in the here and now, although my long suffering (and very different) husband balances me out and somewhat earths my incessant electric need for new experiences.
That said, having a limited edition kiddo was never on my bucket list of new experiences, if truth be told. And yet the range and intensity of emotion that is laid at my door daily through this beautiful boy is beyond even my all-or-nothingness. It’s bizarre, upside down and back to front-sometimes it feels as if the milestones we celebrate with all our heart are the very same things that cause the most pain.
We recently met with the incredible Team B to chat through his progress over the past year, celebrate his achievements and start setting appropriate targets for the next year. B’s teacher had crafted a lovely photo and video montage of the mischief-maker himself and amidst British tea and sympathy we began watching. As B’s gorgeous face flashed up on the screen and ‘You Got a Friend In Me’ drifted from the speakers there was a crazy clash of the benign and the utterly significant. B smiling. B eating food on his own. B sitting on his chair in circle time. B showing an interest in other class members. B clapping to sign ‘more.’ B playing in the water. B listening to a story. B pointing at a photo to communicate a need. My heart leaps thinking how far down the road B’s come since the days where eighteen hours each day were spent screaming. The days where we had no idea how to help him. The days when we didn’t even know what was wrong with our baby. And yet, in the very same instant, my heart dives as I remember with a twisted sucker punch that my boy is a whole six years old. Other six year olds talk. Other six year olds can make choices, play football, eat food by themselves, hold a conversation, keep themselves safe and learn. B’s targets? Hold a mark-making tool and appropriately utilise it. Load a spoon at mealtimes. Turn the pages of a book. Tolerate messy play. Copy sounds an adult makes.
I walked away from the meeting bursting with pride; excited for what B would achieve in the coming year, thankful that he was still with us and totally overwhelmed by the love poured out on him by his teachers. I also walked away feeling gut-wrenchingly heartbroken all over again. Grieving all over again for the ‘normality’ we would never have. For all the things B wouldn’t experience. For all the dreams I never even realised I had for him until they were shattered.
But over and above all these reactions came something even more extreme; something so bittersweet I almost couldn’t bear it. Love. I realised that for my heart to stretch so high and so wide and so deep in my feelings for this kid, I must really love him.
And a lot of times, love hurts.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails….. Now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. ”