Monday, July 21, 2014

A Reason to Hope

For as many times as I have been knocked down by my pain or respiratory issues, there are two little people that inspire me to get back up time and time again. I have two precious nephews who give me a reason to hope for healing, because to leave them would break my heart. Ethan and Eli, my brother and Sonja's boys, might as well be my own for as much as I love them. I would give my life for them, and I will strive to heal if it means having one more moment, one more day in their presence. 

When I lost my son Gabriel and soon after found out I could not have kids of my own, my heart was broken. Being a mother was the one thing I knew I wanted to be from the time I could play with dolls. It was the one thing I knew I could do well. I was elated to find out I would be a YaYa for the first time. Ethan came into the world at a very hard time in my life. I was recovering from a series of botched surgeries and a major infection as a result of them. It was like I had been living under a dark cloud, and when Ethan arrived it was as if the sun shined through. He was and is precious.

One of the great sorrows in my life is that Ethan has had to grow up watching YaYa be sick. We've had our own language about it. He would ask question about why YaYa wasn't around, why she was in the "hobstible", why she was in bed so much. We have called my health issues "icky bugs" that are deep inside my body. He will ask why they weren't going away, why the doctors can't "fix" me. I hated that even a morsel of his innocent world was poisoned with thoughts about YaYa being sick. I hated him seeing me that way.

When Eli arrived, there were suddenly two little rascels with very big hearts. He and Ethan were so close, and it has been a pleasure watching them become friends rather than just brothers. But Eli could sense it, too. He has seen more than his share of me sick. I wish I could disguise it all, but that's not reality. So he, too, will ask about YaYa's "icky bugs". There is a mix of curiousity and concern with every inquiry. I try to be simple and honest. Time will tell if that's a success.

This recent bowel obstruction made all of my worries come to a head. My mom had just arrived home with my nephews in tow. My legs had gone into spasms, and I couldn't walk. An ambulance was called. I was in too much pain to speak. As I was being taken out of my house on a stretcher, my nephews were in the courtyard just watching. I saw their faces, but I couldn't even utter a "hello" or "I love you". I have always said that I NEVER want the boys to see me in the hospital, but seeing me on a stretcher, unable to speak and soothe them was easily a second runner up.

Since my hospitalization, I had seen Eli several times, but not Ethan. I was worried that he was perhaps afraid. On Saturday, Keith brought the boys over, and Eli came walking right in. Ethan hesitated at the door, unsure if he wanted to come to my open arms or go the other way. He finally came over to sit with me, and when I told him I had missed him, he asked, "YaYa, did you see me that day that you went in the ambulance?"

My heart was breaking. "Yes, sweetheart, I saw you, but I was too sick to say anything."

He looked pensive."Your icky bugs are on the inside, right? I can't get them. They won't make me sick? "

"Right. YaYa's icky bugs are from a long time ago. Sort of like when you skin your knee, and you get a scar. YaYa has a lot of old scars inside, and sometimes they hurt. There is NOTHING you can catch." He seemed content with that.

The older they get, the more they notice. I try so hard to be a fun YaYa, but there are times when my body can't keep up with my spirit. One of my greatest concerns is that someday, their memories of me and our times together will be of the sickness and not the love and fun. In my heart, I hope and pray that the latter will be true. Yet I can't help but feel sad that their exposure to my health issues has left a smudge on their untarnished world. Not that I had choice, but I think it's a natural instinct to want to protect the innocent.

 To me, Ethan and Eli are the definition of joy! I am my greatest self in their presence. Keith and Sonja brought the loves of my life into the world! The gratitude I feel to be their YaYa is infinite. When I feel lost, they are the lighthouse that guides me home. Those boys are my reason to believe in miracles.