Exactly one year ago, I was sitting by Brenden's bed in the PICU at UVA. Worried about my little guy, but so thankful he had come through surgery. It had been his fourth trip into the operating room, and once again, he pulled through like a champ. He never missed a beat. The image of him following surgery is still so vivid, but the words "Eat, Mommy," never sounded so sweet. Those words, of course, were his first after waking up. Music to my ears, because I didn't know what to expect following surgery. With brain and spinal surgery there is always the fear of the unknown. Would something happen and cause brain damage? Would nerves in the spinal cord be severed or damaged? But that day, those fears fled quickly as soon as I saw him and heard his sweet voice. Though barely able to open his eyes, Brenden was ok. Doped up on some heavy drugs, but ok. Strong. Courageous. Fearless.
I have so many "this time last year," or "two years ago today" stories, but it is those moments that make me appreciate all the small things. Remembering where I was exactly one year ago today, makes me realize just how far we've come as I sit here looking at Brenden's walker across the room. It makes me laugh instead of being frustrated that Brenden stood up in the bath tub this evening and reached out to flush the toilet not once, not twice, but five times while I was getting Madelynn in her pajamas. He's amused by flushing the toilet, not sure why, but I suppose there's no harm done. At least tonight it was the toilet instead of dumping water out of the tub like he did a few nights ago.
Sometimes it seems crazy that I can remember all these dates....the dates of all Brenden's surgeries. But for me, these have been some of the most defining days of my entire 28 years. The moments that I realize just how terribly difficult it is to be a mom. To love someone so much that I would do anything to take his place. Moments that have tested my faith more than I thought possible. But these mountains have made me strong, and Brenden even stronger. They have given me new purpose in life. I pray each day for God to open doors that will allow me to make a difference and share my experience to empower other moms facing this journey.