It's late, and I usually write early, but my mind has been thinking about this blinking cursor all day. What do I say about today? Where do I even begin?
My little boy is better. Today was his first full day at school, his first day to play in the neighborhood. He is too thin, too easily cold and spent, and he will likely have more pain over the next few weeks. But today was our first taste of normal life in a long time, and we are all thankful for it.
Normal life. That's what we had today. And tonight, I'm unsettled by it.
Life never presents itself in a tidy fashion. While my little boy went back to school, I prepared for a birthday. Because tomorrow, my baby boy turns two. My baby - my child who died for two minutes and came back to us in July. And my baby - our last baby, meaning that after nearly eight consecutive years, the making-and-raising-babies stage of my life is closing. For years people have told me this would happen. I never believed them.
But today almost didn't happen. Every now and then life is like one of those old Choose Your Own Adventure books, only we aren't the ones doing the choosing. Tonight I can so easily flip to a different page, and see the eve of the saddest, heaviest day any parent can imagine. We were almost locked forever in the baby stage - the baby we would have spent the rest of our lives grieving, the one we would have missed every minute of every day. I would have never completed my baby-raising years in the natural way, because this terrible, unspeakable thing happened to my family, to my baby.
Instead, I made dinosaur cupcakes and wrapped gifts with polka dotted paper. In the morning we'll choose between the pumpkin patch and the mountains to celebrate. Because this terrible thing almost happened, but didn't.
And that's where I am tonight. A week ago at this moment, my oldest son was curled into a little crescent of pain in a hospital bed. Today he's in the backyard with his best buddy, scheming ways to shimmy a card table up to the top of their fort. Meanwhile, I have the great privilege of planning a birthday party. Not a memorial, a party. For the baby in front of me, my stubborn feisty screeching baby who won't stay off the kitchen counters and won't let go of my leg. I get to celebrate the end of the baby days for my very last baby. The one who got to stay.
There's a line from a Rich Mullins song running through my head tonight: With these our hells and our heavens so few inches apart, we must be awfully small, and not as strong as we think we are.
After the past few months, I know without a doubt I'm not nearly as strong as I once imagined. I watched my little boy suffer this week and saw the exact spot where my rope ends. And in the weeks following my baby's close call, my life unraveled with frightening efficiency.
But tonight I'm sitting right here, in the tiniest smudge between my hells and my heavens, thinking about my little boy's first day back and my baby's birthday tomorrow. Thanking God for this day, that was somehow, inexplicably, normal.