Last night I was reminded of the things I like to forget. I’ve been blessed with a memory that is a colander- sifting out the bad moments and preserving the good.
Last night, I was drawn backwards in time to moments I’d rather not remember. My first born is named Abigail. As a baby and all through her pre-school life, she struggled to do things we often take for granted: to eat, sleep and breathe.
We didn’t know it at the time but she was suffocating on the inside, with adenoids and tonsils that were too large for her tiny body. She woke most nights, throughout the night, and we would go to her. My husband and I alternately took turns letting her sleep on our chests and as she got older, propping her head up so she could sleep upright – swapping duties as night watchmen.
I give you this background because as the years went by, and once her tonsils and adenoids were finally removed, she began to thrive. She is at a good weight, is bright and articulate and generally healthy, except for remnants of her younger life that linger – allergies and asthma. Eyes that swell shut in the grass have made outdoor activities difficult. The meds simply do not work. Being a natural bookworm, she seems unfazed. She also has the lingering asthma, making a common cold feel like an acute infection and again, challenging her ability to rest and thus, grow.
Just one sleepless night ago, I was reminded of her fragility. I was heading out the door when she told me that her lip was swollen. Guaging that it was an allergic reaction, I wanted her with me. I wanted to monitor every moment and ensure that she was getting better. So, I gave her meds and hit the road.
By the time we got to Beverly, where we were looking forward to taking a line dance class, it was apparent that Abby’s meds were not working. So, Abby called Terry Lynn (our dance teacher) and told her that we’d be driving right passed the class to the clinic. Mom arranged a doctor’s visit with her physician and they promised to wait for us and not close their doors. Abby was treated with more allergy meds and prednisone. At 9 pm, we headed home.
The doctor told me that I would once again be on night duty. So I sat next to her and checked in on the swelling every half hour looking for progress. I didn’t want to scare her, so I made sure to stay calm. On the inside I was a thousand tiny nerves endings jumping up and down, screaming out anxiously, praying that she wouldn’t get worse. At 10 pm, things were beginning to look better and by 10:30, it was apparent that the swelling had most certainly gone down. No hospital visit required.
Abby slept with us again – her ten year old body a stark contrast to the the pre-school one that has taken up that same space for so many nights, all those years ago. She was back, sleeping peaceful. She is no longer leaning on us for the essentials. She walks, talks, eats and goes to school. She creates projects, cares of others (when she is not bossing them around) and is just as independently minded as her parents. Still, she is my baby. Last night, I was forced to remember that she is still as fragile now as she ever was and most certainly, more precious.
As the years passed my parenting has been less anxious, more direct and more future focused. Last night, I was reminded to cherish every second and be grateful for each. Good or bad, moments matter and they teach important lessons. Maybe it’s time to remember.