It started with a small lump. Okay, not so small, but not huge. Behind Cooper’s right ear, last week. Could be from a bug bite. Who knows?
Five days later it’s still there, bigger, maybe, with two more smallish ones new to join the first. That’s when I call the doctor.
Doctor is thorough, encouraging. Probably nothing, he asserts. Watch them for a month, and we’ll see.
On a skinny kid like my six-year-old, anything looks bigger than it is. So we wait, we watch.
We do not borrow trouble.
But I am Mom. I worry silently. I watch with narrowed eyes. Is it bigger? Red? Painful? Different in any way?
I am sure it is nothing. And why worry now? Four weeks is a long time in the happenings of a lymph node.
But the visit makes me grateful, all over again, for the flawed perfection I find in my four children. I breathe the muggy air, fat with rain, and rub my son’s fuzzy head, newly shaved with a summer buzz-cut.
Another day we are given a gift, a reprieve, another day to be worry-free and joyful.
If it were different, I hope I would feel the same.
This past weekend I watched a program on Discovery Health that profiled a 13-year-old born with primordial dwarfism, She towered at 3 feet and had undergone extensive and painful surgery to insert steel rods into her spine so she would not suffer the typical curvature common in people with her genetic difference. Her story was painful to watch, and I wept throughout, as she approached her daily life with so much burden, yet so much hope, wanting only to find the perfect outfit to wear to a birthday party or dance (but none to be found in the toddler section of the store, the size she was forced to choose from).
What made my heart overflow was when she declared, in my paraphrase, “I would not want to change who I am. I like to be small.”
Often we hear stories of children who have struggled or continue to struggle with a disability, or the stories told by their parents of their own struggle to help their children navigate a world not prepared for that unique child. Too often we listen with pity, sorrow.
And maybe that’s okay. We all want our children to be happy and healthy, but we hope that they suffer as little as possible in this journey that is life. I can’t imagine how it must be for parents of children with differences to adjust to a new perspective. We are saddened that any child suffer, be it medical, emotional, or whatever. We are equally heartbroken for the families who suffer alongside them.
At the same time, I know my pity is not what they want or need. What they need is my applause, my admiration, for knowing that the differences make the journey that much sweeter, that much more unique.
I don’t know if all parents would say that they would do it differently if they could. But the parents I know would probably say that they would not trade a single second of the road they’ve traveled so far.
Today Cooper is healthy. I hope he continues to be. But if that changes, I have other parents as my inspiration to not survive, but rather thrive in the midst of whatever circumstances the wheel sets for us.
Those parents do not need my pity, but they should know, they have my thanks.