When somebody is going through something difficult, people like to tell them: “It’s just a small moment.” Or: “This, too, shall pass.”
It’s meant to be comforting.
And sometimes it is.
In the last minutes of delivering my baby boy, when I was in excruciating pain — that was a small moment. It was difficult and hard and painful. It was powerful. In the moment, it felt like eternity. But then, it was over in a small moment.
The people in the room shouted words of encouragement that were similar to “It’s just a small moment.” Things like: “You’re almost there!” “You can do this!” “The baby is almost here!”
And those words helped so much. Because they were true — and I knew it.
When Rex was then hospitalized two months later where he was poked and pinched; when he was sick and didn’t get better for months upon months upon months; when the doctors didn’t know what to do; when I poured out what felt like my very guts to God to beg Him to heal my boy… that was not a small moment.
When on his first birthday, I could finally relax — he had gained weight consistently for three months; he could finally swallow food without ‘Exorcist’-style spewing it across the room; he was developmentally on track for the first time ever; we didn’t have to go to the doctor for weekly weigh-ins anymore — I looked back and thought, “That was NOT a small moment.”
Now having just passed his second birthday, with an entire YEAR of health to counter the year of sickness, an entire YEAR of peace, I look back and still think, “That was NOT a small moment.”
Long gone are the days when I would wake terrified each day — How will I feed him? How will I help him? How will I keep him alive?
Long gone are the days when my body was so tense you could have snapped me in half with a flick to my spine.
Long gone are the days when my boy wouldn’t eat.
Long gone are the days when we finally got him to eat, but he would eat, vomit, eat, vomit, eat, vomit.
Long gone are the days when people would look at my tiny, skinny, failing-to-thrive 6-month-old and ask me how many WEEKS ago he had been born.
The buckets of tears I filled during that first year are many.
But those days are gone.
And the buckets of peace and happiness I’ve filled in the year since then are plentiful — more plentiful, even, than the buckets of tears. The buckets of peace and happiness are now inching into the buckets of tears, trying to move them out of the way as they grow more and more plenteous.
But still, those buckets of tears were not just a small moment.
They were eternity.
Even though they’re over, I’ll carry them around with me forever.
After we were sure Rex was better, I worked hard to “get over” what had happened. I saw a therapist, I read about healing, I began to work again, I focused, focused focused on that healing.
I worked so hard to “get over” that first year of Rex’s life that I ultimately exploded.
And I realized — I am not meant to “get over” what happened to Rex. I am not meant to “get over” the physical pain I watched him endure. I am not meant to “get over” the physical and emotional and spiritual pain I endured. I am not meant to “get over” the agony that enveloped my whole body and soul.
Move on — yes. Get over it? No.
I will carry it around in the pit of my stomach forever. It will grow smaller as time goes on — this I know. But it will always be there to bring me back to truth and reality — I almost lost my son.
And this is why that time was an eternity rather than a small moment — it will always be with me.
When I walk into a room, and my boy runs to me on sturdy legs with strong arms open wide, I revel in the joy of his health while simultaneously cringing at the memory of his tiny legs, the skin literally hanging off them.
When he effortlessly picks up new words and combines them in hilarious sentences, I laugh at the ease of his current development while simultaneously wincing at the memory of the doctor teaching me how to teach him to roll over — long past the time he should have been attempting this on his own.
These memories are painful. They bring me to tears, even as I write them in this moment while he sleeps securely in his crib, healthy as can be.
But I carry them with me, because they help me cherish him even more. They remind me of how far we have come; how hard we have worked.
Do we ever “get over” these events that shake our world? I won’t try and force myself to “get over” these memories. I will let them dull with time, but they will continue to be a part of his life and my life.