2013 has been the hardest year of my life in all aspects: physical, emotional, financial, relational, and spiritual. It’s been a roller coaster of one incredible high but many, many lows. I’m really hoping that this particular ride is now over and I’m praying for a calm, peaceful, uneventful 2014.
First, the high.Twenty days into this year a little girl burst on the scene and instantly fit right into our family like a missing puzzle piece. Any doubts I had about being able to love a second child as much as my first completely vanished within those first few hours of holding my daughter. Each and every day, Charlotte continues to heal the part of my heart that was sliced right open in my first two years of parenting. Charlotte is the embodiment of God’s grace; she is a living, breathing gift- a gift I needed this year more than anything.
In the midst of the excitement of welcoming a new family member and the turmoil of unexpected events, I’ve been watching helplessly as Grayson, my sweet boy, is slowly slipping away. We started off the year with several bad seizures and illnesses resulting in hospitalizations; in fact, it wasn’t until July that we got a month’s respite from a hospital stay. In late April, I dropped my boy off at school and headed for a day at the beach. Little did I know, that afternoon a huge seizure and serious illness would suddenly and violently steal so much from my boy, and we were lucky it didn’t steal his life. Since that day, Grayson has stopped responding to his name or to a smile with one of his own. He no longer can push himself up to a crawling position, and he continues to lose control of his head. His body is awkward, heavy and incredibly stiff. He vomits 4 or more times a day and cannot hold small objects in his hands. Perhaps in some way the other circumstances of this year have been a good distraction, because the tragedy of what is happening to my son right in front of me is mentally and emotionally devastating.
I’ve spent a good part of this year angry. Angry about Grayson and the raw deal he has in life. I’ve been faced with secrets and broken trust, behavior from people that I just can’t make sense of, and circumstances beyond my control that leave me wanting to bang my head in frustration. I’ve been angry at myself- questioning and regretting lots of decisions made that I can’t take back, and embarrassment and shame at my own selfishness and apparent inability to forgive, accept what is, and move on. I’d like to say I’m moving past the anger and entering 2014 with a clean slate, but it’s not true. I’m still pretty pissed off about a lot of things, and some of these things just aren’t getting better.
I’ve heard true character is revealed in the hard times. I really don’t know what this year says about my character. In some ways, I think I’ve handled a lot of our challenges with grace, but in others, not at all. I panic about money and then find it impossible to be generous, even though I’ve been given so much. Some days I look at Grayson and feel such despair and hopelessness, and just want to scream at God, the universe, and everyone in the world who has only healthy children. I’m tired, drained, and feel like I have nothing to give to anyone, including myself.
My hope for the coming year is peace. I want peace for myself, which I know includes forgiveness. I want peace and comfort for Grayson. We are planning a surgery for Grayson in January that I pray will improve his quality of life and our ability to care for him. I want peace for our new home, our marriage, and our finances. I want to celebrate the incredible first year of my daughter, and enter into her toddler years with confidence and excitement for all she is going to learn.
Goodbye 2013. You blessed me, cursed me, and changed me. You will not be missed. Hello, 2014. Please be kind.