by Kate Gorbey
Almost three and a half years ago, our sweet and beautiful little guy, Tripp (Tim the 3rd), was born 9 weeks early. By his 5th day of life, both lungs had collapsed and temporary lung tubes were needed. Thankfully, his lungs were revived and we continued our 30 day stay in the NICU. Finally, the day before Thanksgiving, we made our way home having no idea how hard the coming months would be. Tripp and I were quarantined to our house for 4 months due to coming home in the heart of flu season. By his 1st birthday, Tripp was still not walking. A couple months later, he was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy (CP), a disorder of movement, muscle tone, or posture present from birth. Mostly Tripp's lower body has been affected. He is still unable to walk on his own without support and needs assistance in a lot of areas.
In Tripp's second year of life, Tim and I calculated that Tripp had over 160 doctor and physical therapy appointments and meetings. I was emotionally and physically exhausted, feeling like I was way in over my head as a new mom and spiritually drowning. I experienced a long period of deep-rooted anger and bitterness toward the Lord. I couldn't understand how he could let our little boy suffer and miss out on so many things. I felt so alone, so deeply sad and wounded in pain by this thing I could not control or fix.
By Tripp's second birthday, I started receiving Christ centered counseling for about 6 months and it was during this time I started writing about my journey with Tripp and CP. I began a series of letters called "Letters to the Observer". It seems fitting to share this particular letter with you in now another time of loneliness, of waiting, of waking up each day with our senses heightened to a situation that is very much out of our control.
Letter to the Observer (III)
Yes, Little Man giggles. He giggles A LOT. Just thinking about it brings out my own smile, the hard things slowly release their grip on my soul, and in that moment, I start to believe we will be ok again.
His first real word was giggle. At almost 2 years old this month, it's still his favorite word. Often times I think Little Man epitomizes the word joy better than anyone else I know. I mean if you’d ask me, How would I describe joy? I'd say “Little Man.” …
“I'm gonna get you!” I smile, and exaggerate the you're-in-trouble-pose, hands on hips, head stretched out with raised eyebrows.
He giggles and tries to crawl faster. He pauses and turns. Looking up at me, he waits.
“I see you!” I laugh and take a couple steps toward him.
Little Man shrieks with uncontrollable giggles and tries to crawl away again. But I scoop him up this time and bring his pouty cheeks up close to mine. His smile so big. I kiss his one little dimple. Little Man laughs and buries his face into my shoulder for a moment. Then he pushes away and looks up at me. His eyes, perfectly straight, perfectly olive-green and sea blue, perfectly content gazing at the one gazing back at him. I can hear him say without him saying it, “It's here, gazing at my mommy, that I’m home. I love my mommy. I love being home.”
He giggles. The best sound I've heard all week amidst the eye surgery the week before, the 10 other doctor appointments, the leg braces, the equipment chair and baby walker, the therapy sessions and the more mundane yet equally consuming laundry, straightening, grocery shopping.
We turn together toward the hallway mirror. My wild and frizzy hair shoved up in a non-public appealing bun. But I don't focus on the dark circles under my bloodshot eyes or the fact that it's 11am, and I'm still in my pajamas with unbrushed teeth and unwashed face. I'm captivated by the precious face pressed up next to mine. Not one blemish or wrinkle on those exquisitely plump and cream colored cheeks. His rosey pink lips, so lovely and round. Those soft, longing eyes looking at me again. That face. That smile. That boy. Together, we are home.
“Da Da.” Little Man tries to leap out of my arms.
“Caught ya!” Cheers Daddy.
“A DA!?” Little Man requests.
“A DA? I just got home buddy.”
“A DA! A DA!” He demands and clings to Daddy. I laugh because I know Daddy will give in to Little Man's protests at any moment.
“Hi honey.” We each say to each other with a quick kiss.
“A DA!” Little Man insists.
“Okay, okay buddy. You want to go running?” (We somehow figured out that A DA was code for “running with dad”.)
Little Man's face lights up in such excitement and anticipation. He's smiling so hard he can barely shout Yeah! But he does and leans in closer to Daddy with an even tighter grip.
“Never has there been a cuter boy!” Daddy squeezes him close.
“Here we go!” Daddy shouts as they both proceed to run around the downstairs, racing through the hallway, then the kitchen, pass the dining room, and crashing onto the couch.
Now I can't stop laughing and cheering, watching my boy run with his daddy. My boy who can't walk. My son who longs everyday to keep up with the other kids. He knows that speed, the wind through his hair and smacking his face. The feeling of what it's like to almost fly. He can't create himself, but with Daddy, he can run and run and run.
“E deh?!” Exclaims Little Man to Daddy, giggling and beaming with such delight you'd think he'd just won gold at the Olympics. (E deh meaning “again”).
“Okay, let's go again!” Daddy picks up Little Man, and they go flying through the house again.
Quiet tears well up as I stand watching such joy flood our home...
Someday, Little Man. Someday we'll all go running, together, side by side, hand in hand. For now, you run with Daddy. You keep smiling and laughing and reminding us all that it really is going to be ok.
I crash on the couch with Daddy and son. We laugh. We Cuddle. Together, we can run anywhere. Together, we're home. And there's just nothing like home.