Thursday, February 5, 2015

What burdens you?

I'll never forget the day I rushed through the cold, dingy parking lot at Boston Children's Hospital. I was bumbling down a ramp like a lame dog, lugging my three-month-old son in his bulky carrier seat. I could barely see what was in front of me, as my eyesight was flooded with hot tears.

The pediatric ophthalmologist had just told me my precious son might be blind in one eye.

What followed was a slew of appointments with doctors, specialists, and more specialists. My new mom euphoria quickly turned to anxiety, anger, and bitterness. As I sat in baby classes, which I'd loved for the support and camaraderie I experienced there, I fumed while listening to my friends complain about sleep and feeding times. It all seemed trivial now.

At the time, one of my friends told me I ought to be grateful it was just an eye. My child could still function fully in society. He could still excel in school and work. He could still love and marry. His life would not be terribly compromised.

Though I did not want to hear this, she was right.

I've experienced the full spectrum of emotions with my child. I've felt extreme despair at diagnoses and extreme elation at progress checks. I've felt frustration and anger while guiding him through treatment, yet pride and awe at his ability to gracefully tolerate endless poking and prodding. His patience is infinite. My heart has swelled when seeing him deflect the stupid comments people make when they see an eye patch.

I do not know what burdens you may carry: most of us keep them hidden deep below the smiles and pleasantry we show each other in passing. However, I want to share a glimmer of hope with you: time may reveal hidden truths and learnings you will garner from your experience, and you will come out the other end realizing you have great strength and courage. My hat is off to you.

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