5 years ago.
My sister’s first pregnancy was like a stab in the heart. Not intentionally of course, but it seemed to come so soon after I lost Ben, that I didn’t know how I would handle it. For the first while, it was okay, she could tell me about her experiences and I could relate them back to my own. It was exactly what I had always wanted – to share that experience with her. But then her pregnany continued past 21 weeks and I no longer had any stories to share – she was now travelling the road that I had come off of. Watching her, glowing in all of her expected mommyhood was harder than I had ever truly thought it would be and while I did my best to put my brave face on, it wasn’t always succesful and there were times where I had to pull away a little. It was hard and I was terrified that when this baby finally arrived that I would be too jealous of what they had to love him the way that I wanted to.
And then came Thorsten.
I will never be able to put into words what it felt like when I first held him close to me. It wasn’t the same love as a parent – my sister and brother-in-law had that beaming from every inch of them – but it was fulfilling in a way that I had never expected. In that moment I knew that, while there was a Ben-shaped hole in my heart, I didn’t have to fear that there wouldn’t be room for more love; his tiny heart beating healed mine. With every snuggle or giggle that I’ve shared with him since I have learned that our hearts only get bigger. When I first heard him call me “Kik”, his voice broke down the wall that I had put up to protect my heart. He helped my heart prepare for how much I would love Lily and there are times when I see how much he loves her that I’m almost brought to my knees because I’m so thankful that he’s here. Because of him, when my sister asked me to be in the delivery room when Ollie was born, there wasn’t a moment of hesitancy because I knew that there would only be more love. I can’t believe that it has been 5 years since that amazing day and a year won’t go by where celebrating his birthday will also feel like celebrating my own.
Our little family seems to be surrounded by love these days. A few weeks ago, a friend of ours came to drop off a hammock that we were taking off their hands. We didn’t especially know what we were going to do with it – our backyard was so overgrown that it actually resembled a jungle. As he dropped it off, he started looking around and you could see the wheels in his head turning. Before I knew what was happening, he had planned out how to take down the half-dead trees, pull out the decrepid garden boxes that were just taking up space and extend the patio so that we could actually enjoy our backyard. Each weekend (and many weeknights) since have been a flurry of shovelling, raking and levelling, but it’s so close to being done that I can taste it. Out of the goodness of his heart, we could actually begin to see a backyard that we could enjoy spending time in.
And then, as if we had planned it this way, we got a phone call. Lily’s early intervention vision worker, Janet, who has been with us since Lily was 8 months old, had nominated Lily to receive a backyard playground from a foundation called Million Dollar Smiles and our family had been chosen! So now all of this backyard work has a purpose because on August 14th, Million Dollar Smiles and a team from the BMO head office, who are sponsering Lily’s playground, will arrive at our house and a huge playstructure will be left behind. There are zero works for how overwhelmed we are with all of this generosity: from Janet, who thought of Lily in the first place, to the time being put in by Million Dollar Smiles and BMO! A couple of the volunteers from Million Dollar Smiles came to the house last week to drop off the boxes and they stayed for easily half an hour, walking us through what the day would look like, the best place to put the play structure and showing us the modifications that they’re going to make so that it works best for Lily’s needs – they customize each play structure for the specific needs of each child, which is just an extra touch that makes it so meaningful. I can’t wait until we get to see the finished product!