Happy (almost) Birthday, Wills! The decision to have Willsy was an easy one- it made itself. But I will say that Findley and I had both always wanted a big family and we had already been robbed of so much, we weren't going to let what happened to Virginia shatter that dream as well. Besides, the more love Virginia has in her life, the better.
I definitely wasn't prepared for the emotions that came with my second pregnancy. Many people have told Findley and me over the years that we were brave to have other children after our first experience, but I don't think that is the case. We knew exactly what caused Virginia's injuries and weren't concerned about that reoccurring. What I struggled with during that pregnancy was to some degree the same as what all mothers struggle with when welcoming subsequent children- guilt over abandoning the first child. But for me, those feelings were stronger because my first child still needed me every bit as much as the day she was born and always would.
I felt guilty that I would be able to provide Wills with a healthy start, something I wasn't able to provide for Virginia. I knew it wasn't our fault, but I also knew that what we went through with Virginia would protect Wills from a similar occurrence. I felt guilty that Virginia would have to watch him succeed at things she could never do. How could I cheer for him as he took his first steps while she watched from her wheelchair?
I was afraid that after all I had been through with Virginia, there was no way I could ever love another child as much. How wrong I was! Wills is one of the biggest blessings in our life, and in Virginia's, too. From the moment I saw those big eyes, I was in love. He is better therapy for Virginia than any amount of time in her stander because he loves her so much.
Being Virginia's brother has created a heart of compassion in Wills that is unusual for a four year old. Findley took him to a birthday party about a month ago and the kids were playing 'Duck, Duck, Goose.' There was a little boy at the party who walks with canes and he tagged Wills. Wills could have easily beaten him around the circle to reclaim his spot, but he let the other boy win. Findley said that he had tears streaming down his cheeks as he watched from the sidelines because he realized the impact Virginia's suffering has had on Wills. When I asked him about his actions at the party, he only had one thing to say. "Mommy, I would have wanted someone to let Sissy win, too."
Wills does not want to go anywhere without Sissy. If he goes outside to play in the yard, he wants her to come, too. Wills only goes to school three mornings a week, but his preschool classroom is next door to Virginia's kindergarten class. If Virginia doesn't go to school, he won't go either. They are two peas in a pod. We are celebrating his birthday today, and when we were making the invitations for his party, the first one he made was for Virginia because "Sissy's my best friend."
Sometimes I worry about the future. I worry that Wills will get bored of playing with Virginia and she will be devastated when he doesn't want her company all the time anymore. But Virginia has a bigger heart than I do. There is nothing she likes more than watching Wills play. She wasn't sad to watch him take his first steps- she was cheering right along with me. She finds great joy in his accomplishments, just like he does in hers.
Wills will have to make sacrifices in his life because he is Virginia's brother, but she will have to make sacrifices for him, too. Learning to sacrifice for each other is one of the many blessings of being a family. I have worried a lot about finding the time to teach Wills how to play soccer or how to ride a bike because so much of our energy goes toward caring for Virginia. But I have realized that I can't possibly figure out all the ramifications Sissy's injuries will have on Wills. I have to let go of my worry and trust God that there will be redemption in the way Wills' heart is impacted.
There is an aspect to our tragedy that made me want to close up. I was so sad that it was hard to be open to the joys of life. There are still days when I want to sit on the couch with Virginia and cry, but Wills has forced me back into the world. He has been a very healing presence for all of us. If you force yourself to be open in the aftermath of sorrow, life will find a way to come creeping back. God has used Wills to teach me how to embrace the world again.
Wills will be different because of Virginia. He will have a hundred cavities when he grows up because taking a three year old to the dentist isn't on my radar when I already have a neurologist and pulmonologist on speed dial. He doesn't realize that you can sit down to eat in restaurants because since Virginia can't eat out, we usually don't. (Last week he asked me what the tables at Davenport's were for when we went to pick up a pizza.) Wills also thinks that all planes go to Disney World.
But for an almost four year old, he is already asking some tough questions about life. The other night, he asked me why God healed his eyes (he had conjunctivitis) but He didn't help Sissy walk. He practices selflessness and service every day, but he doesn't even realize it because he loves Virginia so much. As we approach his birthday, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for his life and for all that he has taught me in his four years.
We had a party with his school friends today at one of our favorite places....
I forgot to mention that Wills cut his own hair yesterday.
But the bad haircut didn't keep him from having fun at his party!
Wills got a bike for his birthday. I know this post is long, but I have to tell a funny story about the bike. I wanted a plain, red bike. All the bikes at Target and Wal-Mart were painted with tacky slogans like "Road Rage" and "Major Damage." I finally found a beautiful bike at Cahaba Cycles, but it was $194. Crazy for a four year old. So, sadly, I went back to Target and bought the "Major Damage" bike. I was elated last night to find that all the wording was on stickers, so I just peeled them off, leaving a bright, cheery red bike. Findley accidentally threw away Virginia's jeans (another story), so this morning he was outside digging through the trash and Wills was riding his new bike in the driveway. Wills saw the tacky stickers I had thrown away and said, "Cool. Are those for my bike?" Thankfully he didn't find most of them, but his bike definitely now says "Major Damage" in more than a few places. Guess Target knows four year olds better than I do!
Spent the whole day outside