Wills' principal quoted Billy Graham at a 2nd grade parents' meeting last week. When asked what life's biggest surprise was, Graham, who was in his 80s at the time, responded without hesitancy. "The brevity of it," he declared.
I am sure I was not the only mother in the room who did not need reminding that my son is growing up. The signs are everywhere. Wills went to camp for ten days this summer, he can read Harry Potter as quickly as I can, his sense of humor leaves us in stitches, and he and I wear the same size t-shirt.
It didn't just occur to me yesterday that life is short. I have been aware of that since I was a little girl. Unfortunately, life flies by even when we do our very best to appreciate each stage of childhood. Don't misunderstand, I have still missed plenty of moments and will continue to do so. I have done the dishes when I should have been playing chess, I have lost my temper over water splashed on the wallpaper in the bathroom, and I have hurried through bedtime because I needed to come downstairs and fix Virginia's night meds (or have a glass of wine).
Watching Wills and Eliza grow up is bittersweet. Obviously it breaks my heart, but I also love seeing them mature and embrace new experiences. There is an added sorrow in watching Virginia grow because as she gets older, she will start to face more complications from her cerebral palsy and it will become exceedingly difficult for me to lift and care for her on my own.
I took the kids to the beach in June with two friends and their children, but Findley wasn't there. It was tough. I had to kneel and rest half-way through carrying Virginia down to the beach. I tried to hold her in the waves once, but quickly realized it was less than safe.
I watched eight-year-old Wills swim out over his head and dive down to retrieve shells, over and over and over again. And I couldn't help but wish that his ten-year-old sister was right next to him, instead of in the house watching her fifth movie of the day.
We had a great time, and Virginia certainly appreciated the change of scenery. It was just an eye-opening trip for me about what it is going to take to handle her in the future and it started to dawn on me that the days I have dreaded for so long may have finally arrived.
I have had this feeling before, that the "good days" were over with Virginia, and I was wrong. Those last two years in Birmingham she was so sick, and that cough was relentless. I honestly thought we were losing her. Not that week, not that month, but way sooner than I had ever imagined. It was impossible to think that she could recover from such a steep decline. We just assumed she would continue to go downhill, but she surprised us, and these last two years she has hardly been sick a day.
So I am sitting here, watching Virginia on the edge of puberty, and wondering what the future holds. How bad will the scoliosis get? Will it be painful? Will it affect her lungs? Will we have rod surgery? How tall will she get? Will I be able to hold her and move her on my own for much longer?
I don't know the answer to any of those questions, but if I look back over the darkest times in her life, we were always surprised by the mercy we were shown, and I can only pray this will be another example of things not turning out to be the worst case scenario. In the meantime, all I can do is take each day as it comes. All of our days are numbered, not just Virginia's, and therefore we must focus on making each one a true celebration of life.
It sounds like a contradiction, but the brevity of life is what makes each moment special. It makes no sense without God, but the impermanence of our time on earth makes it all the sweeter.
We had a great summer. Here are some beach pics,
We spent the fourth in North Carolina with Findley's family,
These might be the two funniest family photos ever, as in future submission to Awkward Family Photos,
This little lamb keeps getting bigger,
We did spend some time fishing at the Eleven Point River, a little closer to home than NC. I caught my first small mouth bass on the fly rod and was pumped, but you have to take my word for it because there are no pictures. These two did a ton of fishing,
Took this for the Garden and Gun contest, but missed the deadline,
The pool at the HTCC was closed one Saturday, but we made do. I will say it was sort of a low point! My brother-in-law had to literally lift Virginia and me out of the canoe,
And what's a summer without eating french fries in a wheelbarrow?
Or using your shirt as a cup holder for your Sonic milkshake?