Every year, I’ve always thought about the fact that I only get one summer. Only one summer when the kids are this precise age, one summer when this is my life. This summer is especially sweet to me, because I didn’t always know that I’d get it. The reality is that my son almost died. One inch lower, and the crash would have probably broken his neck. My son almost went blind. If we hadn’t had the surgery done when we did, he would have lost vision in both eyes. There were so many times this past spring, when the idea of a summer, a season of playing outside, with sprinklers and bug spray, of sunscreen applications and late nights. Sleeping in, popsicles and ice cream, ponytails, swimsuits and bubbles – all of that seemed so far removed from the reality of hospital beds, conflicting diagnosis and rows of prescription bottles.
But somehow we made it. The sun is shining, my kids are all here, and while it’s not like summer of the past, it’s more than I thought I’d have. He’s not 100%. He’s still coming to grips with vision loss, he’s still handling navigating a world where it’s kind of blurry and a lot scary, where the world can change in an instant and without warning. But he’s my boy, and he’s brilliant and funny and courageous and still hopelessly addicted to minecraft.
I’m cautiously balancing going back to work for a few mornings a week with being at home with my babies. My teenager (it’s my first summer with a teenager!) who’s growing up so fast, but is still my baby girl. She’s still incapable of following a recipe, she still throws all her stuff on the floor, and she stays up later than I do most nights. My baby girl is still my baby, but a first grader next year. She’s reading to me at night, and limping around the house because she likes to use Jessie’s old crutches.
I’ve got a fat little dog, who sleeps all day, begs for food at dinnertime, and then sleeps all night snuggled up to someone (he rotates – Julie likes him in her bed, Jessie usually throws him in my room in the middle of the night because he squeaks in his sleep). He’s barely housebroken (happy to go outside, as long as he happens to be outside when the urge to go strikes. Suffice to say, he’s also happy to go inside as well), and still having seizures occasionally. He fits into my family like he’s always been here, and I can’t imagine how I made it so long without a dog.
Marc is busy, busy, busy rebuilding his business. This accident, and the anxiety issues for the two months before, really impacted everything about starting his company – but he’s getting it back. Having me home makes everything easier, on every level. Someone asked us the other day, how we had handled the past few months. So many couples with sick kids, with financial stress on top of it, so many couples don’t make it. But for us – it’s not just that we survived it. We handled it exactly the way I would have predicted – we didn’t blame each other, we leaned on each other. I couldn’t have done it – couldn’t have handled the doctors and the medicine and the confusion and the fear, without him. I couldn’t have done any of it without him. We would not have survived without each other.
And so we’re here. Summer. There’s a lot more staying home than I’d like, in an ideal world. There’s a lot more minecraft, a lot more netflix than I’d like. Jessie made goop earlier, and Sam sat on the floor and colored with Julianna for a while. We’ve got a playdate scheduled for later on today, and I’m still behind in laundry. Some things never change. Even though it is my only summer with a 13, 10 and 6 year old, it’s enough like the summers in the past that it feels familiar and safe. I don’t know that I’ll ever take that for granted again.