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May 08

The Missing Three Years

I know I shouldn’t feel this way. I know I should be grateful I still have a Sammy. I should be focusing on the fact that he’s survived the past three years, gone through the trauma and the loss and emerged stronger and more emotionally able to handle whatever life throws his way. I know that if he’d hit the car four inches higher, or four inches lower, we wouldn’t be anywhere near as lucky. He’s a little bit blind. But he’s healthy and whole and I should be focusing on that.

And I do, for the most part. But today, shopping for a water bottle for him, it occurred to me that we had lost those years. Lost the normalcy of age nine, ten, eleven and twelve. He’ll be thirteen in two months, and I’m unsure what 13 year old boys like. Is a minecraft water bottle too babyish? (It’s not, for the record. He was delighted with it) But it occurs to me that I don’t know those things, because Sam missed those years. He didn’t get to have those normal, growing up years.

I mean, he HAD those years. But they were learning all these existential HARD things. Like what it’s like to deal with incredible pain. What it’s like to lose your vision, slowly and painfully, and how to navigate in a world that’s so much harder now that you can’t see what’s coming your way. He had to learn the capriciousness of life, that sometimes horrible things happen, even when your mother is standing right there, and there’s no real safety or security ever.

I wanted him to learn about Batman, and stupid shark t-shirts, and Mario Brothers and whatever else 9, 10, 11 and 12 year old boys were learning. I wanted that experience of mothering a kid who was growing and learning and doing things that all other kids his age were doing.

It never occurred me before, not until we were here, putting him back into the real world. He spent the past three years at home, with me, healing, and learning and talking and laughing, but not experiencing all those things that I wanted for him. Now we’re playing catch up, not just on fractions, but on regular life.

I know I should be grateful. And I am. God, I am. I love this kid so much, and I’m so proud of him. But I wish his life was easier, I wish we hadn’t missed out on those years. Those years have made him who he is, as strong and stubborn and funny and sarcastic and sweet and loving – and I wish I could be grateful for those lessons. But as much as I love who he is, I wish he didn’t have to go through missing those years to get it.

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