Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Brotherly love

Throughout this ordeal with Chunks-a-lot, I have been amazed by how mature Talks-a-lot has handled this entire situation. The first time she had surgery, he took it in stride and seemed to not be bothered in the least by her rough appearance. Since then, he has taken on a passion for the facts as he continuously shares with friends, family and complete strangers that his sister has a shunt AND a brain tumor (he always emphasizes the "and"). This time when Chunks-a-lot was admitted to the hospital, Talks-a-lot seemed to have a harder time dealing with the situation. We had plans to go to North Carolina for my husband's family reunion over the Memorial Day weekend and we were actually supposed to leave the day after Chunks-a-lot's MRI. Obviously, the surprising bad news from her scan and impending surgery the following day kept my husband and I from making the trip, but we started thinking that it might be a good idea to go ahead and still let Talks-a-lot go with his grandparents. Sometimes with kids, distractions are key in an emotional situation and that was the basis of our thinking in this ordeal. Well, Talks-a-lot was initially delighted to learn that he could still go and see his great-grandparents as this was a trip he had been looking forward to for weeks. But as the day wore on, I could tell he was starting to backtrack on his decision to leave. It was beyond obvious that there was something considerably wrong with Chunks-a-lot as they had attached these circular things to her head to use as a mapping system during surgery. And on a side note, I am relieved to know that they do actually use some high-tech tools when poking around in someone's brain. Anyhow, when Talks-a-lot saw his little sister covered in these white circles, he became visibly disturbed. Suddenly he became clingy with her, not wanting to leave her side or mine, constantly desperate for our attention. "I'll miss you so much when you're in North Carolina!" I said, knowing that he would soon be leaving the hospital in preparation for an early morning start the next day. "I don't think I want to go to the family reunion anymore, I just want to stay here.", Talks-a-lot stated as he burst into tears. "Why are you crying? What's got you so upset?", I began, "What has made you want to change your mind and not go to North Carolina?". His response came so quietly and was filled with heart-wrenching emotion, "I just love my little sister and I don't want to leave her.". At that very moment I felt like my very soul was going to explode. This little boy of only five years old was processing this situation at a level far beyond his years. His attachment to his sister has always been undeniable, but this just blew me away. Even though he actually ended up changing his mind again and going on the trip, that moment with him humbled me. I see moms and their kids all the time, going about their normal lives, getting caught up in the where and when of playdates and bible camps and whatnot. And there's times when I long for that normalcy, those days when my biggest worry was if the zoo would be overcrowded or if a party would get rained out. But then I look at all these moments that I have had the opportunity to share with my children and I think, no way. For wrapped up in all of this trauma have been shining glimpses of how wonderful both of my children are. Chunks-a-lot for her courage and resilience, Talks-a-lot for his compassion and loving heart. To watch a baby, not yet even a year old, tolerate IV needles, endless tests (some that have scary practices like being wrapped into a papoose for a CT scan) and bouncing back beautifully from extremely dangerous surgeries allows me to see that this fiery little girl has the heart of a true fighter. And to watch my son put his own wants aside to tend to his needy sister, to be patient with her emotional outbursts when she's having a bad day and to feel his arms wrap around me when he somehow just knows that mommy is sad, through this I have been given the pleasure of discovering how selfless he is and to see his servant heart. Would I have missed all this if I was so caught up in the normalcy of everyday life? Probably so. Therefore, I feel eternally blessed and grateful to be able to see my kids in all of their potential. So I'll put this down as lesson #132 learned and as an endless blessing that I will carry with me forever.

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