On the day of Jacob’s birthday I felt extreme sadness. I really wanted his birthday to be all about him, but I was overcome by a feeling of breathlessness, fear and excruciating emotional pain. I was remembering hour by hour what I was doing the moments before I flat-lined. I explained to Jonathan why I couldn’t sleep the night before and why I was a little hesitant to be social that day. He understood, but didn’t fully comprehend the level of anxiety that was crippling me in that moment. He said “Honey, this happened 2 years ago.” I said “I know sweetheart, but I don’t think the cells of my body think it happened 2 years ago.” I wasn’t even consciously thinking about that day as the anniversary of when I died. I was trying to focus 0n that is was Jacob’s big day. Obviously unsuccessfully. But I’m guessing this was some residual affect from the trauma. I most certainly felt guilt about it. How selfish was I?!
It was a reminder that I am not 100% healed. Not even close. Even a special delivery of the advanced copies of the book didn’t take care of the guilt. In fact a new version of guilt overtook the one I was feeling for thinking of my own pain on this special day. You see, there is a chapter in the book where I discuss my recovery and how I felt towards Jacob. I can’t even write it down here now because it is so painful to read, let alone rewrite it. One confrontation of those old feelings was enough to last a lifetime. It was how I felt then, most certainly not how I feel today. But nevertheless, still feeling guilty at even having those momentary thoughts in the book, fleeting as they were.
Call it a sign, meant to be, coincidence (in which I don’t believe) or kizmut (Yiddish term for “meant to be”) at Jacob’s birthday, I was given a present that helped alleviate some of that pain and guilt, by the birthday coordinator, Steve.
Steve said “I really support everything that it is that you are doing.” It caught me off guard. “What do you mean?” I said. He continued, “Well, my mom almost lost her life when she gave birth to me. I was her second child and she could no longer have any more children. I am healthy and she is alive. So yes, the work that you are doing, people need to know about it and I support it 100%.” It was definitely not a coincidence. Here it was, there was a 20-something, beautiful young man with brown eyes standing in front of me. He was my future. He looked a little like Jacob. And what he said to me was exactly what I needed to hear. “I am in awe of my mother. She is strong, determined. A survivor. I am so proud of her and what she has done.” It took the edge of the guilt off. And I stood up a little prouder. A little taller. And ready to open up to exactly what the Universe has in store for us.
I can’t say that next year will be easier, but this year was easier than last year, so here’s hoping it will be less painful. And each year that goes by, Jacob’s birthday will be all about Jacob. Hoping my catastrophe will be an incident we will all look back upon and say we are proud to call you mom. Adina is constantly drawing pictures and handing them to me, almost daily and saying “this is so your boo boo feels better.” I assure her that the pain is not what it used to be and you can see she is happy that things are getting back to normal. And Valentina constantly says she is proud of me and at 9 years old can articulate why. “Because you fought. Because you survived. And because you turned something so bad into something that might be able to help a family. I don’t know what I would do without you.” All of it, including the family I have, is something to be proud of.
So when Jacob reads the book, maybe 11 years from now, my prayer is that he will be able to see through the pain and the fear and realize I would give my life up for him & my family. I love him with everything I have. He is my little man and he is my favorite little boy in the whole wide world. Steve made me understand that he inherently knows that. That he will always know that. And what I am doing on this next phase of my life will be something he admires and respects. At least that is my hope.