Yes, she's strange and different...but not THAT different.

24 January 2006

To My Child

Most of you don't know that my beautiful, intelligent, independent, loving four-and-a-half (going on forty) year old daughter has been through her share of serious problems in her short life. Two years ago, she contracted an E. coli O157:H7 infection and subsequent Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome and nearly died after kidney failure and going into a coma. She spent three weeks in the hospital - half of that in intensive care - and had some very serious problems for about nine months afterward. But by all indications, she has completely recovered and has no physical problems related to that incident today. Then in July of last year, she was accidentally run over by our large riding lawn mower; her mother was driving it to mow our yard at the time. As a result of that accident, my daughter lost the outside two toes on her right foot (I say "lost" because we never found them) and had a very large chunk taken out of her right leg above the knee. After that incident, she spent two weeks in the hospital and underwent four operations to repair the damage to her leg and foot. But today, she has completely compensated for the loss of two toes, her knee and leg have no functional damage at all, and the horrible scars on her leg and foot will (hopefully) fade with time. After all that she's been through, she's in great shape today, although she is still dealing with the emotional aftermath of it all. (In reality, her mother is having a much harder time emotionally because of the guilt she is still carrying.)

So, why the hell did I feel compelled to relate the tragedies above? In order to try and let you know just why the following touched me so deeply. It's not original to me, although it could have been; I got it from a friend but it was written by Sally Meyer and it really struck home for me. Maybe those of you without children won't be affected by it as much as I was, but I have been in a place where I bargained with God and any other power that was listening for the life of my child. And I know just how tenuous and how precious life can be.

To My Child

Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face and laugh when I feel like crying.
Just for this morning, I will let you choose what you want to wear and smile and say how perfect it is.
Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry and pick you up and take you to the park to play.
Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together.
Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep the computer off and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles.
Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once - not even a tiny grumble - when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck, and I will buy you one if he comes by.
Just for this afternoon, I won't worry about what you are going to be when you grow up or second guess every decision I have made where you are concerned.
Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cookies, and I won't stand over you trying to fix them.
Just for this afternoon, I will take us to McDonald's and buy us both a Happy Meal so you can have both toys.
Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about how you were born and how much I love you.
Just for this evening, I will let you splash really big in the tub and not get angry.
Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while we sit on the porch and count all the stars.
Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for hours and miss my favorite TV shows.
Just for this evening when I run my finger through your hair as you fall asleep, I will simply be grateful that I have been given the greatest gift ever.
I will think about the parents who are searching for their missing children, the parents who are visiting their children's graves instead of their bedrooms, and the parents who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer senselessly and screaming inside that they can't handle it anymore - even as they handle it for just one more moment.
And when I kiss you good night, I will hold you a little tighter, a little longer. It is then that I will thank all the dieties for you and ask for nothing, except one more day.

Copyright © 1996 Sally Meyer (For Dhylan)

  • On 1/24/2006 2:03 PM, Blogger DeniseUMLaw said…

    Jami. How could you do this to me? Now I'm sitting here bawling like a damn baby.

    My eldest also went through life-threatening trauma when she was an infant; I completly get where the author (and you) is coming from.

    The time rushes by so quickly. She's now 23, and out of my life. How I wish I had just one more day with her.

  • On 1/24/2006 3:25 PM, Blogger Jami said…

    Oh, sweetie! I'm sorry! And now I'm starting to sympathetically tear up and that's not a good thing at the moment, as I'm trying valiantly to get everything together to head to the airport in about an hour or so. I was so moved by the letter that I didn't think beyond sharing it; I didn't think about it being read by those parents who actually have lost kids.

    In all seriousness, for that reason do you think I should take this post down? The last thing I want to do is make some parent confront their loss all over again.

  • On 1/24/2006 4:45 PM, Blogger DeniseUMLaw said…

    No. Don't take the post down. As a general rule, never take down a post.

  • On 1/24/2006 4:50 PM, Blogger Jami said…

    I know that, and normally my attitude would be "Fuck it! Nobody forced you to come here and read my stuff." But I think this post has the potential to wound someone innocent, and I don't want to do that.

    I'll think about it on my trip up to the frozen North. (It is still frozen, isn't it?)

  • On 1/24/2006 5:08 PM, Blogger DeniseUMLaw said…

    It snowed today. :)

    Don't take it down. Your attitude is the right one. Moreover, people have to deal with loss and they are going to run into times when that loss comes up for them. You can't prevent that. Not only did that letter give me an "opportunity" to reflect on the loss of Jennifer to me, it also gave me the opportunity to remember her when she was that little and so dependent upon me and so unconditionally loving of me. It's a good thing, Jami. ::she says, again tearing up::

  • On 1/25/2006 9:01 AM, Blogger Jami said…

    OK, it stays. Thinking about it on the flight out of town, I came to essentially the same place you have described: folks that are hurt by reading this probably still need time to heal and maybe this post will force them to deal with that issue. Tears are not a bad thing.

    OBTW, where's the snow?

  • On 1/25/2006 2:16 PM, Blogger DeniseUMLaw said…

    In my front yard, my back yard, etc. It's much colder and we get more snow where I live than down here in A2 (I'm in town right now for a class that runs until 5:40).

    Meet for dinner tonight?

  • On 1/26/2006 8:31 AM, Blogger Jami said…

    Obviously not tonight, since it's now tomorrow. I literally turned off the lights when I left the client site last night; got back to my room about 10 PM and simply cratered. I'm getting too damned old for those 15-hour days!

    Tonight? I'll holler at ya.

  • On 1/30/2006 11:36 AM, Blogger Jen said…

    Jami, what an amazing story that she is still here and flourishing. No, don't take it down. This is your truth. This is what happened to you. I'm glad you posted it.

  • On 2/22/2006 1:53 AM, Anonymous Spicy Cauldron said…

    That's beautiful. And I am sorry to read of your daughter's misfortunes, and her mother's ongoing guilt - I hope she learns to forgive herself and doesn't let it get in the way of her own life's path. Guilt can be terribly destructive, as well as always being pretty useless.

    Wow. We Brits always imagine so many folks across the water having acres of garden. It's like the old joke we have about Texans: anything you have, they have it bigger. We have just a back garden, nothing at the front, and it starts to climb steeply from the back doorstep. It rises to a point where we overlook our roof and can see the Yorkshire Moors stretching out forever. in the Autumn, all you see is purple because of the heather which grows in abundance.

    My poor parents, being elderly, have no chance of climbing our garden. The house is basically built halfway down a steep hill. The garden is based on rocks - lots of rocks, both those brought in at some point and those which are natural to the area. We have lots of lovely flowers and shrubs, three what you might call patio levels, but no need for a mower whatsoever thank goodness. It would kill us to get even an ordinary mower up there. Even when using cordless hedge trimmers on the shrubs, we fear falling and having an accident! x

  • On 1/30/2007 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi there,
    the poem you are using was written by myself, Sally Meyer, could you email me, I would love to have my name and copyright on it, as this poem is copyrighted



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