Kindergarten...just hearing the word conjours up so many emotions.
Our first experience with kindergarten 15 years ago was so different than today...but so much the same in many ways.
Tyler was our first born...He was so ready to take this step in life but weren't as ready as he was. He loved every minute of kindergarten. He loved to learn and it all came so easy to him. As we walked him to school on that most beautiful, sunny day years ago...I felt lost for a time...I was not quite ready to share him with the world...little did we know then how fast the time would go...
And then Aaron was ready to get on the school bus just one year later. He didn't talk or walk. How could I possibly send him off to school with staff that hadn't yet had a chance to get to know him. And I didn't want them to just get to know him, I wanted them to love him. I wanted them to see past his disability and straight to his heart...which was filled with joy and mischief. I think I hyperventilated that day.
And today he turned 20 years old. He still does not walk or talk. And yes, despite what people tell you, kids do go to school in diapers. And it's okay. That was the least of our concerns for our son born with a disabiilty.
Three more times, we picked out that special outfit and stood each of the kids in front of the birch tree in your front yard. We took pictures of them with their new backpacks filled with new crayons, and excitement for what lay ahead for each of them. Along with the excitement (and tears), was a bit of fear, a bit of regret (wishing we had not wasted a minute of their first five years) and a bit of sadness.
Each year there would be a preschooler watching the big day...waiting for their turn to enter "big school." We thought this next one would be our last. And so each day, when the last school bus left our driveway, Brennan and I would play. I wanted to cherish each moment I had with my last little one. We had such fun that year...and on the first day of school...I still had a bit of fear (he was so shy), a bit of sadness, but no regret. It was a precious year.
And I though that year would be my time to "regroup". Maybe to figure out what I was going to do with my life:) and at least try to remember who I was before I was a mom. I was committed to deepening my relationship with God. It didn't take long for me to hear that God was speaking clearly to us...that our family was not complete. Little did I know that by Christmas of that year, we would add another incredible child to our family. Little did I know that Kaden would come with a brother just one year after that...who would never make it to kindergarten...I had no idea at the time that God was leading us toward children who needed specialized medical care and a family of their own. The adoption of Kaden led us to the adpoption of four medically fragile children to our family. Evan, Elijah, Maisy and Isaac....
And one of those children was Elijah..
The Open House for the school that he and Kaden will attend kindergarten is being held tonight.
I never even imagined in my mind what the first day of school would be like for Elijah. I didn't let myself think that far into the future. He won't be there with his class on that first day. Instead, he will be in the hospital as has been for 45 days now. I bought him a first day of school outfit last week. I intended to take pictures of him with his backpack here at the hospital. He does have a tutor here. But, it just didn't feel right.
He is sick. He is not going to school. It didn't want to just go through the motions as if he was.
Again, I have the same emotions I did with all of the other kids as the first day of school approaches. How could my baby be so big? Why does time go by so fast? How can I say goodbye to his preschool years that I have loved so much?
I think of years when I worried about such small stuff...like if the kids got the teacher they wanted, or if their best friend was going to be in their class. I worried about where the bus stop was and how I was going to be able to keep up with all the homework they would come home with. I let the small stuff steal pieces of my my joy.
This year, there will be no small stuff threatening to overwhelm me. My perspective has been aligned with all that is really important. My sweet Elijah is alive! He is 34 days post transplant and he has a stranger's healthy bone marrow growing in his body. He won't walk through the doors and meet the kids in his classroom until next year sometime. What may have been my plan was not to be...but, he is alive! And we have seen God's hand through it all...there is no feeling sorry for myself or for him, because I am confident that Elijah is right where God wants him to be..and God is using his struggles to share a story of hope through tough times. And even though the road to recovery is still long, I can begin to dream for his future. And it's so bright, I really could use some sunglasses.
And so it is a bittersweet time as the kids head back to school on Tuesday. I wish he could be standing by Kaden's side for the bus to pick him up early Tuesday morning. I wish I could be stroking his beautiful head of hair that is no longer there. I wish I could be taking his picture as he steps on the bus. I wish I was holding back the tears as the bus drove away. But, my Elijah is a kindergartener. And that is the miracle. I am blessed mom to have been able to watch him grow.