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If It's YOUR Birthday, Why Do I Look Older?

Dear Son,

This is your birthday month.

You know, don’t you, that you’re fortunate to be alive? Three times the specter of Death tried to snatch you, and three times you escaped.

The first occurred when you were eleven days old. I was standing on the sidewalk outside your sisters’ piano recital, holding you wrapped in a blanket. When I brought you inside and unwrapped the blanket, you were blue and not breathing! We were shocked. Dad blew in your face, and you began breathing again.

That resulted in a trip to the hospital, where they sent you home with a monitor. You wore it for the next two months. Whenever you quit breathing or your heart rate dropped, the alarm rang. We rushed to your crib and held OUR breath until yours started again. During that time, I noticed a few gray hairs sprouting among my dark ones.

The next brush with death came when you were eleven years old. You were out shopping with Dad when you came home, tumbled into a chair and said, “Ohhh, I don’t feel good.” After a few days and you didn’t improve, we took you to the local hospital. The inept doctor told us you just had the flu, and to give you lots of liquids. Little did he know.

More days passed and you lost about a fourth of your body weight. This mama’s heart was breaking because we didn’t know how to help you. We took you to the Children’s Hospital (great place, great doctors). After the doctor saw the x-rays and your labored breathing, she immediately put you in a wheelchair, rushed you to the hospital wing and personally supervised putting you into bed. I trotted along behind, sprouting more gray hairs along the way.

That began a battery of tests. The hospital kept you for five days, poked you with lots of needles--and never arrived at a satisfactory diagnosis. You had a long recuperation period after that, with many visits to a pulmonary doctor. More gray hairs appeared on your mother’s head, but she was too busy worrying about you to notice.

The third time the death angel came, you were an adult. Driving around a slick curve in the rain, you struck a light pole—and it fell across the roof of your sports car. It could have killed you.

So, you want to know why your mom looks older each time YOU have a birthday? Three times you escaped the death angel. Each time my heart twisted in anguish.

You’ll find out soon enough, it's easier to suffer yourself than to watch your child suffer.

Someone asked, “Which is easier to raise, boys or girls?” I liked the answer: “Boys are easier to raise, but harder to keep alive.” Whoever said that must have had a few sons.

Keep up the good work of staying alive. Oh, and happy birthday.



Your turn. Do you know of any children who were a challenge to keep alive? Tell us about them below.

Just for the record, this son has brothers who rivaled his attempts to turn my hair white. But that's a story for another day.


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