I remember the day I took this picture.I remember this day because it was an incredibly different day than the one I had imagined.
This was Frankie's first day of school.
Since my son was born, I had pictured a bright day in August, Mike and I chasing him around with the camera in his brand new outfit. The smiles and anticipation for new beginnings, a planet of thought going into the perfect school, the perfect teachers. We would follow him into the building, hugs and kisses. And tears. I knew there would be tears, just not for the reasons there were.
April 15th was gray. It was rainy and awful. And it snuck up on me.
I am happy that we had begun to look at schools the month before your accident. For once in my life, I had actually done something prior to the last minute. In fact, I had met the teachers, we had toured some of the buildings. But my decision would not be one of a well thought-out, balanced mindset. It would be one of rushing to fill out paperwork in an ICU waiting room as you clung to life.
"I mean, I liked this place."
"This lady was nice."
"They'll take him now?" "Could you pick him up then?"
Signed. Sealed. And done.
I know it must sound pathetic. I realize that for many, their babies are placed into the care of strangers long before my son ever was. But it was something I worried about. Not necessarily for his safety, but under these circumstances, in such a hurried state, would he be able to adjust? We had tried to explain to his two year old brain that Uncle Patrick was hurt in the best way we could, that his grandmother wouldn't be there to watch him tomorrow, or the day after...why his mother hadn't been home at night to tuck him in. I wondered if he would be able to conform. I worried I was damaging him forever.
In a way, I'm thankful that I didn't have the focus for these thoughts at the time. The night before Frankie's first day of school wasn't one of packing a lunch or a book bag, there were no checklists or calming bedtime stories. The night before we had almost lost you. You see, my focus was entirely on you. At the time, if I had been able to properly analyze my son's confusion as well, I might have gone insane.
Instead of the multitude of pictures I had planned, this one was an afterthought. Mike had gotten him dressed, sweats...and as we rushed our son out the door, I had remembered the camera. There would be no chalkboard keepsakes with "FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL", date and time inscribed. "Smile, sweetheart." I had said. And he had, sort of.
Off we went, umbrellas in hand.
Mike and I would walk Frankie in as planned. But I wouldn't cry as he hugged me tightly. I wouldn't cry happy tears as he ran off to play with the bin of new toys his little eyes were seeing for the first time, and I wouldn't cry because he had grown faster than I wanted him to. I wouldn't lovingly watch him from the window as I reminded his teachers about the blanket he still prefers to sleep with. Instead I would rush out the door, desperate to hear your status that morning. It was only then that I would cry. All the way to the hospital. Rain beating at my windows as my little brother lay comatose, the sun nowhere in sight.
If this experience has taught me anything, it is that life doesn't always work out as planned. But it has also taught me about resilience. A great deal about resilience.
Frankie would have his transition. There were tantrums, there were many time-outs and tearful goodbyes. Some days I knew it was more than simply adjusting to life in a classroom. My absence was taking its toll, but I had no choice. I cried about it and the guilt would eat at my soul for a time, but in the end I would learn something important. I learned that my son would be okay. I learned that he could adjust. And more importantly, I learned that he could do this without holding my hand.
You would eventually pull through. Against all odds. You would surpass every setback, every hesitation. You would astonish the medical community with your capabilities, despite the significant injuries you have suffered. You would do this down the hall from where we sat, your family. You would progress as your godson was born weeks later, as our sister became a mother, as school let out and back again. And us? Your family? We would persevere. With each birthday and camera-worthy moment, we would gain a bit of hope. All of us, never leaving your side. Never giving up.
When I look at my son now, I can't help but swell with pride. I know he is far from grown, but in my mind he has aged a lifetime since then. We all have. Each day, I watch him hug his friends goodbye. I see the love that he has for his teachers, his amazingly patient, angelic teachers, and I can't help but be thankful for the route we have taken.
I am proud of our family too. So incredibly proud. We have been there for every step, every machine you progressed passed the need for, every tube removal, every doctor's furrowed brow. We haven't missed a step, a phrase, a laugh, or a good cry.
I can't help but wait in anticipation for the next milestone. You can bet I'll have my camera ready.
|visiting hours with Aunt Stasia, Mercy Rehab|
|Mother's Day, 2013. Mercy Rehab Hospital|
|School Treasures :)|
|Frankie and Uncle Patrick, July 2013|
|With Uncle Bob|
|Brady Gerard Brockmeyer, April 30, 2013|
|Uncle Patrick with his godchildren|
|Uncle Patrick's first dinner out, May 2013|
|feeding baby Brady|
|Team Patrick, We love you!|