I drove into the parking lot and parked as close as I could without being noticed by my kids. I wanted to observe them for a few minutes. Watch them play and interact without knowing I was there. As soon as they saw me they would come running and have stories to tell me, so I just wanted to watch them run back and forth, between the bouncy house and the water slide. Wanted to see how much they played with each other as well as the other kids and their teachers. They were getting so big. So independant. It was the twins last day at pre-pre-school. They were care-free and having so much fun. In the fall they will start school 5 mornings a week. This makes me choke and my breathing staggers. I felt my heart rate increase and my stomach roll. They are just babies. Babies who I was told would never take a breath. Babies who I held onto as long as I could while stuck in a hospital bed for 8 weeks. Babies who each weighed less than 3 pounds when they were born. Covered in tubes and wires. Constant beeping in the NICU and too tiny to hold. Oxygen levels dropping, heart stopping in fits of bradychardia. So much chaos and so much uncertainty. And when they finally came home, 2 months after they were born, they were still smaller than most babies at birth. And an oxygen tank like a bomb came home with them and sat in the corner of the nursery. As well as a heart monitor which went off all hours of the night. And in the car. Always in the car, on the interstate, on the way to this specialist or that check-up, the heart monitor would go off.
No one can take care of these babies like I can. No one understands. No one really gets it. And now they will be in the hands of someone else every weekday morning. Someone I don't know. And even though I think I am "over it" since they are healthy and perfect now, I realize that I am still going to be racked with panic attacks brought on by seemimgly normal events. I will never completely recover from being told my babies would die, from watching them almost die, from living in a state of limbo that bordered on Hell rather than Heaven. Transitions in their lives will never be effortless for me. I will always be overly anxious and even cryptic when it comes to my children, even though I am a happy and positive person.
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger". We hear it a lot, right? I'm sure I've even said it before. But now I'm really thinking about it. Reflecting on it. Taking into consideration things I have been through, things friends have experienced, different versions of Hell through which we have walked. And I can't be sure. Are we stronger because of it?
There are a lot of broken people out there. A lot of good people who have been traumatized and shaken and defeated. And they recover and persevere. And they are wiser and more grateful. More appreciative, more gracious. More empathetic and sympathetic. But all of that doesn't necessarily equal "stronger". Because those people are also scared and scarred. And relieved, but cautious.
Sometimes we experience things that never leave us, that haunt us. They shape us, but they also disfigure our psyche. Things that leave us gasping for breath years later with little provocation. Things that have us looking over our shoulders. Things that make you realize that sometimes it is almost too scary to love other people. Some experiences make us terrified to hold on too tightly, but just as scared to let go.
I am a believer that things happen for a reason. Good and bad. But I cannot even fathom that reason at times. I am also a believer of intercession and miracles.
Our worst experiences make us realize we can live through things bigger than us, and worse than we had previously imagined. And they put things into perspective for us. But they also make us vulnerable and aware. Sometimes knowlege isn't power. Sometimes it's debilitating.