Yesterday was your birthday! What a fine young man you must be!
Could it be possible? 19 years old? It seems like just yesterday that I held you in my arms! Ten fingers, ten toes, perfect in every way! You were my rainbow baby…but I don’t think they even had that term back then!
The holidays were picture perfect with you in them! A first Thanksgiving surrounded by family, your first Christmas with pictures of you under the Christmas tree, and Valentine’s Day with you as my perfect little Valentine…I can remember that Valentine’s Day as if it were yesterday…because the next day changed my life forever!
We were just settling into our routine of life as a family and I was headed back to work.
Maternity leave sure went by fast, but I was lucky enough to have family that would watch my most precious baby boy!
My morning started like any other…trying to get out the door with baby in tow! Almost out the door…and somebody needed a diaper change! Back upstairs we went for a quick change. The diaper looked darker than usual…but it was a different, “cheaper” brand so I just thought it was the diaper.
Out the door and on to work we went. Just a little past lunch I got a call from my sister-in-law who said she thought there was blood in your diaper.
So, we took you to the emergency room. Pretty sure I thought the whole way to the hospital that you had an urinary tract infection and we would leave the hospital with some antibiotics and we be on our way.
But that didn’t happen…and thus we began some different “firsts”…….
The first time I heard the words tumor, scans, surgery…they all kind of blurred together…and then the first time I had ever heard the word cancer…
As a new mom, I never even knew that children got cancer! When other mothers were talking about their “firsts” like sleeping through the night, rolling over, cutting teeth…I was dealing with our new “firsts”…first surgery, first port, first round of chemo, and though we weren’t the first…we were lumped with the few of a rare form of childhood cancer called atypical rhabdoid tumor.
From that diagnosis on, we lived our life as a family in Akron Children’s Hospital.
For the next five months, we spent less than a full week at home. I moved into your room and slept next to your crib as the sounds of machines became our nightly lullabyes.
Our days were filled with poking and prodding, tests, scans, therapy, needles and Barney!
Barney brought us some much needed songs, and dancing….after all….you loved sing and dance! And I probably crammed a lifetime of cuddles into five months…
I will cherish those memories, even though they aren’t the typical memories that one thinks of during the first years of a childs life.
But those are the only memories I have of you.
After a courageous battle, you slipped away to the sounds of fireworks as the rest of the country celebrated the upcoming fourth of July weekend. To say you went out with a bang…would be the truth!
So, Happy Birthday my dear sweet Jacob, may you celebrate this day with the angels! And I hope you know that as long as I’m living…my baby you’ll be……
(Phoyo-Shellyn Leeper Photography)