Terrible Palsy – Turning 7

Well…it is our twin girls’ birthday soon. It is hard to believe that 7 years ago we were driving down the highway in suburban Chicago, blaring our horn through each red light in a frantic attempt to get to the hospital. I hadn’t read any ‘how to be a dad’ books because technically we still had 3 months to go. I was still reading the ‘how to be a Jay’ book let alone preparing for the role of a dad.

Within a few hours our two girls entered the world with a storm. That weather has continued to dominate our lives in the form of clouds but often with sunshine bursting through in defiance.  Everyone has weather in their life don’t they?

When the girls weighed in at less that 2 pounds each I had no clue if that was good or bad. They were hooked up to every possible machine in the room apart from the coffee machine! On each visit to the ICU in that first day, the gravity of the situation rested on my shoulders a little heavier each time. What is a dad meant to do? Who are these little people? Why don’t I feel connected? Are they going to be OK? Questions were pulling my macho male confidence into a sea of self-doubt.

Not in my wildest dreams would I have ever appreciated what the next 7 years was going to look like. I thought the girls would come home after two weeks and we’d look back on the experience as an odd blip on the radar. Instead, our life filled with acronyms belonging to the medical world, surgeries, grief, joy, constant hand washing, birthdays, work and a strange sense that the world has passed us by.

It makes a difference when you have the right people around you. Even though our life was a blur in those first 3 years, the strength of our friends and family was what enabled us to take one step at a time. It was also a time where I got to witness the local church at its best.

They say it takes 10 good experiences to counteract 1 bad (I had plenty of bad). Part of the reason I am not buried in my cynicism in regards to the church, is because I have seen it at its best. When the church community acts like Jesus and reaches out to people who are dazed from a land mine, hope has a chance to pollinate.

We are only a few weeks away from a fairy party, sausage rolls, cake and candles. It is because of the people in our life that we get to celebrate with joy for what life has presented us. As we help our daughter Sunshine blow her candles out and do everything we can to bring some ‘normality’, the celebration will carry a sting. That sting is a reminder that grief still resides just below the surface. It is also the mark of a season that is over and the loud megaphone of the season in front.

As the minute hand brings the girls into their 8th year and they are asleep from an exhausting day, my heart will be filled with a joy wondering how the heck I got to be so lucky. That is about as complex as it needs to be. As tomorrow looks after itself I will keep occupied with being present and engaged. The more I embrace my new normal, my old normal seems so weird and distant and I reckon that must be a good sign.

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