I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I didn’t know this feeling could continue to grow, but it does, and it washes over me in huge, swallowing waves.
Michael had an early meeting and planned to pick Benji up afterward on his way to the office. We knocked out more schoolwork before Michael arrived, leaving only three assignments left for Benjamin to finish in first grade. With two weeks left in the schoolyear, we’ll make that deadline easily, even with next week’s hospital stay. If Benji is able to go for the last week of school, he will go without worrying about scrambling to make up work. He’ll just have fun with his friends.
As I was getting ready for the Healthy Start luncheon this morning, I told Benjamin I was nervous. I told him I was so impressed that he faced his fears yesterday and went to school. “Aren’t you glad you went?” I asked. “YES!” “How did you do it?” He looked at me like I was crazy. “I just walked in and said hi, and started playing with my friends.”
I got myself ready for the luncheon, and got Benji ready for an afternoon with Daddy and his workmates–one of his absolute favorite activities. He didn’t want me to pack him any “just-in-case” items. No hand sanitizer or Kytril or antibacterial cream. He just wanted to be one of the guys, and this was fine with me. His daddy knows exactly how to take care of his boy.
When I got to the luncheon, I did what Benjamin said–I just walked in and said hi. There was a reception out on the back porch, but I never made it that far. Nearly every face I saw belonged to someone I wanted to hug, or thank, or reconnect with. It was nice to step back into this nonprofit world I feel so removed from now. When the luncheon started, I sat at a table with my family and some of my dearest friends. Soon, the only thing I heard was my heart beating in my chest, so loud it drowned out the words spoken to the crowd, something about a Legacy Award, and my name, and loud applause, and people standing all around me.
I was literally speechless. It was a recognition for service to the organization and advocacy for pregnant women, but all I could think about was Benjamin. I wouldn’t have left the organization if not for his diagnosis. I wouldn’t have wished for this shapeshifting of myself in a million years. But I am so grateful for the role I’m in now, and for the role I have left behind. In years to come, this Legacy Award will be named after me. That was the part that affected me most. Other people will feel the call I felt, and will be there to steer the ship, so that I can now steer mine. I was brought to the podium, a place from which I’ve spoken many times, a place where I once felt comfortable. I could only say thank you.
In addition to the recognition, I was gifted a gorgeous silver necklace, a mother holding her baby with my sons’ birthstones embedded inside. I was blown away by this thoughtful gesture. After the luncheon, I returned home to change, and get ready to scoop up my children. At my doorstep was a bag, and inside was a card and a box. They were from a friend I rarely see, but one who I met because of my role in maternal healthcare advocacy. Inside the box was–I couldn’t believe it–a totally different yet equally gorgeous necklace, engraved with the words “Banyan the Strong” and “Benjamin the Brave,” and holding their birthstones. Both necklaces rest with such a pleasant weight against my heart.
My mama arrived for a visit just before I left to retrieve Benjamin from Michael and pick Banyan up from school. She accompanied me for our Friday afternoon activities, and we’ve had a lovely evening and a delicious sushi feast. I plan to enjoy my people as much as I possibly can this weekend before Benjamin’s hospital admission on Monday. My heart and my belly are as full as they can possibly be.