I wrote this letter to Alex on September 30, 2015, on his 5th birthday just 4 months after his brain tumor diagnosis and treatment. I shared it on his Caring Bridge page. Writing, at the time, was my therapy. I was so consumed with grief, fear and worry. There were so many questions unanswered about Alex's recovery and future. Only time would tell.
I am happy to say we are in such a better place today and look forward to continued progress. We face daily challenges but nothing like it was two years ago. I am lucky to be Alex's mom and watch him beat the odds daily. God is good.
Thank you for sharing in our journey.
September 30, 2015
Five years ago tonight, your father and I had our last meal as just “us.” We knew the next day, our lives would change forever. We knew we would see, feel and experience things differently when you entered the scene. We didn’t know if you would be a boy or a girl, but we hoped you would be healthy and your entrance into this world would be essentially uneventful at least by medical means. Of course, it would be more than eventful for us.
I knew parenthood would be a journey, but where that journey would take us I would have never imagined.
When you turned four, I loved four. Four was awesome. You became a sidekick, a partner in crime, a real little person. You have always been a talker, but now we had real conversations, peppered with gossip and some serious commentary. You entertained us with your music and magic shows, arrested me and put me in jail, arrested Luna a few times, wore ties and talked politics. I often thought, this was my favorite age yet. I loved you all years but was really enjoying four.
And then four took a very unexpected turn and you began to teach me a few real life lessons. From Alex, age four, I learned how to shoulder the deepest of fear, put my faith in God in real terms, hope more than I could ever hope, trust my instincts, live and love each day to the fullest, not to stress over the small stuff (okay I still do sometimes), to believe in the power and resiliency of a child and to only slightly begin to comprehend the marvel that which is the human brain.
My hope is that four will be your hardest year because no one really remembers life at age four. That the evil force that put that tumor in your brain met its match against God and our legion of prayers and believers that fought against it. That you sleeping through most of the summer was your body’s way of shutting out all that could have been so scary for you and letting you heal. Every day, you become more the Alex we know and love. There becomes less of of an “old” Alex and a “new” Alex and you are coming back to you.
You will undoubtedly have some mountains to climb in the years to come but you have proven capable when you climbed what hopefully will be the highest one. You have accepted it without any real question, somewhat matter-of-factly. You have started to reveal the depths of what you know about your condition and it amazes me that you seem so at peace with it. As if you knew it all along.
Today, you kicked off your birthday celebration with chips and queso at Mother’s Cantina. What used to be our weekly ritual. You were greeted with balloons and presents and cake and everything is as it should be. Our “new” normal is getting back to normal.
I’m sure most mothers agree that the birthdates of their children are far more monumental than their own birthdays and tomorrow I will look back on these five years of your amazing life and I hope we look forward to many healthy years ahead and the joy of watching you grow up to be a strong, caring, compassionate person that has a slightly different twist in your early life story. That is my birthday wish for you.
Each night we pray for the people that have prayed for you. Without them, who are likely reading this as well, I don’t know where we would be. It took a village to raise us up and they sure did it. Our family, friends, neighbors and even strangers that have reached out to us — all of us wonder at why a small child has to fight such a big battle but kept the faith through it. I know Granny took her post in Heaven to keep a watch on you and you are living proof that faith and prayers work. She is surely celebrating your next year of life and your continued healing as are we.
Happy Birthday, Raymond Alexander Wood. You entered this world on September 30, 2010 during a huge nor'easter, at 9pm at night after 16 or so hours of labor and two epidurals. You were 7 lbs, 20 inches long. The first boy on my side of the family, the 5th on Shawn’s. Blond, blue eyed and boisterous. Keep fighting, little man. You got this.