Saturday, April 11, 2009

He's 20 now

Gabriel turned 20 yesterday.

It's hard to believe that two decades have passed since that April day, so sundrenched, so lovely, in which not even an entire day's labor brought this child, this being, into my life. He was born at home, in our very ramshackle cabin, barely an hour and a half after my midwife and her helper rushed in.

After the tumultuous events of his older sister's birth in the same cabin--the stuck shoulders, the intricate cord wrap, the near death of mother and child--Gabriel's birth was so easy. He slid into a welcoming world, embraced by my midwife's assistant, who sang a welcoming song to him.

I was busy comforting his big sister, who was just barely 4, another April's child. She'd been wakened from her sleep by the noise of the birth and cried with her newborn brother.

But mostly there were smiles.

Gabe was the easiest of my children; nursing him I would find myself drifting into a world of peace and sweetness that was unlike anything I'd experienced. When my brother came that summer to help build a needed extra room he said "he's your favorite, isn't he?" I denied that (and still would) because finally my mother's "All you children are my favorites" made sense to me. But it was undeniable that Gabriel calmed my soul.

It wasn't until he was 6 or 7 months old that the likelihood Gabe was more unusual than I'd thought, that there was something...very different...struck my dazzled mind. And when I realized, sure, I mourned. I cried all night for my Down Syndrome child, I rocked with fear.

And I won't say it has all been easy. There were the years of pneumonia and the lack of sleep. There were the infinite challenges no one had prepared me for.

There were the moments of pure joy.

So he's 20. And we went to the ocean the day before his birthday, taking the dog, smelling the salt air. I caught a few smiles. We had some pizza. A nice woman complimented his favorite shirt, which has Winnie the Pooh on it.

The winter was hard. The spring has been sweeter, kinder. We see more smiles. Gabe doesn't talk these days, though he sang happy birthday to his sister last week, full on, on key, happily. We work with books and words, we draw, we play games, we walk. He gazes at his father in particular with a funny expression--as if he knows something beyond what we know. And perhaps he does.

The night of his birthday I tucked him in bed with his new Ken doll and his bunnies. He smiled and went to sleep with ease.

The simple moments, the good moments, feed my heart

(my lovely daughter has been scanning her baby journals into her myspace; the photo I just popped into the top of this was taken the day after Gabe's birth; fey sister has been gathering forget me nots in the woods; Gabe is sleeping in my arms)

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Blogger Amy Branham said...

Happy Birthday to Gabe!

And to Mom, who has loved him with all her heart these 20 years!

6:18 AM, April 12, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to your son, and Happy 20th year of the day of your son's birth to you. As always, I enjoy reading what you write and how you write it. Happy Spring!

9:27 AM, April 12, 2009  
Blogger Alan Bluehole said...

Lovely remembrance . . . and another thing I didn't know about you and your family. Peace.

4:38 PM, April 12, 2009  

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