We’re prepared from a very young age to lose. Small children are told not to lose their toys, that old people and animals die, and that it’s the lessons we learn from losing that help us become winners. We’re prepared, yet we still expect to win. When it’s something we can control, we feel insufficient when we can’t win. For the most part, losing is transient. We think it’ll last forever, but it doesn’t. Failure precedes future success. But what if our preparations were futile? No parent is ever mentally prepared to lose a child. I wasn’t. But I came closer to it than I ever want to be again in my life.
The day I almost lost you was beautiful until it wasn’t. It started off just like any other mid-Spring morning. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, your mom was snoring, and I felt prepared. I felt prepared for what lay before me. My day had been organized in a tight little bow, just like I had calculated it in my head a million times. I would get up, get dressed, go to work, be productive, come home, eat, go to the hospital, and see you. I wasn’t prepared at all for what came to fruition.
I remember when your mom and I got to the hospital that evening. We were both smiling, oblivious to what we were about to walk in on. I like to think of myself as a little ornery. Your mom and I still flirt like we did when we were young. We’d walk down the hallway and pretend to push one another, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. When we reached your room, there was an abnormal amount of traffic surrounding it. We didn’t know whether it was good or bad. It wasn’t good.
We walked up to your bedside and you looked like you were reaching out to us, telling us it was okay even though you were the one that was struggling. I tried to comfort you as best as I could. I like to think of myself as believing everything happens for a reason. But I knew there was no reason for this. You were perfect and I wasn’t prepared to lose you, not after you refused to lose so many times. All I could do was cry and hope you’d be okay. I hoped I’d get to hold you in my arms again, to see your infectious smile, to see you staring back at me.
It’s been two months since I almost lost you, son. It was one of the most heartbreaking things that’s ever happened to your mom or I. There was no one we could consult, no one we could solicit advice from, no one who had been there. No one prepares any parent to lose their baby. All we could do was pray. I don’t tell you this to make you feel sorry for us. Your ability to continue fighting has been what’s kept us alive. I tell you this because your mom and I never thought it was possible to love anyone as much as we love you. I tell you because most parents can say they’ve never been in those shoes, waiting for the moment they have to say goodbye. I think, through everything, we gained perspective and I’d like to share with you what we learned.
We learned to love like you’re about to lose. Our day-to-day lives cause us to take so many things for granted. We’re all blindly rushing around, waiting for the day to be over, rarely sitting back and soaking it all in. Find someone or something to love and love it like it could be taken from you any second. If you do this, you’ll be able to enjoy the small moments and soak in that you’d never love something or someone as much as you do.
We learned to let go of the small things. It’s easy to get distracted with minute things that don’t matter in the grander perspective of your life. Focus on what’s important, what feeds your soul, and less about your inhibitions.
We learned to make no small plans when it comes to living. When you’re about to lose your whole life, the only thing you can reflect on are the things you never did. You don’t care about the things you didn’t do as adequately as you hoped or the fact that you did them in the first place. What matters is what you didn’t do. Shoot for the stars, even if you think the moon is an easier target.
Lastly, we learned to have faith. My son, you will face more tribulations than you could ever expect in this life. They will bring you down and make it seem like you will be unable to get up. But keep searching for the light. Keep trying to stand up. Be strong and believe that there is something to be learned through the darkness. Sometimes it’s less about the beginning or end of the journey and more about the paths we choose to take. If you face any kind of adversity with the expectation that you will learn to become a better person from it, you will succeed in any facet of life, even when it looks like you have nothing left to lose.