Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Michael's high school graduation

Michael’s high school graduation would be next week. I can only imagine what he would look like in his cap and gown and how excited he would be for this grand event in his life. I want to honor Michael, celebrating his spirit that surrounds this graduation season, by sharing more about him in the next couple blogs. I hope they make you smile and give you many reasons to embrace life more fully. Join me now as I walk down memory lane, celebrating the love as well as the hope Michael represents.

Michael cried for the first two years of his life. He was a colicky baby and thought sleeping wasn’t all that necessary. I do believe that his complicated sleep schedule was created in part by some advice we received from a hospital doctor after Michael’s birth. He instructed us to wake him every two hours to feed him because he was born five weeks premature and weighed only four pounds. All I am going to say about that is I should have listened to all the Mothers who told me to never wake a sleeping baby!

From colic he moved to a really fun phase in which he held his breath until he passed out whenever he was very mad or very sad. From there he went on to a biting phase which involved most of the neighbor kids and day care kids. Thankfully all this fun ended around age four. Through it all the one thing he always had going for him was that he was the cutest little boy in town. His sweet smile could melt hearts dissolving any amount of anger and frustration. One glance into his eyes and of his long eye lashes helped us ignore our sleep deprivation because he woke up at 5am most mornings. He truly loved his pacifier “Nukie” and honestly so did we because Nukie helped him not cry so much. But one day while riding in the car in his car seat he learned that he could spit Nukie out hitting Dad in the back of the head. Mysteriously a few days later, Nukie got lost at a parade.

Michael absolutely loved being outside. He usually had on his Barney hat and sun glasses because he thought the sun was too bright. Michael was boy in and out with a love for Matchbox cars, Tonka toys, John Deere tractors, bikes, mud puddles and Leggos. When Michael started pre-school his teacher said he was the one with the most friends; a statement that was very often spoke. When he started playing T-ball everyone said he was the fastest runner on the team but he was definitely the smallest. He thought it was absolutely necessary to slide into every base when he got a hit even though his t-shirt went all the way down past his knees and his batting helmet swayed back and forth because it was too big for his little head.

Michael loved to go camping, actually all of us did. We bought our first pop up camper and started camping when Michael was still a baby. He was always the first one up in the campground and accompanied by his Dad had it “all checked out” before most of us were even awake. Summer vacations at Cass Lake Lodge were another one of Michael’s favorites. He loved to play in the sand on the beach, swim with his blow up tire tube, go fishing or tubing with the boat, build a campfire, and play in the lodge arcade eating candy and drinking pop.

When Michael was diagnosed with SIOD in 1999 we slowly had to change the way we did the things Michael loved. Surrounded by the love and support of family and friends we were able to keep doing them even though Michael eventually couldn’t walk and had to transition into a wheel chair. At some point we made a decision that SIOD would not define us, nor would it own us. We were still going to be a family in spite of this rare syndrome and all of its challenges. As Michael’s Mother I thought I was going to be the one teaching him about life but in the end he was the one who taught me. In spirit, he still does providing a graduation degree beyond this life for both of us.

While preparing for Michael’s funeral, our daughter Jessica found this quote by Abraham Lincoln, “And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” There was certainly a lot of life packed into those thirteen years. That quote has served as a guiding light in our journey without our sweet smiling Michael.

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