This morning, as I was pulling up Idan’s shorts, he noticed the scar on his leg. He touched it, furrowed his brows, and — struggling to find words — asked me, “what’s that?” For the past several months, he has been finding his voice. Putting sounds together to make words, stringing words together to make sentences, but I was in no way prepared for this question. Not yet, at least.
I looked in his eyes and my heart broke, knowing full well what that scar symbolizes and how it got there, but not knowing if or how to explain it to him. Maintaining my composure, I responded, “When you were little,” —when you were little?! —“you spent some time in a hospital. That scar is from an IV tube, and that IV tube helped save your life. There was a pesky teeny tiny fungus that got caught in your lungs, and medicine was delivered to you through this IV, and it helped the fungus go away. This was how we learned you had Hyper IgM.”
Who knew what he would do with this information, or how he would (or even could) process it? Idan peered back down at the scar and then looked up at me and said, “Doctor Yu?” Astonished, I responded, “Yes, that is where we first met Dr. Yu.” Idan grinned from ear to ear, and reached both arms up toward me, pulling me into a delicious hug and planting a sweet kiss on my cheek. If there’s anything that I remember with fondness about that hospital stay over a year ago, it was that, with all our efforts to entertain Idan while strapped to a ventilator and restrained to a hospital bed, Idan was smiling and playing and comforting us. Sitting there in his warm little embrace, once again he was comforting me, assuring me that he was okay now, and that he was grateful.
I know this will only be the first of many questions and conversations about his time in the ICU, the bone marrow transplant, and everything since, and undoubtedly the answers and explanations will be more complicated. How does a little boy process this information, and for that matter, how does anyone process the information that their very life once hung in the balance? But I hope, just as Idan found the right words to ask me this morning, we will find the right words to tell him.
Well, it’s official. Idan will wake up on Sunday morning a 2 year-old.
With everything we’ve been through lately, anniversaries and milestones are reminders to stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and reflect. Mostly, we feel extraordinarily thankful. Regardless of the time we’ve “lost,” we’ve gained so much along the way.
Idan is truly a spectacular person who is at once bashful and yet can entertain a room of people. He is strong-willed, and focuses intently even while playing. And yet, on a dime, his concentration can be broken into a bout of silliness, songs and dance.
It is therefore somewhat surprising that he is only now turning two. And it is even more surprising how someone who has been in your life for such a short time can completely take it over, give it new meaning, shape and redefine you so that you are a better person for it. Not even two years old, and he has already changed the course of our lives.
Idan, my hero, here is my birthday wish for you: May you continue to always bring sunshine into a room. May the sun always shine on you, and may you live another 120 (or more!) years with the best of health, happiness, and goodness.