Wednesday, June 5, 2024

My Special Boy: Poetry and A True Story

Last year, I wrote this poem for my son. If you don't know his amazing story, search through my blog for Gryphon, you'll find it all. I had originally submitted this poem to publishers across the country, but none of them wanted it, so I decided to post it here on my blog so that it could be read and remembered forever.

The incubator is empty now, 
but still the relics, 
pictures of Gods wrapped in hospital bags, 
and taped to the windows of the crib, 
now rest in our temple's treasury, 
a link to both our past and present. 
But it would sometimes be a fallacy to romanticize our family, 
for there was little poetry about the C-Section, 
the constant and daily fear of finding an empty bed, 
the dark struggles through the labyrinths of a premature birth, 
and a life of obstacles ahead, 
but you, my little Theseus, braved the Minotaur always.

With each passing day, the terrors of goodbye faded into heaven's brightening light.
Only a few drops of milk, they said, but you drank the whole bottle.
You would need help breathing, they predicted, but you threw off the ventilator.
Not even a brain bleed could outdo the Gods,
or shake the resilience of a boy determined to live.
The worst chances the doctors gave you,
but the Gods overruled.
You were not simply another newborn, 
for your life has defined and changed those of everyone around you.

We were so happy when we were able to take you home.
Then, a new set of hardships.
I had to learn to be an exceptional father for a special needs son,
it was a new set of Labours all their own.
Each day I gave all my strength to support you,
strapping your oxygen tank and heart monitor to my back,
and hanging you and your car seat over my arm,
as I took you to the doctor on a regular basis,
to give you the best possible chances of growing stronger.
Something few fathers will endure,
but my love for you, 
and the Gods' love for us,
was the muscle of my heart,
and of mind and body, 
that made me determined to never ever give up on you.

By the year, you excelled,
you did everything the doctors said you wouldn't,
you let nothing stand in your way, 
the strongest person I have ever known,
my trust in a bright future for our family,
and all the proof I need of Higher Powers.

I saw you from the beginning,
a tiny, 24-week baby flailing about,
now I attend your rites of puberty,
as you laugh at the sun on your face,
run and play with your dogs and classmates,
and dive into the banquet tables. 

You may not talk a lot,
or read the books that most children do in school,
your disabilities may be evident,
yet, they are not defining.
Even after your surgery on both legs,
you stood up out of the wheelchair the next day and climbed the stairs.
You have nothing but strength and an undying love for life,
though you could find so many reasons to hate it.
You are a lesson to all the world.

How could I not be overprotective of you, as so many accuse?
You're my little boy who I could have once lost,
and now I can make sure never again.
The world does not get you down,
and yet, I will protect you from it.
You're my first choice for a friend at breakfast, lunch or dinner,
the one I like to travel with and talk about my day to.
I know you love me so much,
for you walk the halls, calling my name when I'm not there.

I held you first when you came out of the hospital,
we spent each day on the couch, getting to know one another,
and yet, the more time that passed, the more we realized we are alike.
You once wore a very tiny shirt that read, "Daddy Is My Hero,"
and yet it now hangs on my office wall, too small for you.
But there was always one thing I could never save us all from,
and that is the unyielding passing of time.

There will come a day when daddy ages, passes, and can't come for you anymore.
I won't be there for kisses, cuddles, and playtime.
You will have to go without your favorite person in the world.
But the relics will still be in the treasury to remind you of your destiny,
and that you are never alone.