For most of my life, I wanted to be extraordinary in these areas too. To be fair, I am quite privileged: I am a white, educated, married, healthy (sometimes), Christian, American woman and mother. Also, I have health insurance. But I was fairly average for a privileged woman, always falling within normal ranges.
Then, the year 2012 happened. Weston happened. 2012 kicked me out of the average club and into the club no parent ever wants to join. I became the exception to the rule, the statistical anomaly.
I was initiated into the bereaved parents club because I, and then Weston, defied one medical average after another. It certainly was not the extraordinariness I had wished for.
First, hospital bed rest. From the hospital maternal-fetal medicine specialist: "We only see cases like yours once or twice a year. There is only a one in 2,000-3,000 chance of a pregnant woman developing this condition. It happens more to women who use cocaine." For the record, I have never touched cocaine.
Then, the NICU. There is nothing average about the NICU and watching your baby suffer.
Then, I held my son as he took his last breath: my most extraordinary of extraordinary tragedies.
Afterwards: "We don't know why Weston died. His body just shut down."
Statistics ceased to have meaning. Our family had defied them too many times, as had my new friends' children. Freak accidents and stillbirth and cancer and SIDS became the norm.
Time went on, and I stopped trying to win the Grief Olympics. I have survived the death of my child, and the other tragedies of my life are distant second, third, and so on. However, those other tragedies and struggles I and all of humanity face are no less legitimate simply because they might not be as bad as losing a child.
Take this accident, for example. It could have been so much worse, and I would take on this pain for the rest of my life over losing a child. But. Oh, it hurts, physically and emotionally.
I got some difficult news today. The three broken bones are healed, and I am cleared for movement and more aggressive therapy. However, according to the doctors it is going to hurt like hell. I am looking at six MONTHS of therapy. The splint has to come off, which, so far, has greatly increased the pain level. I need pain management injections, and I have to increase the narcotics. I still cannot take care of Will for at least 5-7 more weeks.
When I got home, without my protective splint, I saw that too-familiar sad/scared/confused look in Caroline's eye. She knows I'm in pain and that she has to be careful around me...again. Will has not gained a single ounce in over a month.
The kicker from today: "Your pain/poor range of motion/need for six more months of therapy is not normal. This does not happen often, and we don't know why." Once again, I'm the exception. Lucky me.
And then (this made me smile): "I'm so sorry this has happened to you. You're so normal and sweet."
There it is: why do bad things happen to good people? I have stopped asking that question, but it remains a universal mystery. I have prayed and reflected often lately and have discovered some profound spiritual truths related to my current physical pain. That is and has to be enough for now.
And my sweet girl introduced our babysitter to Weston today. Overheard from the other room:
Caroline:...And we were outside talking to the neighbor, and then we saw a huge rainbow!
R: Oh, rainbows are so pretty!
C: Do you know Weston?
C: Well, he died. [Pause] He's my brother.
Yes, he is her brother, and he is extraordinary.