There are some days you never forget, try as you might. One of mine was in January 1992 when my obstetrician sat me down to say he thought my baby had failed to thrive, and there was a concern I might lose him.
That was confusing to someone as big as a Peter Pan bus who still had two months to go before birth. What do you mean, lose him? I said. That’s not an option here.
I had taken care of myself and I willed my son to be OK. On March 28 at 4:21 a.m., that poor weak little baby arrived, weighing in at a strapping 8 pounds and 14 ounces. He was a golden child who had already snagged my heart.
Later, he was a star athlete and a good student. As time went on, as in anyone’s life, there were issues to face but anything that came his way he handled.
Fast forward, for the sake of the story, to another key moment … a sunny summer day four years ago. I was looking at a Chinese menu after swimming all afternoon when my then 15-year-old took off on his bike to meet up with some friends before dinner.
I remember waffling over whether to order Mu Shu Chicken when I heard the screech of brakes outside the house, and then the thud as my son and his crumpled bike flew high into the air. Then there were the screams of witnesses, the wail of ambulances, me rushing down the driveway and out into traffic, promising he would be OK, even though I feared it was a lie.
Then months and years of recovery after being hit by a person who was eating and driving at the same time.
So, my son has cheated death a few times in his young life, as an infant, and a young man. He is made of strong stuff. Most teens drive their parents to drink with their angst and rebellion, and, believe me, he’s no different in that respect.
But something changes as a child when you face your own mortality. You approach life in a different way.
Tonight, on the eve of my son’s 19th birthday, my mind travels back to his very first, in those precious new minutes of life. I’d heard new moms say they weren’t quite sure what to make of their newborns. But when I laid eyes on mine, I felt I’d known him forever; it was love at first sight.
I knew in that moment that child would be special. And I was right.