My Sweet Coop,
I’m writing this so that someday you can read it and understand. And, if we’re being honest, maybe I’m writing it a little bit so that someday I can look back and understand, too.
Here’s the thing…lately I often find myself wondering how much of this story is too much. How much of it is mine to share, versus how much of it is yours to share one day.
If I’m being honest, I’ve spent time feeling guilty for sharing your story, wondering if when you grow up, you won’t have wanted it out there. But then today, as I was driving with you asleep in the back, I heard something that made me realize I’m doing the right thing.
I was listening to a podcast from one of my favorite authors, Glennon. Recently, she said, her son had come to her and her wife, Abby, and had told them he was gay. A few days later, he told his dad, Craig, the same. Later, when Glennon, Abby and Craig were talking, Craig said something that knocked the wind out of me, that gave me full body chills. He said something along the lines of,
“I have to wonder how much of you and Abby owning who you are gave him the courage to own who he is.”
And Coop, baby, that’s all I want for you. I want you to own the hell out of who you are. In the past decade, I’ve been working on doing the same. I own my journey, my mistakes, my path. And this story that is unfolding now…this story has been part of that. This is our story, too.
When I think back to the day that your dad and I got your diagnosis, what I still feel the most deeply isn’t the actual diagnosis. It’s the fact that afterwards, after life-changing news, we were expected to stand up, gather ourselves, and walk back through that same waiting room where we’d been sitting hours earlier, holding hope. The moment we stood up to do so, I’d have preferred a hole to open in the floor and swallow us instead.
Anything seemed more manageable than putting one foot in front of the other, walking past those other parents, so that someone else could enter that same room and receive news of their own. Anything seemed more doable than holding myself together until I made it to the car, until I could sit there in the stillness, smelling your sweet baby smell, and sobbing into you with all my might.
Anything seemed more doable than doing anything at all.
Sweet boy, I hope that as you grow up, you recognize that sharing your/my/our story is my way of trying to save someone else from that walk through the waiting room, save them from that numbness. Realistically, I know that sometimes, most times, I won’t be able to save them. But I will be able to join them in that walk, that numbness, that darkness. I’ll be able to join them until they realize there’s a light at the end.
This story has already brought us together with so many families on the same path, those who walked it before us and those who started walking a little later. You’ve already been that light at the end for many people, Coop, and I hope that as you continue to grow, you step into that even more. I hope you continue to own the hell out of who you are, because who you are is someone I would never change one thing about.
Love you sweet boy,