Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Happy Birthday Jack

Today we celebrate 10 years of Jack. That’s a lot of years in “Jack” years! Every year since Jack’s 5th birthday I’ve written a birthday letter sharing my thoughts about Jack, about myself, and about this journey we are on. Each year’s letter has its own unique tone, largely a reflection of the events of the past year. As I reflect on this somewhat of a milestone 10th birthday for Jack and think about where we started and where we are today, it’s tough to acknowledge that not much has changed in ten years for Jack. Yet, if I allow myself to stand back and look at the whole picture and not simply focus on Jack’s progress, I recognize that despite all the difficult times and lack of progress over the last ten years, I really am very fortunate. Jack has spent minimal time in the hospital since his discharge from the PICU in 1999; we continue to have good health insurance; we have nurses who are dependable and who truly care about Jack; Jack is happy; I have three other seemingly well adjusted and happy children; I am still employed and I am still married. Yes, I have much to be grateful for. Ten years into this journey and I can finally declare . . . it.is.okay. Not easy, not a life I would have chosen, but definitely okay.

Some of you are probably wondering, who is this person? Ironically, I’ve been told by more than one person this last year that I have “mellowed”. To quote one person, I have “mellowed beyond description”. Initially, I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing. Does my lack of intensity mean that I have given up on Jack? Should I be pushing him harder or doing more? Yet, I can say with confidence that “no” I have not given up on Jack, and “no” there isn’t more that I need to be doing. I finally get that all Jack ever needed from me was to be loved. I recognize that my relentless pursuit of progress was never really about Jack, it was about me. It was about what I wanted, not what Jack needed. I’m done pushing Jack to be anything other than who he is. It’s no longer about where I can lead Jack; it’s about where Jack is leading me. And, oh the places we are going!

Jack and I approach the next decade with the resolve to use what we’ve learned these last ten years to reach out to more parents of medically fragile children through The Willow Tree Foundation, and to reach out to our future physicians through a new project - Touchstones of Compassionate Care. What a privilege it is to make a small difference in this world together with one special little boy by my side. A little boy who leads me well without ever uttering a word.

Finally, to all of you who have been in the trenches with us over the last ten years - keeping Jack healthy and keeping me sane …. THANK YOU! We couldn’t have made it this far without each and every one of you.

In closing, I share with you a short montage - “10 Years of Jack and Mom”. Enjoy!

Oh, just one more thing …. in case there is any doubt, I can still be intense when I need to be. :-)


julie w said...

Have a very Happy birthday Jack and thank you to you and your mom for being an inspiration to us all your smile makes my day.

Rachel Marini said...

Happy Birthday Jack! The big 10~ Woo hoo!!!

I loved watching the montage and seeing the pics from all the way back when he was Gabe's age. What a journey you have made, Jack and Ann. I am so glad you are able to see the silver lining in the clouds that have come your way. Jack is blessed.

Anonymous said...

Happy Happy Birthday Jack!!
Ann - Thank you for sharing. I so wish we lived closer so that we could enjoy these days and really celebrate the proper way. Thank you for another amazing video that truly captures Jack smile and his amazing mom and beautiful family.
Have a wonderful day.
Love you lots

Faith said...

Happy Birthday Jack! You are one extraordinary little boy (or should I say BIG boy- you are pushing double digits now). Thank you for speaking to all of us- we have learned so much from you and your mom- your impact reaches farther than you will ever know!

We hope this year is better than all of the rest!
Jen, Brian & Faith

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Jack! We are so proud of you and your family, and wish you a big day of celebration. Thanks, Ann, for sharing not only Jack's journey, but your own. Sending you lots of love, Erica, David, Lily, Benjamin, and Vivi

Pat Killen said...

Happy Birthday Jack...and Ann!
Love you guys,

Christy said...

Happy Birthday Jack! Wow this year flew by. It seems like just yesterday he turned 9. I always love reading your blog. You are always so real and honest and I love that. I finally just got caught up on the past 5 weeks (Happy late birthday to Hilary).

Love to you all,

Nikki & boys said...

Happy Birthday Jack!! WOW, 10 years old! I loved the montage as well. Thanks Ann for always being so real in your blog. You say everything I want to say! It is so nice to not feel so alone either. I'm glad I have my online community of fellow moms with vent kids. People who really "get" it. Love you guys!

Patricia said...

We are thinking of all of you today and wishing Jack a super day! The video is great and if you don't mind me saying so you looked so young in the early photos. Do you see how our sons have aged us? You've done a beautiful job not just with the video but in being a mother to Jack and never giving up on advocating for him. You are his secret weapon! I truly admire what you do every single day not just for jack but for all of us. Have a great day and enjoy!

A great big hug-
Patricia & Co.

Marissa said...

Happy Birthday Jack!!!

Great video Ann. Thank you for sharing Jack as well as your own heart with all of us.


lesleegp said...

Happy birthday Jack! You are one special young man with one special mom!

Tina said...

Happy Birthday Jack! I hope you have an awesome day! Noel says happy birthday too! Thank you for sharing your strength and sweet spirit with all of us!
Tina and Noel

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Jack!! I love the new video that your mom made to celebrate your birthday. I hope today was a woderful day.
Kristy and Nathan

Susan said...

Happy 10th Birthday Jack! - Ann, as always, you're amazing. Love the montage. As I said on the trach board the love you share is BEAUTIFUL! And you somehow make it look easy and way better than okay!

Dana said...

Wow! Happy Birthday Jack. He is a beautiful kid. You can see the sweetness in his eyes. LOved the video. I am thankful we crossed paths. YOu've taught me tons Ann. May all your birthday wishes come true.

Karen said...

Happy Birthday Sweet Jack! Ann, your entry hit home with me. I too need to pause and remember what this is all about (life, that is). Thank you.

Vicki said...

Happy birthday to Jack! Thank you for sharing your life with all of us...I'm so glad that our paths have crossed!

3boys4tre said...

Happy Birthday Jack!

Hope said...

I hope you don't mind, but I read your blog and love your outlook. Happy Birthday Jack!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Jack!!!! Was it really so long ago that I held that baby boy with the beautiful smile? One of us is getting very old. I hope this year is a great one for you! My love to you and your amazing family.
Kathy Hawley

Dana said...

How is the touchstone project doing? I sent the link to my nephew who is applying to MED. school and waiting on his acceptance.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Jack! What an amazing guy (with an amazing Mom)!!! Please keep usposted on Stephanie and Christian. I don't know much about the LDS faith, but WOW!