Last night, I took some time to browse through the latest Argos catalogue. Brendan Bjorn’s 14th birthday is coming up quickly on October 1st and there is something you should know about finding a suitable gift for a child such as my angel: It can bring up carefully concealed emotions, hidden at least since the last birthday or Christmas.
I usually enjoy daydreaming as I look through a catalogue – this is what I’d buy to make a cozy, homely sitting room; that is what I’d buy to have a well-equipped kitchen. But last night, as I began the often elusive search for the perfect gift for Brendan Bjorn, I found myself in tears.
He is turning 14 years old and I am still looking in the pre-school section of toys.
You would think, after all these years on this journey with my precious son, I’d be well used to this search. I’ve long given up the thought of age-appropriate toys or games. The idea of soccer balls or a computer or a bicycle are long gone. But the past few years have been different. He’s lost his ability to extend his arms with intent to trigger a simple toy to make its music play or its lights entertain him. It has been nothing short of heartbreaking to watch him lose this ability. I don’t know if he’ll regain those abilities after his spinal fusion. I hope so. God how I hope so!
I continued to turn the pages, searching for that one perfect toy. I didn’t find it. I searched, cried, and continued searching. He has enough stuffed toys. He has plenty of decorative lights to surround his bedside. He has his TV and DVDs that keep him entertained and happy.
The fact is not lost on me that celebrating his birthday is actually more for me and his brother Declan than it is for him. It’s the two of us who want to celebrate this milestone for Brendan, on his behalf…and so we will. There most likely won’t be any toys this year – a fact Declan and I simply have to understand and accept. It’s part of this unique and often challenging journey.
Sometimes, toys can bring tears.
I’ve decided instead to get a bunch of brightly coloured foil balloons to place at the foot of his medical bed. Brendan LOVES balloons! I’ll get a small cake, put candles on it and we’ll sing Happy Birthday to him. There will be loads of love and kisses…and undoubtedly, there will be some tears.