April is a strange month. This April we had twenty-two inches of snow in less than two days. April is full of birthdays, memories, and taxes. April is the time when we pay up. I lost two grandparents in April. On April 27, 2002, I was the auditory witness to a suicide and watched the ensuing crime scene develop and fade into the night not knowing 365 days later I would be going into labor. I nearly lost my son twice in April, once before he turned three, and once in the labor and delivery room when the doctor urged my c-section by saying “You can push this baby out, but he won’t be alive when he get’s here!”
The doctor got no argument from me and wouldn’t have anyway as I was pretty done with pushing after 90 minutes of it. My mother, my first niece, my fifth niece, and my first baby were all born in April. I was born in April, I began in April.
April is the center of spring and I spent the first twenty seven days of April, 2003 on “limited activity” rest off of work waiting for Liam. On the 27th, I checked into the hospital to be induced and he came the evening of the 28th, five days after my 29th birthday. We were so young and so new ten years ago. Mother and son were born and began in April.
Ten years elapsed so fast and yet so much happened in that decade. Two wars, so many tragedies, so many losses, so many births and beginnings. I am not the same person I was ten years and four months ago, before I’d heard the acronym “CHD.” CHD was my draft card for this war, and for the past ten years I battled for Liam, battled against CHD, battled for hope. I think I’m ready to deescalate my own war efforts. I will always fight for Liam, always. Yet, if the past ten years have taught me anything at all, it is humility. I need to choose my battles.
I cannot save the world. It’s not my job to save the whole world. It’s my job to raise my children, to be part of my family, to hold a job, and to be myself. I can only do so much, and now I’m like the eraser on the end of a pencil, I’m nearly at my nub. I’m worn out and I’m tired – tired of being angry, outraged, sad, worried, and mostly tired of being scared. I’m tired of trying so hard to move a mountain that never seems to budge, though I know it has – just a little. I know I’ve made a difference, but the effort seems to have taken more from me than I’ve made of it.
Ten years, I’ve been doing this. Fundraising, awareness raising, child raising. I only get a few more years of the child raising . . . far too soon my children will be fully raised. These moments are precious and fleeting. No offense to Sheryl Sandburg, but it’s time for me, after ten years, to lean out from my no-holds-bared efforts against CHD and lean into my children and my family before I look up one day and realize they’ve grown and flown away from me. It’s time for me to be all that I can be, and all I can be is more than just CHD.
There is no justice and will never be. No one “did” this to my child, he was born this way. To quote Howard Jones, “No one ever is to blame.” I love that song. All my anger about the injustice of Liam’s battle inspired me take on a battle far bigger than either of us. Ten years has truly humbled me. I am worn but I am wiser for it.
So as a new April comes and goes, I am at a crossroads of memory and potential, of past and present. This rocky path has brought me to my knees and I’m ready to leave it. I’m ready to give up ever finding justice and instead I will seek grace. I know in my heart that the gracious path will be no less treacherous, no less difficult, but it is my sincere hope that it leads me farther than anger and fear have driven me in the past decade. If there is one lesson I want to teach both of my children it is that where you come from doesn’t determine where you will go, just how hard you have to work to get there.
I was born in April, I begin again in April.