This afternoon, C.T. comes to the back door from outside. He is brave, but visibly shaking.
Mommy, I think I just got stung by a hornet.
A small welt has formed on his forearm. I ask him how he feels, if he's certain it was some sort of sting. He says he feels shaky and yes, he is sure. It was a hornet or a wasp. He had to climb the next door neighbor's backyard fence because he couldn't figure out how to open their gate (and because he was told to stay in the back where I could see him). I mix some baking soda and water to help with any swelling or pain and tell him everything is going to be okay, that we'll watch for a reaction. He calms quickly, feeling safe and cared for. It is obvious he is proud that he didn't cry or panic, that he got over that fence. We sit and relax, snuggle on the couch, his arm horizontal, to be certain the applied treatment stays in place. He keeps asking me if his tongue is swollen or has turned a different color,... rumors he has heard about allergic reactions.
At age six, it is his first bee sting.
They call me from the car, on their way home, this evening. C.T. had reeled in his first fish tonight. He is so proud, talking over his dad, claiming it was a really difficult tug-of-war with this tiny bass.
This is just a single day, a couple examples, of C.T.'s recent firsts. Thousands of firsts, new experiences, challenges faced, over the course of his six and a half years.
My awe and delight in C.T.'s accomplishments and new experiences is painfully overshadowed by the fact that Zachary had so few, will never have more. He never had the chance to feel the anticipation of a new adventure, the pride at having worked hard and attained a goal. Not even the warmth of the sun, directly on his skin.
And B.W. never had any experiences at all.
As their mother, I have missed out on just about everything with two of my three boys. Almost all of their firsts and experiences taken away from our family. How am I supposed to be okay with that? Why must we experience C.T.'s life in triplicate, always mourning what would have been, and twice over? Will the unintended pressure to do and be everything (that his brothers could not do or be for themselves) crush our only living child?