A very bright moment last winter was when our local hometown paper wrote a story about our family.
The article centered around Jack's premature birth and the power and good of the internet to connect parents going through similar experiences. When I saw the headline, Turning Hardship Into Hope, I was like, YES! If there's any message I want to send out there, it's that so much good has happened because of Jack. There is hope, even when others can't see it, even when doctors can't see it, and even when I can't see it.
The other message that came out loud and clear is that this Life with Jack community has been my lifesaver.
“A lot of people like to talk about how the Internet takes up so much of our time and blah blah,” she said. “But for parents of kids with medical issues, it’s a lifesaver.”
You really have been there for me all of these years. I remember one very depressing week in Utah where I was struggling with my school material, missing my family so much, and stuck in the seemingly endless winter. I got three packages in the mail on the same day from those I have gotten to know along this blogging journey. People I have never laid eyes on in person, but who took the time to put together care packages. The kindness and encouragement you have always shown kept me going. It keeps us going, still.
The frantic pace of winter turned into glorious spring and I came home. We celebrated Jack's 5th birthday. We got Nelli Jo her wheelchair. I marveled at the boy Jack was becoming. The new things he was doing. The progress he was making.
When you have a kid like Jack, progress is measured differently. And it takes different eyes to see it. 2014 was a banner year for my new eyes. I always talk about the preemie perspective, but seeing Jack as just Jack is a constant thing in my life. Where I step back and survey what is really going on around here. My boy is five years old and he is amazing.
Summer came and we slowed way down. We were deliberate in sticking around these parts. This beautiful place we get to inhabit. We had been separated for far too long. We relished our family time and experienced new and exciting things together.
We went on our first official family vacation to a magical cabin on the most beautiful lake in Montana. It felt so very monumental to me. Something I only dreamed could occur when Jack was so new and so fragile. The photos from that trip are among my most treasured possessions.
More fun things from summer: Jack finding his love for boat rides. Wind blowing through his hair. Throwing rocks into the water. Waiting and watching for the big splashes. Walks around and around our loop. Sitting on the front porch. Greeting each car that flies by. Summer was the best.
This fall things got very quiet. I had a light load on the school front. Jack began his last year of preschool. We enjoyed our little routine. I became very intentional on reconnecting with friends who I did not get to see much at all while I was down in Utah. I had a spectacular little birthday party in our backyard on a warm September evening with Jon as chef.
In November, Jon and I were able to take a vacation to the warm and sandy beaches of Florida. I did nothing but get vitamin D. We dreamed about taking Jack to a warm beach someday. Wheels began to turn. We think he would love it.
And now it's past Christmas and the snow is deep and it's freezing cold. A New Year is upon us. Time keeps going and we keep trying to make this life work best for our boy. We have big things coming up. Lots of doctors appointments. A new school come fall.
Our boy continues to teach us the most important lessons about what matters and what doesn't. As always happens, I am sure we will stumble and not do things perfectly, but I feel like we are a team.
2014, you've been a good one.