Found happy

by arianne

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We’ve had so many milestones around here, I could really get used to seeing nothing but progress.  Having a normal, fun birthday party, and having an effortless start to Kindergarten last week, I went into Friday’s 6th birthday celebration with an open mind.  I knew that whatever happened with the party–if it was fun or normal or if it was meltdowns and anxiety–it was ok because we had the gift of last week.  Well, the party went well, and while I won’t say it was relaxed, once we finally got to the opening of the presents, the anxiety left the room and fun times entered.

But the biggest thing that I’m stunned about today, is looking through my pictures of Charlie from the party. There was a time when I did not have the luxury of too many great shots to chose from.  When Charlie was a baby we didn’t have a digital camera.  But as Charlie got older, and began to regress further and further into the darkness, we stopped taking photos alltogether.

It wasn’t a conscious thing–we didn’t really even notice that we had stopped.  Any time I’d see pictures of that time period, what we call “when Charlie was really severe”, because it’s all a blur otherwise, they give me this ugly feeling in my stomach.  Any pictures I have of that time show a child that I don’t know any more.  A boy that no longer lives here.  Thankfully, because the real boy returned home and took that lost boy’s place.  Many of the photos of that time looked like this:

And that may just look like a regular baby to you, and but this is how his face always looked.  At least, when he wasn’t screaming.  We didn’t have the constant giggling and smiling that most babies give.  And this is right before things started to get really bad, and after this time there’s a huge void in my photos collection.  I have hardly any of the next couple years, and those I have are too painful for me to look at still.  His face always full of angst, eyes somewhere far off.  He was so lost.  And we had no idea if we’d ever find him.

So today as we had a great party, and no one even screamed during the singing of the happy birthday, I couldn’t help but watch the whole thing in slow motion.  Amazed at how far this precious little man has come.  The photo at the top of this post is how he looks now.

Engaged, smiling, connected, fulfilled.  Happy.

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