By Cathy Jameson
We’ve had some stellar sunny days lately. The weather that slams the nation around us seems to bypass my rural town as we peel a layer of winter clothing every few weeks. I’m thankful that our winter is mild as I can see my son thriving in the late afternoon sunshine in our backyard. Ronan still has mountains to climb to be 100% healthy, but these rays of light that shine in his eyes keep my optimistic mind open. I need this bright sunshine to help turn around some deep-seated feelings I’ve had a hard time letting go.
I’ve researched so much in the last 3½ years but none of it will be published formally. I’m imagining that the hours I’ve spent reading, writing and looking for answers could equal a highly regarded degree, certificate or license. I’ve learned that children are not as precious in certain medical communities as I once thought. I’ve learned that I no longer trust anyone despite the good nature most people have. I’ve stumbled upon research that sickens my entire being when it comes to “safe” and “healthy” practices aimed at children. I have learned to question authority and throw naïveté out the window. I’ve changed my entire outlook on life because of the unfortunate mystery that befalls my son. The worst thing that has happened is that I’ve lost hours of playtime with my children due to the powerful desire to find more answers.
Ronan just turned five in December and I thought I’d cry that day since I still look at the things he can’t do. I see a child that still can’t hold a crayon the right way, a son who can’t say, “I love you, Daddy,” a brother who doesn’t care if his siblings take away all his toys and a boy who can only cry when Mommy isn’t responding to his immediate and unknown need. Since I love birthdays, and we even celebrate half birthdays, I had to turn my anxiety into something fruitful. Instead of fearing Ronan’s birthday, I prayed that I’d see the positive side of Ronan’s issues.
When Ronan succumbed to his vaccine injury, my son went from happy, normal and chatty with a few words to bloated, aloof and non-verbal. Interestingly though, now I see that Ronan is making a very slight comeback. It’s only through a lot of his hard work that his behavior and skills have started to turn around. It’s a lot of hard work on my part too, but one job that I’m happy to take on since I see the amazing effects. Ronan is trying to communicate and has learned at least two sign language signs a week for the last month. He uses eight of them consistently both at school and home! Following directions and making intense eye contact is another moment to celebrate in this last month too. The ‘jump-for-joy’ moments are increasing and so is my hope for Ronan’s recovery.
The most wonderful moment that opened my eyes to a better future for Ronan happened about 3 weeks ago. I thought it was a fluke, but since I’ve seen it happen 5 more times, appropriately and with those chocolate brown eyes dancing, I knew I saw a real and hopeful boy emerging. What I witnessed made me melt so quickly! I got giddy looking at this boy who used to sit on a couch and moan all day instead of playing. I got a part of my child back and I want to whole world to know!
Here’s what happened. Ronan loves to hug us now which was a breakthrough that happened in the late fall. We’ve always been a lovey-snuggly family with our children so stopping mid-stride just for a hug or to quickly blow someone a kiss is not unusual. What was unusual, unexpected, but most welcomed was the kiss that I caught from Ronan at bedtime one night. My husband was chucking kids in bed while I cleaned up from the day’s events. Ronan usually wrestles Steve hoping to get one more minute of playtime in before lights out. I was in the kitchen area across the hallway where Steve said to Ronan, “Say good night to Mommy.” Well, of course we’re still waiting for those wonderful words to spill out of Ronan’s mouth, so I yelled out, “I love you, Ronan.” I usually blow a kiss to the kids if I’m not right next to them, but this time, I got to catch the kiss! Ronan looked at me while on Steve’s shoulder, put his little hand on his mouth and threw me a kiss. I couldn’t believe it! He was imitating what we all do; he was meaningfully using a gesture that is an every-day occurrence in our home. My son told me something I’ve been waiting a long time to hear—while I still long for his words, Ronan used his hands and his heart to show me he loves me. You couldn’t ask for a better moment.
Ronan still has his bad days, still catches those nagging bugs from his schoolmates that bring us days of regression, but now, I am able to think more positively about this journey of recovery. It’s not just Ronan who needs to recover. I need all the healing I can get from the last few years of lost time, health and hope. Gestures of kindness, full of love and dreams that one day will come true fill my mind as I watch my growing 5-year old attack life. He’s got his gloves on for once, fighting to rejoin our family and this world he was brought into.
I know that we both still have a long road ahead of us, but at least we can walk together, hand in hand, throwing each other kisses as we go.
Cathy Jameson has 4½ children. She and her husband are praying for Ronan’s recovery to happen sooner than later as they welcome another child in May. Don’t worry, this baby will NOT be receiving ANY vaccines!