Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Rule number one is, don't sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it's all small stuff. ~Robert Eliot

Last Wednesday was like any other evening in our household.  Moments after I got home from work, Superman was out the door for a run, leaving me to deal with Thing 1 and Thing 2 running around rambunctiously and wreaking havoc around the house while I was trying to cook dinner.  They were alternating between trying to "help" me and just helping themselves to anything that would drive me crazy (using a pen to write on the couch, drawing on my table with crayons, spilling an entire tube of go-gurt on the rug).  Needless to say, by the time bedtime came, my last thought as I was shutting out their light was "THANK GOD!"  They were going to bed and I'd have some peace and quiet.

Superman brought some laundry up for us to fold, we turned on the tv to watch our shows, and I popped open my laptop to check my email one last time.   But what I found in my inbox was devastating.  A friend of mine, one of my best childhood friends, had sent me a message letting me know that her son had passed away that afternoon.  I must have re-read the email five times, because I kept thinking I was misunderstanding it.  It wasn't until Superman came and sat next to me did I realize I was crying and quietly saying "oh my god" over and over.  A beautiful, healthy, 16 month old child had suddenly and unexplainably aspirated in his sleep during his afternoon nap.  That poor child.  That poor mother.  That poor family.

Around that time, Thing 1 comes plodding down the hallway crying that his brother had hit him.  Usually my rule is that if you aren't bleeding and nothing is broken, you go back to your room.  But instead I grabbed my child and hugged him and held him while I cried.  Cursing myself for getting angry about spilled yogurt.  Cursing myself for thinking "Thank God" as I put them to bed that night.  Because really, all of the clean carpets and neatly folded laundry in the world isn't worth even one less second with my child.  Yet, in the hum-drum of everyday life, we often forget this.  Death of a child, especially a healthy one, is so unimaginable, unfathomable, that we often take our every days with them for granted.  At least I know I'm guilty of it.

Of all of the poignant and heartfelt things my friend has written about her son since his passing, the thing that made me cry the hardest was this line from a poem she wrote for him:

Next came a bath, where you soaked the whole entire floor,
What I would give right now to clean it up once more.

I don't really subscribe to the everything happens for a reason philosophy.  I can't think of any good reason to take this young child from his loving and doting family.  However, I do believe that good things can come out of even the most terrible of situations.  For my friend and her family, I can't imagine what good will come out of this event for them, however, I'm confident something will.  Eventually.

For me, I know that over the past week as I've dealt with some upsetting news at work and some other bad news (because when it rains it pours), I just keep reminding myself that none of those things really matter in the end.  It's all just small stuff.  Stained carpets and couches and broken lamps can be replaced.  ACs can be repaired.  New jobs can be found.  But you can never, ever, ever, replace your child.

As I sit beside Thing 2, laying in his pajamas in mommy and daddy's bed with sick eyes and a fever of 103<, moaning and groaning, and telling me his head hurts; my heart aches because I can't magically make him feel better.  But, I feel so unbelievably lucky and undeservedly blessed that my baby boy is only momentarily ill.  That overall he is a happy and healthy child.  They both are.  That I have been lucky enough to be their mother for almost 4 years.  And I pray with all of my might that I will be lucky and undeservedly blessed to be their mother for 40 more.


  1. Amber, I cant express to you how blessed this blog entry made me feel. Once again I remember why we became (and still are)friends in the first place!! I couldnt agree with you anymore if I wrote it myself.
    I am the same way though, if one more juice box were to spill on the carpet, I couldve screamed!!!! lol. But you are right, there are other carpets, other juice boxes, more cleaning supplies out there....but there will never be another "JAXON ANDRU BALL"......

    I feel sick that it took me losing my one and only son to make me realize not to sweat the small stuff!!!! But better late than never, right?

    I just want u to know that I love u very much and I will always consider u one of my best and closest friends in the whole world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Thank you Tara. I love you too. Sending much love and peace to your family. What a beautiful loved child he was, and is, and will always be.