I pulled my chair in towards the table and asked Eve, “What was your favorite part of your day today?” “School!” she responded with great enthusiasm. Keeping the children engaged at the dinner table is the only way to keep them there. We’ve worked hard on making meal times happy. Braden used to rail at them. We’ve gotten to a place where he is comfortable trying to use silverware and accepting of when those attempts often fail. I moved on, “What was yours Braden?” “Right now,” he responded. My whole heart smiled at the beauty in that statement. Every day we strive to make all three of our children feel just how loved they are, how special, appreciated, and amazing. We want them to feel a sense of belonging. This is their place, their safe place, their home. How thankful I feel that these small people are growing and learning that while life may be tough, they will always have us to be there for them.
Later that night, I laid my head down and quicker than a blink the thought popped into my mind, “What will you do when his place at the table is empty?” The thought wasn’t completely unexpected. I had volunteered at lunch to watch the children so that the amazing teacher got a well deserved lunch off. I turned my head for a moment to make sure that all were accounted for and all was well, but when I turned back to look at my son…my sweet boy…he wasn’t breathing. “Are you ok?” I ask to see if he could speak. He shook his head no. That’s when motion started. I wrapped my arms around his stomach and pulled him up out of his chair eliciting vomit. For the love of vomit. At least there was movement of fluid. He covered half of his lunch in it. Then he hit the floor with some more and breathing commenced. That’s the way it is with Braden. One minute he is just fine and the next everything is going really really wrong. When people ask how long Braden is expected to live, I really just don’t know what to say. All it will take is one missed moment where he can’t breathe and we will have one less seat at the dinner table. Living with that uncertainty is unnerving. It is why we don’t wait. It is why we do everything right now. It’s easy to say we should live as if each day is our last, but that simply isn’t practical. So, instead we live each day as if it counts. We make sure to sit down with each child and connect with them. We don’t let the day pass without meaningful moments. So, what will I do when there is one less member at our table? I have no idea. All I know is that I hope that it doesn’t happen for a very very long time.