Whenever I am asked, either in person or on a form, about when Kiran hit certain milestones, I have to pause. First of all, the answers aren’t simple. He started out in his life hitting some milestones, like rolling from stomach to back, at “normal” times. But we also saw some of these milestone actions disappear. Regression occurred. And with other milestones – like sitting up, for instance – it’s kinda like I need to put an asterisk and a note. Kiran still can’t independently pull himself into a sitting position, and you still can’t trust him to maintain that position for a long period of time.
But mostly, I just chose to stop keeping track. As he wasn’t hitting milestone after milestone and the months – and now, years – passed….for my own sanity, I just chose to not pay attention. To not fret about the dates he hit this milestone or that one – to not try to remind myself of all of the ones he continues to be nowhere close to hitting. Or may never hit.
You know – funny thing about preschool pickup – it has a way of slapping you in the face with two really big milestones Kiran has yet to hit. Every single day, those preschoolers come running out of the building yelling “Mommy!” or “Daddy!” and flinging themselves at their parents. And every day, I walk up and meet one of the associates at the door, so I can take over pushing Kiran’s wheelchair and ask how his day went.
And truly, I cry tears of joy when I see other kids – especially other heart warriors or other medical warriors who I know are working harder or have worked for so long to reach milestones – when I see them hit those milestones. But it also breaks my heart just a little, every time.
The grief is ongoing. The journey is hard. There are days preschool pickup almost breaks me. There are days seeing others hit milestones makes me more jealous than happy for them. It is sometimes ugly and dark and just really difficult.
But also, there is one milestone – only one – I put in my calendar so I can remember it every single year. On March 8, 2016, Kiran laughed – REALLY laughed – for the first time.
I had no idea then that this would be such a perfect milestone to document. That laughter is one of the defining characteristics of this amazing little boy. That he would not only bring me so much joy, but that he, himself, would just embody joy.
He is the reason I am always able to claw my way out of the dark times.