I glared at them through glazed and dull eyes. Oh really. Infinity stretched ahead of me, filled with nappies, screaming, cabbage leaves (don’t ask) and snatched sleep.
Fourteen years down the line, I now know what they mean. The years whizzed by. I visited a five-day old baby last week and was just about to say, ‘Ahh, make the most of it….’ but I held my tongue. Instead, I stared in awe at the tiny bundle, stunned that The Teenager had once been that size.
I remember all the firsts. The first step (far, far too soon), the first word (‘food’), the first day at nursery, at primary, at secondary. The first time he stayed over at a friend’s house. The first time he made a lego kit by himself.
The sadness is, I never knew when the endings would be. The last time he held my hand crossing the road, or the last time he wanted a colouring-in book. We don’t know until time passes and we realise they took place some time ago.
Excuse me for being a touch maudlin. I guess I’m just a bit angry that a lot of ‘last times’ took place during the turmoil of the MS diagnosis. Whether I liked it or not, The Teenager had to come to terms with a parent who has a long-term illness and with his dad living 140 miles away.
Don’t get me wrong, I never put an unacceptable responsibility on too-young shoulders. I strove to maintain our normal routine, even when it was beyond-exhausting. But inevitably life changed, and so suddenly. Gone was the parent with boundless energy, who would go on long day trips, packing the car up and heading off. Gone was the spontaneity, the feeling that yeah, we can do that, why not?
Instead, life was filled with, ‘not now’, ‘maybe tomorrow’. I’ve never lost sight of him though. He is central in everything I do, hence the Campath treatment. Who cares about the potential side effects when it can keep me on my feet?
Perhaps instead of thinking remorsefully about the ‘last times’, I should concentrate on the new experiences The Teenager has. The new ‘firsts’. First razor, first girlfriend, first rain-sodden festival he goes to. Hang on, did I just say first girlfriend? Hmmm…..