To my beautiful, strong, amazing, heart of gold, old soul of a son, I write to you on the first day of this New Year the tellings of my heart.
Seven years ago on a snowy day in a little town called Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Germany, God gave me the greatest two gifts any woman could ever ask for. He gave me the miracle of a perfect son and the greatest honor of my life, being your mother. From the moment they placed you in my arms, my life changed forever. I had every intention of staying in the army and going to join my "family" and "Batttles" down range in Iraq to fulfill my duties as a combat medic until that single moment. I held you in my arms, looked at your beautiful, tiny face and knew, I could and would never leave you for anything in this world. Three months later I got out of the army and began the most rewarding journey of my life, being a full time, stay at home mother. I have never since looked back or regretted that decision and I never will.
I wish that in this letter I could make you so many promises...
On Jan 3, 2014, we officially learned you were indeed "sick" with some type of disease. On Jan 13, 2014 we learned that you indeed had a very progressive and aggressive form of muscular dystrophy. A year later we are still fighting every day for an answer and a specific diagnosis for you in hopes of one day a treatment or cure. In that time, I've watched you tire, endure so many medical labs, tests and procedures. I've seen you go under twice and be taken away from me. In those moments it felt like my heart had been ripped out and I could no longer protect you from danger. I have never felt so vulnerable in all my life until this past year. My life hasn't ever been easy or handed over on a silver plate. I've had many struggles, battles, hardships and heart aches, but this battle, my precious son, is the absolute worst I have ever had to or could ever imagine enduring. As a mother, all we want is for our children to thrive, be healthy and happy and live long, successful lives. To be able to see them grow up, graduate, go off to college, chase their dreams, find love and a spouse and have their own beautiful family to love. When the life you imagine for your child, the life everyone deserves is suddenly ripped away, it's like no other pain imaginable and is indescribable. This disease is a slow, debilitating process that will take all the things away from you that you once worked so hard to achieve. As a mom, you treasure those firsts for your baby, especially your first baby for those of you who have more than one child. The first time they smile, roll over, sit up, crawl, reach out for you, eat real food, hold their own bottle, drink from a cup, their first steps, their first words, climbing your stairs without giving you a heart attack, learning to ride a bike, learning to write and read, playing sports, tying their own shoes and being able to dress themselves. All of the little things that show they are growing up, gaining independence and maturing into this little human being your dreamed they'd be. I think the hardest part of this disease is the heart break of each and every achievement you once tackled, suddenly lost. The slow decline from independence to dependence on me more and more each day is heart breaking. Every achievement I listed you have either lost or will lose eventually.
And so begins my heart breaking wishes of promises I simply can not make to you.
I wish that in 2015 I could tell you that this pain is over. No more waking up in tears due to your night splints, no more labs and pokes, no more horrible side effects of medicines, no more leg pain and nights of no sleep, no more constant fatigue. I wish that I could tell you there were no more Doctor appointments or crazy tests and procedures to travel to each month all over Texas. I wish I could tell you we found a way to make you stronger. I wish I could tell you that we no longer need that orange wheelchair. I wish I could let you throw your night splints in the trash! I wish you didn't need medicines that can eventually harm your body. I wish I could tell you this is the end of the road for this crazy journey. I wish I could take away your pain, your fears, your heart aches and your tears. I wish I could tell you that you will always walk. I wish I could tell you that you will grow up to be that Texas Rangers player you dream to be. I wish I could tell you that I found a cure. I wish, oh how I wish, I could tell you I can fix you.
But...I can not. I can not promise or tell you any of these things, so I won't.
I can tell you other things though and so I will. To these, my sweet son, listen closely because they are the most important. I can tell you that in this life, nothing is ever certain except for two things, my love for you and God's love for you. Sweet son, there is no greater gift or promise than that of unconditional, everlasting love. I can promise you that no matter what we endure or face here on earth, there is victory in Heaven. I can promise you that when you feel alone, I will always be there and if for some reason I am not, God is. He is always holding you, at times just your hand, sometimes carrying you and always gently holding and shielding your precious heart. You may not realize it or understand it yet, but he has already used so many different ways and people this year to show you of his love and loyalty. So many people are praying over you daily, my son. People have been so good and gracious. Wether it be in thought, prayer, special trips, gifts, running races in your name, wearing your bracelet, wearing your shirt, sharing your story, fundraising for you or simple acts of random kindness, so many people truly care. So many people love YOU! To some, you are their hero! To me, you are MY hero.
I can promise that I'll never stop sharing your journey, your story. I will strive each day to find the best care and make your life better in every way. I promise you that I will never give up fighting for your dreams. I will make sure that each dream you dream this year, we will find a way to make them come true. I will take you to the statue of liberty. I will get you on a horse. We will go to Nascar, see the Texans and JJ Watt play and we will find a way to Ellen to tell your story. One day, we will go to Germany. These things, my son, I promise you. I promise you that we will live each and every day to its fullest. I promise you that we will have no regrets. We will leap, we will fly and we will soar above the pain this year. I promise you that each day I will get up, put on my armor and FIGHT! I will make sure you know what love and happiness is. I will teach you and you my son will continue to teach me. I promise to never take life for granted. I promise you to hold you close every day and remind you of how special you are. I promise to hold your hand, kiss your cheek and tell you I love you every single day. I promise to carry you when you can no longer walk, to pick you up when you can no longer rise, to be your arms and to be your strength each time yours fails you. I promise you that you will never see my pain, fear or tears over the loss and devastation of this disease. I will encourage you daily. I can tell you that this year, we will get you to Dr. Carsten Bonnemann. I promise you this year we will find answers. I promise you to never give up hope and to never stop looking for a way for improvements. I promise you that this will be your year to shine bright. I promise to make all aware of muscular dystrophy. And son, I promise you that this year, you WILL play baseball.
At such a young age, you have taught me so much. I have learned how to love harder and bigger than ever before. I have learned to smile through the pain. I have learned that pain demands to be felt. I have learned that we can live with pain. I have learned that strength, real strength, is not a physical ability but rather something of the heart, mind and soul. I have learned that our family is all that matters. I have learned as long as you are ok, we are ok. I have learned what a gentle soul truly looks like. I have learned that life is so precious and things are not. You have taught me all of these lessons through your journey, your story, your life. Your heart is reflected in your eyes and sweet smile. It is very true that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and your soul is nothing but pure and kind and full of joy. You have so much love to give and so many hearts to touch and I will strive to make that happen for you. You have taught me what love and forgiveness is. You never give up on me even when I can't make it right, your trust in me is what keeps me going. I know I don't always have the answers, Camden, but I have two arms to hold you tight and one heart to love you right. When my heart is aching, the one thing that can always help is you. To see you, hold you, hug you and see your smile, it brings me the one thing that others can't...joy. In you I have true joy. Thank you my son for that.
We all love you so much and your siblings adore you. You are the best example of a big brother I could ever have dreamed of. Your Daddy thinks you simply have hung the moon! :)
We will get through this together and never let go of each other. So let us grab hands, my love, and walk this journey together this year. It is the Mac Pac versus the world! Let us all make 2015 one full of new memories, adventures, laughs and endless amounts of love. I can't promise you that it will ever be easy, but I can promise you it will always be worth it. You see, your life is worth living no matter how hard it may be and with each new day we will give thanks for the blessing that you are. Keep smiling my son and never lose that sweet spirit. I love you.
A special thank you to my dear friend, Katie of Katie D Photography, for these wonderful images! <3