We recently had a fun New Year’s Eve party with family and friends. Just minutes before midnight, I snapped a picture of Peter with one of his long-time friends, Keegan. What impressed me about the photo was not so much how the two have grown and changed with each year’s passing but, instead, how many memories they have made together. Keegan was Peter’s first “buddy”. They met when they were each about a year old, and they’ve been friends ever since.
When the boys were toddlers, Keegan lived across the street from us. I remember how Peter would look out the window hoping to see Keegan across the street and then figure out a way they could “hook up” outside on the sidewalk. Because he had been isolated so much during his first year, Peter really treasured each and every social encounter he could have. He was overjoyed at any opportunity to play with friends.
Keegan and his family have seen the many ups and downs of Peter’s medical care. They have visited us in the hospital, helped turn pins during jaw distraction, watched us suction Peter’s trach and give him tube feedings, pretended that it was no big deal when a string popped out of Peter’s lower eyelid on a Friday night, and witnessed the joy of seeing Peter with his first prosthetic ear. We have done countless family outings together, including some fun vacations. The boys have very different interests and separate friends, but they also have over a decade of shared companionship, mischief, and stories.
Our closest family is over two hours away, so we feel blessed to be surrounded by good friends. Peter, especially, has an amazing network of friends at school. This is so comforting for me because my natural instinct after his birth was to be fiercely protective. I worried about people staring, about him getting teased at school, and I wondered if he would have trouble making friends. Thankfully, these worries aren’t as intense as they used to be. Peter has a unique sense of humor, an exceptionally compassionate personality, and many friends that enjoy his company. These are traits and resources that will help him be successful.
A new year is a time for reflection and new beginnings. Taking the picture of Peter and Keegan really captured that. For a brief moment, I was able to simultaneously appreciate the past for all its blessings and trials and look toward the future with a sense of peace and excitement. It was special to have such a moment surrounded by family and friends as we welcomed in the New Year.
I hope that 2012 is your happiest and healthiest yet!