What does today mean to you? I don't mean 'today' as in a carpe diem 'oh captain my captain' style moment, but literally today, February 13th, what does it mean to you? In all likelihood, it probably doesn't have any particular resonance but today is a most explosive date in the most literal of senses. It was 64 years ago on this date that the Allied forces bombed Germany and in doing so, made a ghost town of Dresden, it was 44 years ago on this date that the American's bombed North Vietnam under the guise of Operation Rolling Thunder and in an unnerving series of coincidence, it was 18 years ago on this date that the Allies bombed Baghdad in the first installment of 'Bush goes abroad'. For me, this date usually instills the annual Valentines inspired panic, the one most men can relate to, that being when she said "we won't bother getting presents", did she mean it or do I still have to actually buy a present because despite what she said, she has gone off and bought me something regardless, beautiful lunacy at it's most pertinent. Beyond the commercially enforced romantic ideals, this date was much like any other to me, dutifully turning up once a year for 24 hours of regular daily life. Last year however, on this date, our own personal bomb was dropped into our lives and the aftershock that Down Syndrome was now a part of our lives rebounded through us again and again as we came to terms with the new life emerging forth as the chaos settled around us.
The first blog I composed spoke of the infamous phonecall, as I scribe here today it is hard to comprehend that that phonecall was precisely one year ago. It doesn't just feel like a different age ago, it feels like it happened to a different person. The bloke that took the call one year ago is not the same bloke that sits here today. This is not meant to be taken negatively, nor is it a despairing call for pity, it is just the stark reality of the situation. I am glad the last year has changed me so convincingly, I am glad for the new perspectives I have on life, for the new skills I have learnt through Noah and for the almost encyclopaedic banks of information I now have on Down Syndrome and Special Needs. I am almost embarrased when I think about the unerring ignorance I existed in prior to Noah and the multifarious talents he has brought to our table. I know I shouldn't be embarrased by this, but it does feel like that sometimes, it actually gives me a sly smile when I think about it to be honest. By no means am I asserting that I am now a 'complete' person or any other holistic related mumbo jumbo but it certainly feels like there is more of me now than perhaps there ever was before if you can make sense of that. Allow me to elaborate...
When Noah arrived into our lives, something was triggered within me. I don't know and cannot articulate exactly what this was, but I do know that for the first time I felt that I was exactly where I supposed to be, both physically and spiritually. Was I always destined to be a Daddy? Is it that factor that will define my life? Was I purposefully sent down the fatherhood track without realising it or is there more still undiscovered within me that will require another monumental shift in my appreciations? I hope so, but one thing I have come to appreciate over this past year is that the unexpected is the only stable aspect of my life. We cannot rely on that which we already know as we are merely constrained by these knowledge boundaries, in order to fully perceive our existence we must embrace the unknown and realise that it is the instantaneous that defines us and emboldens our future. I never knew I would be a Daddy, I hope I would be but I never knew for sure. I certainly never knew that I would be a 'Special Needs Daddy' but this is who I am today. The old, childless version of me is gone and in his place I now stand looking to the future and waiting for the unknowns to define my next chapter.
Today's the day the bombs went off, today's the day the smoke cleared and today's the day it all started to make some semblance of sense. I hope you find your today as I have found mine, it is a great way to spend the day once you finally get there.
Happy Valentines to you all, I hope your love is chocolately and heart-shaped.
*** EYE EYE CAPTAIN UPDATE ***
Noah visited Crumlin Children's hospital on Monday for his detailed eye exams. I am delighted to be able to say that he passed with flying colours, shapes and sounds on all counts. We shared the exam with Bob The Builder (can we see it? yes we can!) and Barney the dinosaur (still annoying as an inanimate plastic toy) and Noah was on top form following all the stimuli around the room. Our doctor requested to see Noah again in a year and a halfs time for a status update but was confident that he wouldn't discover any change (turns, squints etc) in Noah's eyes based on this weeks review. Great news all round and well done to Noah's peepers, now I know he can definitely see me and is actively choosing to ignore me most of the time....the little rascal.