On Jace’s 1st birthday we had cupcakes with just the family at my mom and dad’s house. My cousin Andrew and I thought Jace would love some silly string, but he really really didn't. I’m not sure if it was my mom’s singing or the silly string, but he was terrified and cried and cried. Poor little guy.
Jace’s big birthday party the next weekend was ridiculous. We had enough food for a few hundred people and planned about a million activities. For some reason – to celebrate the birthday of a little boy on oxygen who couldn’t even walk, we were convinced we absolutely needed to have a Jupiter Jump. Jace mainly hung out on the patio because of his oxygen, but all the other kids had lots of fun. He got WAY too many toys, and we all yelled at my sister for planning an outdoor birthday party when it was so hot outside.
I feel so sad that so much time of his short life is such blur to me. I thought there would be billions more moments to cherish. I never imagined there would be so few. Now trying to write this, I hate that I can't think of more. I should have held each second closer.
Many many times a day and night, his oxygen alarm would go off, meaning he wasn’t getting enough air. Most of the time it meant the tube was out of his nose, and we just had to put it back in the right spot. One day, I think around Christmas, we noticed it was not in his nose and the alarm wasn’t going off. WHAT!?! We waited and waited and waited and for most of the day he was off the oxygen. It took a little more time, but soon the home health people rolled away all the cumbersome medical equipment. I think it was even sometime before he turned two, that he stopped needing breathing treatments. He went from “worst lung’s the doctor’s ever seen” to not even having symptoms of asthma.
Sometime during that year he started crawling. Jace did everything late, but his physical therapists insisted he needed to crawl, so he did. We were in so much trouble. The cute little baby we used to hold and rock and put on a blanket on the floor, was now a one man demolition crew. He had about a million toys, but he wasn’t interested in them. He was more interested in playing the remote, the laptop, the laptop cord, the candles, the books on the shelf, our shoes, our purses, our keys, the dvd player, the coasters, the pots and pans - anything but toys. If I thought it was tiring taking care of baby Jace, it was exhausting taking care of crawling Jace.
With Jace’s development we were so worried. Things seemed like they were taking forever. We worried he would never sit up, never crawl, never talk, never walk. Now looking back, I can barely remember those worries. He overcame every obstacle.
On March 20th, 2008, Jace was adopted and became Jace Alexander Burgess. His adoption party was miserable. It was at a park, and it was FREEZING outside. Leslie is a terrible party planner. All our family and best friends braved the harsh conditions to celebrate the addition to our family. There was an adoption board my mom made showing a picture of Jace when he was born (he was about the size of a thermometer) compared to Jace at 21 months. Such a miracle.
I wish I could give you some idea of what Jace did for our family. Having him made every hard thing we had ever been through okay. Leslie and I had long been on the road to spinsterhood. (I mean not intentionally - anyone who wants to date me feel free to call.) Anyway, my mother not very subtly often let us know that all hr friends had grandchildren and that she felt left out. Jace fixed that for her. He was apple of my parents' eyes. I don’t think any grandchild has been more worshiped in the history of the universe. I'm not kidding when I tell you our lives have been difficult. I could list all our troubles for you, and I promise you would feel more sorry for us. We’ve had more than our fair share. But Jace was the perfect gift. He was the reward for not giving up. He was happiness and life and peace for us all. It didn’t matter anymore if things were hard, because at the end of the day he would wrap his arms around you and kiss you and make you all better.
We used to joke about what would happen if Leslie, Jace, and I still lived together when he to school. The poor kid would get strange looks from the teachers if he told them he had two moms. One day I had friends over for dinner. I was sitting on the couch with Jace, and all of the sudden he looked at me and said “da da.” That one got a lot of laughs.
Jace’s laugh was probably the most precious part about this age. You can hear it in this video from the day he was adopted.
If you are wondering how my family is doing, the answer is not great. Things aren’t getting easier. I'm pretty sure they are getting harder. It seems we are living a nightmare. Every day I feel farther away from him, and he is the only thing I want in the world. Sometimes I don’t want the pain to stop, because in some ways I feel like the pain keeps me connected to him. The worst times are the down times. The sit at home with nothing occupying me times. The times I can think. Another hard time for me is at church during worship. I imagine Jace in heaven singing at the same time, which is beautiful, but I so desperately want him here. Sometimes I wish I could be there. I don’t understand how life can go on without him. It will. It has to. All we can do is trust God for more hope and more peace and more life.