Radio Lab has a story about a pre-mature baby and her parents. The child was born one day shy of 24 weeks.
The child is near death from the moment of life. But finally, after months in the hospital the nurses, who won't us the word "home" because it is bad luck, tell the parents to think about buying a car seat. The memories of my children flood my mind when I hear that line.
We bought our first car as a couple a few months before our first child was born. And we brought every child home in the same car seat, in the same car. We still have that car. I would no more let go of that car than I would let go of any of my children.
The child shouldn't have survived. She shouldn't have survived birth, or surgery, or the months in the ICU.
And the parents never gave up, even though at times it seemed like they would. But they didn't.
There were moments they saw as signs. I believe they were signs. The baby grabs her father's finger. She opens her eyes just after a surgeon decides to not operate, resulting in the surgeon changing her mind. She responds to the sound of her father reading her a story.
The nurses, the doctors, the parents, and the narrator of the story all point out these are just twitches and physiological reactions. But they all believe they are signs as well. Signs the baby wants to live.
The story touched me. We brought our second child, our only son, home from the hospital in that same car seat in that same car 17 years ago.
It's easy now to blame myself for not seeing the signs of his struggle as he was growing up. It is painful to look back and ask why I ignored the signs I did see.
We have had many ups and downs with him as he struggles, fights, to tame or control, or learn to live with his emotions. Sometimes I feel like giving up, thinking he will never get better. And then he will give me a sign. He'll grab my finger, or open his eyes, or respond to my voice. And I realize he hasn't given up. I won't either.