Do you ever find yourself traveling back in time to a place when life was simpler?
When your responsibilities were practically non-existent?
When the biggest decision you had to make was whether to watch television or read a book?
I’m certainly guilty of taking part in this time travel, particularly when life gets complicated — or when I make it complicated.
And I’m a bit ashamed to say that, at times, I wish I could spend a day or two back in the selfish life I once had.
I don’t wish for a different life.
Just a break.
Then, my mind starts to wander a bit further.
Adri (in pink) and Santi at a friend’s party
What if I didn’t have what I have now?
- A beautiful wife who loves me (I’m fairly certain)
- Two beautiful children who love me (especially when I buy them ice cream)
- Family and friends who love me (even after getting to know me)
Then the question becomes: what if I didn’t have love?
Santi and friend, Natalia, about a year ago before their class skit
I once thought that love was a synonym for happiness.
Call it youthful ignorance.
I now know that love can encompass just about every human emotion that exists:
- joy, anger, happiness, fear, excitement, sadness, pride, envy, jealousy, confidence, wisdom, exhaustion, confusion, clarity and the list goes on
I realize that I’m in love with my wife, not because we’re always happy with each other.
If that were the definition, then many couples would need to redefine their relationships.
I love Gaby because I don’t need anyone else like I need her.
Adri learning the rules of the road with her classmates.
When we argue or fight, there’s a sort of emptiness in my chest. Breathing becomes a bit more difficult.
When she called me to tell me she had breast cancer, that emptiness transformed into an abyss. It was suffocating. I had to remind myself to breath.
Love wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Then, there are our children.
I remember when Gaby was pregnant with Santiago.
I would have conversations with my coworkers who had children, asking them what it was like to have kids.
Adri playing with her classmates at school.
Most would tell stories or try to explain the many emotions that come with having a child. Then, there was one guy, Erik, who simply couldn’t answer. Or wouldn’t answer.
I guess he felt that any possible explanation he could provide would fall short of reality.
“What’s it like having kids?”
“You’ll find out soon enough,” he said.
Santi the chef on Mother’s Day.
And of course, I did.
Having kids is like love on steroids, which also means it’s every other emotion on steroids.
It’s staying up with a sick child, monitoring his breathing, praying for a fever to go down and asking God to transfer the virus over to you so your child isn’t so miserable.
I remember sleeping with Santiago in our Lazy Boy chair when he was just months old and very sick. He was so congested, I just wanted to keep his head elevated so he could breath easier.
Feeling him asleep in my arms was a feeling like no other.
It’s emotional extremes; incredible highs and painful exhaustion.
Adri clowning with friends before their skit
And, I’m just the dad.
If you want to know about pain, talk to Gaby.
Love wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Then, there’s our Adriana.
The love a parent has for a special needs child is no different than any other parent’s love for his child.
In my case, though, more of the negative emotions consumed me. At least in the beginning.
Fear, anger, sadness.
I guess it’s normal.
I still get upset when we go to parties and Adri can’t run around with the other kids. Or sad when she can’t ride a scooter with her big brother.
But, more positive emotions are starting to seep in as she grows up.
Joy when I see her interacting with her classmates or participating in a school skit.
Relief when I see her doing well in her therapy sessions and maintaining her strength.
Adri presenting on starfish
Or pride when she gives a presentation on starfish.
Watching the video (at the end of this blog), I still get that empty feeling in my chest when she has difficulty opening her left hand, or holding her head up, or lifting the pointer to the pictures on the board.
But, she figures it out, and the joy returns.
The roller coaster of emotions.
I talked earlier about wishing I could go back in time.
My mom once told me that she wished she could go back to when my siblings and I were little.
Even though my kids are 5 (almost 6) and 3 (almost 4), I sometimes find myself wishing I could do the same thing.
Go back to when my parents stayed with us for a month to take care of Santi while Gaby transitioned back to work.
When my dad would take him down to the basement, place Santi in his walker and stay with him when Gaby and I headed off for work.
When I would step off the bus after work and see my mom holding Santi in the window so he could see his dad getting home.
Adri climbing on Luna.
Or, back to when Adri was crawling.
When she climbed up on our dog, Luna.
When she was cruising around Santi’s train table, and we were sure she was only weeks away from walking.
When we met with the doctor and she told us Adri has SMA.
Maybe if we go back, the diagnosis would be different.
Of course, it doesn’t work that way.
And so, we end with love.
That human emotion that Christ, in his human form, displayed when he gave his life to save us.
That gift that reminds us that, no matter how bad things seem, it’s better to choose love.