It’s the 11th October 2021, there is a severe weather front closing in and I have written about it before.

I’m braced for impact.

It’s my son’s 16th birthday tomorrow

I am full of so much joy, pride, gratitude and love.

I am brimming with heartache, loss and grief.

Weather fronts are the transition boundary created by the meeting of two contrasting weather zones. When a band of low pressure (typically cold and can be wet) meets a band of high pressure (typically warm and dry), it is like the frontline of two warring armies. If the contrast between each band of weather isn’t so big – neither is the weather front. But when the differences are vast – the created battlefield brings with it a reaction that causes a dramatic change in weather conditions.

Weather front map with swirling clouds

Birthdays are the perfect weather front

They are a special kind of 24-hour funnel bristling with memories (good and bad) and emotions galore. They are steeped in a well of expectation and traditions. I am so wholeheartedly grateful for our lives. For my son; his life, love and the truth he brings to our family.

Yet, this road is hard. It is tiring and relentless.

It is marred with a hologram of a ‘What if?’ world – where things turned out completely differently. Mostly, I don’t dwell on that hologram but birthdays, and the comparisons which come with them, bring that image acutely into focus. It is so difficult for parents like me to express loss and grief without receiving the platitudes of, “Oh but he is so wonderful,” and, “He such a happy boy.”

Yes, he is wonderful.

Yes, I have much to be grateful for.

No, I do not take that for granted.

Yet, who he is and how much we love him, is separate from what we expected and how tiring and complex our lives are today.

It’s similar to me coming back from a ridiculously busy shift in A&E without having a break and working within an inch of dangerous practice. Then slumping on the sofa and saying, “I’m exhausted – that was too hard.” Only to hear, “But you love nursing you are so good at it.”

Except it isn’t one shift – it’s 16 years of shifts without the resources, authority or agency to do the job of loving and caring for my son well.

Profile image of 15 year old boy in black and white

And here lies the low-pressure of this weather front

The tiredness, the ‘What if?’ world, the comparisons and simply wishing he didn’t have to go through as much as he does.

Yet the opposing high-pressure is of epic proportions

My son is going to be 16 years old – [insert lots of exclaiming, surprised swear words].

WOW! he is 16 and there were many times we did not think this would happen.

He is a joy in our lives. We utterly adore him, and I have been shaped immeasurably by being his mother.

This year, he is on a blended diet and will therefore have his first birthday cake in 15 years. (We smeared chocolate on his lips year 1 before he had his barium swallow confirming silent aspiration). We’ll chuck a slice of cake in the blender and put it down his mic-key tube. He’ll get a taste of the blended food in his mouth and as crazy as this sounds – that alone makes me want to weep with joy (and sadness of what we have missed) for days.

So, if you bump into me tomorrow, beware – I’m on the frontiers of a severe weather front. You might get a smile, you might get tears – you are likely to get both.

Whatever you get – it isn’t the whole story

These emotions are big and complex and I’m doing my best to hold each one lightly.

To feel every moment of this beautiful and brutal life.

Or as the awesome Glennon Doyle would say – my one and only Brutiful life.

Happy 16th Birthday precious boy.

Whatever the weather – I love loving you and always will, Mum xxx