Yesterday I experienced something unexpected. I decided to go through all of our old VHS-C home movies so that I could decide which ones to keep and convert into a digital format. First of all, I didn't even have the adapter anymore, so I had to run to Best Buy to get one. Finally, I was able to sit down and begin to watch. I was hoping to see some classic signs of Fragile X that I could use in future presentations to show "then" and "now".
I chose one from 1990 as the first one to view. This meant that Jake was 16 months old, and just beginning to walk. Joe was not even a glimmer yet. The first thing I noticed when I started to watch was how different I felt than when I watched it years ago. I also noticed many things that I never noticed before. It became evident that as the years past I was able to look at things in a very different light. I could clearly see that Jake walked with a very different gait than other kids I have seen since. His joints were very loose. I had been told this, but I guess I didn't notice it that much when he was little. I started to feel a bit strange in my stomach as I viewed this video. I was able to remember exactly how I felt at that moment the video was shot. In 1990 we knew nothing about or had ever even heard of Fragile X. I also noticed that he WAS a very cute little boy. Of course, I am biased.
The next video I choose was from 1993. It was Christmas morning. The room was lit soley with the light from the Christmas tree, but Jake (then almost 4) immediately walked over and switched on the lamp. He had just gotten up. Next, he went and turned on the tv, just as he did every morning. The routine could not possibly be interrupted--even for such a thing as presents! Joe, on the other hand, immediately went toward the gifts. He was walking well at 20 months and his balance was pretty good. My 80's hairdo gave me the creeps. We sat on the floor and slowly opened one gift at a time. Jake continued to be uninterested. As I watched, I remembered feeling very numb at the time. In fact, when I just think freely, I don't remember a lot of details about this time in my life, but, I do remember feeling overwhelmed and numb. At the time, it seemed like both boys were a handful, but now when I view it, it seemed the exact opposite. Another sign that as time passes you form a new perspective. One other big thing that I noticed, was how quiet everything was, even with over an hour of video. The boys hardly said a word or made any noise at all. Another sign of reality. I realized now that in a normal video of a 4-year old there would be lots of chatter, excitement and noises--especially on Christmas morning! Fragile X was alive and well in our home.
I did feel a little bit sad while I watched. I didn't like it at all. This is not me! It was almost like I was transported back in time and had to relive the emotions of the past. I had faced all of these emotions before. I had resolved them and moved past, but here I was facing them point-blank once again. If I had the option, I would choose not to do it again. So, I had to ask myself...do I keep these videos at all? I think I will, if for nothing more than to record time. I believe it is a good reminder of how far we've come. It is also a good reminder of dreams and how limited they are. When the boys were this little, we never could have imagined them coming as far as they have! How could we? We could hardly see past the end of our noses. We were spending each and every day coping the best we could. We were full of worry. So much worry that we had no room for dreams or goals. We couldn't see past next week! I know we loved them just as much, but we had been stirred up and dumped out by life. Our ability to see age 20 and 22 was impossible.
Watching 2 videos was enough to know that I didn't really care to watch anymore. I choose to be in the place I am today. To be able to view the future with hope and dreams. To know that goals are attainable, and that our boys CAN and WILL succeed in having a productive and happy life. As they say in "Lion King", "Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or... learn from it". I choose to learn from it.