Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Next Generation

I’ve looked at the photo probably a dozen times and it still seems odd to me. There we stand, three of the four Herschelman siblings, with only the youngest missing from this Kodak moment. I have probably seen dozens, if not hundreds, of similar images with myself, my brother Daniel and my sister Mikaela at different stages of our lives, but this one was drastically different.

The Herschelman siblings with the next generation of cousins.
In this photo, there are three hangers on, literally, as Grace, Quincy and Keelen hold on to their respective parent. Two of them are passed out – Keelen, the youngest at just one day old at the time, and Grace, the oldest at the ripe old age of three years, 11 months. Only Quincy wasn’t sawing logs as the six-week-old had woke up just minutes earlier.

Herschelman cousins!
Later we took a photo of just the three of them, with Grace and Keelen still asleep and Quincy taking advantage of the moment by giving Mikaela the opportunity to hone her diaper changing skills as soon as the last photos were taken. Looking down at them, it didn’t really seem possible that they were ours. Even at 34 years old, I don’t feel nearly mature enough to take care of myself, let alone a child. The fact that Mikaela and Daniel have kids now too further boggles the mind.

Kyle introducing Grace to her new cousin, Keelen.
It’s going to be interesting how the three of them interact. Both Mary and I had cousins close to our age as kids and they were some of our closest friends growing up. The same goes for Daniel and Mikaela. I can’t wait until Grace, Quincy and Keelen get older to see what kind of trouble they can cause at Christmas.

Those thoughts are a little bittersweet though. We don’t know what the future holds for Grace and sometimes it’s kind of hard when I think of the things she may not be able to do. Barring a miracle, which I continue to pray for, Grace isn’t going to be able to run around, chasing after the two little boys who already seem to have boundless energy. She isn’t going to be able to play Super Alaskan Death Ball with her cousins. She isn’t going to be able to beg us to let her do something that her cousins are doing.

Kyle with an armload of love!
One of the hardest parts of this awful disorder is feeling like Grace is missing out on her childhood, even if that thought is only in our minds. She doesn’t know that she is supposed to be able to run and jump and cause trouble. She doesn’t miss those things in life. As long as she has love and attention, then all is right in her world. I try to remember all of that, but it’s really hard. All you want in life is for your child to have it better than you did. This disorder seems to rob Grace of that.

Still I try to remain positive. All four siblings, and the new cousins, are expected to be at Grace’s 5K race on Sept. 5. It will be great having the whole family around and I’m sure more sibling/cousin photos will be taken. As crappy as the outlook is sometimes, I know that times like the race, birthdays and Christmas are not the time to have a pity party. When you don’t know when things will change, you have to make the most out of the time you have. And I plan to do just that.


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