Posted by: Beverly Davidson, LMSW | November 18, 2015

A boy named Ben

It’s fascinating to me how my personal and professional worlds parallel the external world, and how certain events help me pause. The world is full of fear right now, and has been for a long time.  I have thought about how that fear has affected me in my work, and in my personal life. The fear has blocked kindness to some degree. And then yesterday and today happened.

Yesterday I sat with a mom whose son is 2 1/2 years old. I’ve known them since he was an infant, when he came into the world way too early, weighing only 1 pound. After 2.5 years, she was able to talk to me about her agony of not being able to hold him after he was born, as it took 4 days before he was stable enough to be held by his mother. Those 4 days were the longest most harrowing days of her life, she said. I felt that from her, but never spoke it. I could not give voice to the sorrow then, because she needed to survive and feel hopeful. Hopeful that he would come home, hopeful that he would eat on his own, hopeful that his brain bleed would not cause long-term damage. Now, as he approaches his 3rd birthday this spring, she is able to breathe a bit, and see him for the bright, happy and amazingly healthy little boy he has become. She told me she never grieved those months she lost with him, when he was in the hospital and hooked up to machines and tubes. She couldn’t, she had to make sure she could just get out of bed and stand up so she could be there for him. There was no time for feelings, no time especially for sadness. She had to survive so he could. His parents nor I knew what the future held for him. Would he live? Would he have delays? What will his life be? Today he is walking, talking, running, and making the world brighter. Today his mom can breathe, and we can now work on allowing her to honor her grief and sadness for what she lost.
Yesterday we watched the video of his first year that she made for him, and I felt so touched that she opened that piece of her heart to me. Even though I have visited him since he was a baby, seeing him on video and watching him grow through that first year made me realize that I, too, was “on hold.” I had to hold on for her as I sat with them that first year, providing guidance and support as he struggled to hold his head up, sit up, crawl and then walk. I realized that each time he tried to scoot, I was holding my breath, just a small similarity of the enormous breath she was holding for these last 2.5 years. Yesterday I sighed with her, let go of some fear, and held her hand as she cried for who and what she lost, and cried with joy for who she now had.

Today I was sent a picture of a young man who I knew when he was a baby. He is a teenager in high school now. He was a premature baby, too, and has cerebral palsy. I was reminded of how little he was when I met him, and how scared his parents were for him, and what the future held. There was no way of knowing. There were many close calls with him, numerous hospital stays, therapies, tears, laughter, joy, sorrow, and an absolute fear of the unknown. But he survived, and he thrived. To this day, I share the story of him to other parents. I tell them the story of a baby I once knew, and his name is Ben. I tell them that the doctors all said he’d never walk. I tell them that now he is a strong young man in high school who can not only walk, but who can dance. I tell them that the brain is mysterious, and with that mystery plus love, dedication and courage all things are possible. I tell them that when they are doubtful, to think about a boy named Ben. Because even though they don’t know him, he is hope. And hope knows everyone. Ben gave me hope all those years ago, and he made me a better person.

The mom from yesterday reminded me that I told her a story of hope almost 2.5 years ago, and how helpful it was. Today I am thankful for Ben, and thankful for hope. And thankful that we are all strong enough to hold on, because we will get to a place where we can breathe, because hope knows everyone.

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Responses

  1. You help and have helped so many people, including my family, because you hold your breath when we do, and you release it with us. And the best part is, sometimes you don’t even know you do it, it’s just who you are.

  2. Reblogged this on Autobiographical Reflections and commented:
    This is a blog from the social worker that helped our family when Wil was born, and we also know Ben 🙂

  3. Oh, thank you. I appreciate you!

  4. Sobbing but thank you!

    On Wed, Nov 18, 2015 at 12:42 PM, Voices from the Infant, Toddler and


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