Is it possible for a house to be filled with memories both haunted and happy? Yes, it is, especially when you're raising a child with special needs.
Our front door is a good spot. I can still recall Max as a kid being just tall enough to peek out through the glass, and feeling lucky when I left for work that he was able to stand on his own. To this day, walking down the street toward our house and seeing his face smiling at me blisses me out, no matter what kind of day I've had.
Our dining room is a mixed bag. For years, it was the kids' playroom, packed with toys from corner to corner. There was a big round rug, light green with palm trees, where physical, occupational, speech and visual therapists would sit with Max as a tot and try to get him to move his limbs and hands; grasp toys, blocks and balls; utter sounds; and focus his eyes. Sometimes, I dreaded being with Max on that rug. I so wanted to just play with my boy instead of everything having to be therapeutic. But this is also an area where we celebrated Max's wins, like him being able to pull himself up and drop balls down this whirly tower he loved.
Our living room is where I picture Max commando crawling. For months, he couldn't raise himself up on his arms and knees and so he'd propel himself forward by pulling his body along with his arms and pushing off with his legs.
I was so proud of him, so impressed by his determination and so hopeful that one day he would do a quadruped crawl on all fours (an indication that his arms and legs were stronger) and then one day, he'd walk. Max got around really fast doing that commando crawl—not just in our house but in mall play areas and on grassy lawns of concerts we'd take him to and at friends' homes.
This is the rocking chair where I'd sit with Baby Max at night and rock him to sleep. I was a ball of anxiety back then, so worried about what the future held for him. But when I'd cuddle him as a Bedtime With the Beatles CD played, I felt some peace. Because I was a mom doing what any mom does, and he was a baby going to sleep the way babies do. The chair is now in Ben's room, and it still brings the calm.
This is our bedroom, with the Charles P. Rogers frame I spent so much time choosing and a bed wondrously free of piles of laundry. When Max was one and a half, he co-slept with us. He woke up burning hot on a June morning. Suddenly, one his legs started shaking. Then the other leg started shaking. Within seconds, his entire body was convulsing and his eyes had rolled back to his head. It was a seizure, a grand mal that couldn't be stopped until Max got to the hospital. I don't think about it very much anymore, but the memory of that morning will forever be part of that bed.
And this is Max's bedroom. The bed used to be on the right right side, and the area in the middle was empty. On his third birthday—literally, on his third birthday—Dave knelt by the window in the left corner and held Max by the waist as he stood. I knelt on the other side of the room. Up until then, Max had been walking only when he was using a walker or holding someone's hand. "Come to Mommy!" I said. Then Dave let go and Max toddled from his arms, across the floor and into my own. They were the happiest tears I have ever cried.
Once in a while at night, as I'm sitting in bed and reading a book with Max, I'll picture him walking across the floor. This room will always be magical to me.