I have heard Ronan say Mommy only one time in his entire twelve years.
Mommy. One time. I'll never forget that day. It was in September of 2005.
My sister and my Mom had come for a visit. After getting the kids tucked into bed, we cleaned up and got ready to play a game. A few minutes into the game, I could hear Ronan stirring in his bedroom. He hardly ever fell asleep right away, so hearing him stir was not uncommon.
With the little ones tucked in, it was time for the adults to relax. My Mom, sister and I were going to play Scrabble. We set up the board and sat in the dining room. I let Ronan continue to play quietly in his crib as we sat down. Ronan had some books and his favorite stuffed animal, Doggy Dog, in his crib. He, like my oldest, loved to look at books at bedtime. Since I'd just put Ronan down, I wanted to wait a few minutes before checking on him.
We could hear Ronan babbling as we started to play. He had babbled quite a bit that night and continued to do so after being tucked in. Typically, babbling is an early speech skill that can lead to speaking. At this point, speech should have been old hat for Ronan. It should've been. And it would've been had we taken a different path. But I didn't know then what I know now, and as a result of that, Ronan lost his speech. Words were no longer being formed, and silence crept in.
During that time, Ronan went through long stretches of eerie quiet. I had no idea how long these stretches would last but encouraged Ronan to use his voice when I could. I longed to hear the words that Ronan used to say. I ached to hear him call me mama again. I hadn't hear mama or any of the other words Ronan that had acquired before he got sick for quite some time. Strangely, the babbling that Ronan used after he lost his speech sounded more like jibberish than the more functional babbling he'd done prior to speaking.
But I welcomed the babbling. Babbling was a good! It meant that physically, some things still worked. It was just a matter of getting those things to work together. Things worked together the night that my Mom and my sister came to visit.
After the Scrabble game had been set up and a round or two had been played, Ronan was still awake in his crib. While waiting for my turn, I thought maybe I'd go peek in on him. He was getting louder. I hesitated though. His babbling sounded different. It sounded like vocalizations. Some actually sounded like verbalizations. Not wanting to interrupt this spurt of language that I thought I heard, I listened for a little bit longer. That's when I heard it:
Such music to my ears!
He said it as if he'd been saying it for years.
With how sick Ronan had gotten, and with how many milestones that he'd lost, I was desperate for a breakthrough. Saying Mommy was a big one. I remember smiling and not being able to stop smiling. Feelings of hope and happiness flooded over me. I felt like every door that had been slammed shut were now swinging wide open. I was so excited, and I couldn't wait to hear what else Ronan would say.
Em. It isn't Mom or Mommy, but I love to hear Ronan say it. When he says Em, I immediately look at Ronan. I reply, "Yes?" and I wait for Ronan's request. His requests are simple - to refill his bowl with a snack, or to start his favorite movie, or to change the Wii disc so he can play a different game. Whatever the request is, Ronan knows that when he comes to me for help, he gets help right away.
Em. It's the first sound of the word Mommy. Mommy. Mommy...that's me! The one who believes fully in a little boy. The one who believes in hard work. The one who believes in hope. The one who believes in miracles.
I'm still hoping to one day hear Ronan say Mommy. That sweet voice. The hopeful surge that ran through me. Those endless possibilities that I had quickly imaged. That moment melted my heart and filled me with such emotion. I'd love to experience that again. I'd love hear my little boy say Mommy again too. How I'd love to hear him say Mommy at least one more time.