It’s Gotcha Day, little dude. We adopted you eleven years ago today. I love this day, but this year’s celebration is bittersweet.
Your grandmother died on Friday night. Your dad’s mom, Grandma Mary. This year’s Gotcha Day will be a little less inflatable water slide and a little more holding space for your grandma today. You’re grieving.
This isn’t an obituary – you’ll be much better at that, kiddo – but what I will remember about your grandmother was how accepting she was. From day one, eleven years ago, she accepted you completely and without hesitation, exactly as you are. She accepted your dad like that, too.
That sort of acceptance is rare. It’s quiet and unassuming and I don’t think I realized how important this was for you until this moment, as I write this.
She loved all of you, Jax. Not just the chubby toddler cheeks when you came home or the mechanical abilities or the happy, dancing easy to love days. She accepted the throwing and the tics and the whole and entire lot of the past eleven years. She accepted all of it.
From your very first breath, your life has been a tug-of-war between who you are and someone else’s expectations. Who do we want Jax to be and what do we do when he isn’t?
The answers range from tragic, let’s leave him on a road in rural China because of his birth defect, to things that fall, sometimes deceivingly, under the umbrella of necessity, like speech therapy, social skills training, ABA.
I’ve never thought about it this way before, but your life has had few demonstrations of pure acceptance for who you are. I’m not saying I would change much on my end, but I am recognizing that for all my “you do you, Jax” there is a solid chunk of “as long as it fits within these parameters.”
Grandma Mary came with none of that. She loved you because you were you, and you loved her back. That was that.
I get it now, Jax. I missed this, but I get it now. This year’s Gotcha Day will be a celebration of who you are – exactly who you are – and a thank you to the woman who was already celebrating you for the past eleven years.
Happy Gotcha Day, Jax.
We love and miss you, Grandma Mary.
Rebecca Masterson is a writer, speaker, and an advocate for children. For more from Rebecca, follow her on Instagram. Or sign up for her newsletter.