I thought about it the other day. What do you regret? This question – potentially bone-crunching. Easter is giving me the gift this year of reflection.
It’s led to the question, what do I regret? Is it giving up my job as a clinical embryologist, moving to Wales, or a random choice I made on Tuesday the 21st of March, 2009? Questions like this go from little to large. Do I regret Delph being disabled? That’s the big one.
I wish she wasn’t, it’s true. Anything else would be less than sincere. As I wrote before, the cut-in-half nature of her disability literally splits her in two. Half of her body is unaffected and you get a half-sided view as she should have been without injury.
The other half of her is affected by the left-sided brain injury she suffered before she was born. The brain can be sophisticated enough to rewire itself but the damage down the brain stem – the most evolutionarily primitive part of a human brain – is permanent. Delph’s damage compromised her right-sided nerves and thus the targets of these nerves: her muscles.
Hold on though. If you go deeper and regret Delph’s injury fully, you realise it would have changed our lives completely. Decisions were made because of her disability. Including standing up and walking away from our lives. Sailing away actually. Over five-thousand mobility scooter-speed miles as it currently stands. Sometimes trauma does that to a person.
And then there’s people we’ve met along the way. Linda our literacy specialist, Alex the speech therapist, Caryl, Delph’s physiotherapist, Mr Laws the eye surgeon. These people and many others have woven themselves into our lives. Their kindness and encouragement has been an education in itself. So, you can wish Delphine’s hemiplegia away but the truth is that you’d also wish the last twelve years away. We’d have to start all over again, starting from today in fact – Delph’s birthday. Yep, Delph and the Queen, bday twins. It suits her.
So there it is – we’d have had a different life if Delphine has been normal, or as my new friend Jasmine says, ‘ordinary’. I can’t regret it, even if I don’t wish for the challenges that she has and will have. That’s the thing about your life – it’s yours. All yours.
So what would I regret? Of all the things I could prevent, one thing came at me like a steam train. I wish I’d written it all down. All of it. When they were really little and life was exquisitely painful. From Lulu waking up as hot as a radiator and scaring the bejesus out of us, then waking up later like nothing happened. The first time Delph refused to use a nappy even though she couldn’t walk yet. The two of them endlessly playing ‘drag my toy dog around’ as toddlers, then getting new handbags and being sure they were suddenly teenagers. Lulu running through my legs every day upon getting to her reception room class, straight for the front school door. Ahhh, good times.