This afternoon when little Joseph was stretched out in my lap, I cupped my hands and began to gently, rhythmically pat his back and sides, like I did on Rees for so many years. Three or four times a day and sometimes in the middle of the night if he was sick and coughing, we would cocoon together on a bed or couch and do "PT", as we called it. Chest Physio Therapy. Clapping. When he was little, it would put him to sleep so we timed it for naps and evenings. As he grew, we would watch half hour videos like old Sesame Streets or Hero Classics. Hogan's Heroes and the A Team later on. We were together. We were close. When John and Clare came along, we all cozied up together, for PT.
Joseph jostled contentedly as I vibrated his back ; Ian and Luke looked perplexed. "What're ya doing?" one of them asked. "Why, PT. Just like we did for Rees." They had No Idea what I was talking about and I felt . . . sad. They didn't know what PT was and I wished they did. You see, Rees has been using a hand-held flutter device the past four years and doesn't need me to take care of clearing his lungs. That thing that seemed so confining, so abnormal, now gave me a nostalgic ache about its passing. No more PT. To be sure, we still sit together (in the evenings only now) while he takes care of himself and uses the flutter. We have been forced to do this. But what have we gotten? A terrible imposition? A hold on "real life"? Hardly. What we got is a Very Cool Teenager who drives away by himself to go to youth group and is looking for a part time job, but who still wants to hang out and watch movies with his parents (Have you seen Inception? Wow.). Who still stays up to talk about movies and whatever topics they inspire long after the credits roll. Who says things like, "I still have to do my lung chores, can John and I stay up and play Settlers of Catan? (Yup, but it's 10pm ; be quiet and don't wake us up!)
This is real life. It is good. It is better than good. PT made us cocoon in the beginning ; now we just do. I miss the clapping, but I sure do like what it gave us.
And all our babies have loved to be clapped, CF or not!