“Ma, I got it.”

Today, my son Eric turns 24. He has his own house. He has a career in finance at Merrill Lynch. He has cystic fibrosis.  

| 5 min read
Margarete-Cassalina
Margarete Cassalina
Eric and Me 2014

When Eric was young, he was eager to be independent.

As a toddler he'd get his own cereal bowl and spoon from the height friendly bottom drawer…and learned to swallow all his multiple pills in a single gulp. 

Eric_golfing as a kid

As an elementary school student, he'd set his own 5:30 a.m. alarm…get up, get dressed, get out his meds and do his breathing treatments.

As a pre-teen, he taught himself how to ride a 4-wheeler, a snowmobile…and taught himself how to give his body insulin shots.

As a high-school student, he was responsible for his own college applications, and was an entrepreneur in his own landscaping business. He also started being responsible for making his own pulmonologist appointments.

As a college student, Eric was responsible for balancing a full-time job, full-time school, and took on the responsibility of driving and admitting himself to the hospital when he was in need of a more aggressive intervention due to a flare-up with his cystic fibrosis.

When Eric was young, we encouraged his independence.

I was his safety net as I watched him balance his life and cystic fibrosis.

While he soared in his independence, I had a hard time watching him fall. Perhaps he didn't clean his nebs as often as I thought he should. Perhaps he didn't take all the pills at the times I thought he should. Perhaps his attitude of independence was a little hard to handle. Sure he was growing up but he was not yet grown.

In high school we began to have conflicts over his independence and our conversations sounded like this:

“Don't you think you should see the doctor about this or that?” I'd ask him.

“Ma, I got it.”

“You forgot to mention this or that to the doctor.”

“Ma, I got it.”

“Don't you think you should do your breathing treatments now?”

“Ma, I got it.”

“Did you order that medication from the pharmacy yet?”

“Ma, I got it.”

“I'll stay with you in the hospital, you know, just in case.”

“Ma, …I got it.”

The conflicts grew with his independence. He was responsible for his life but not to the level I had mastered. I had given my life to take care of his and I was better at it than he was. After all, he was fairly new to the complete responsibility of it all and I was a master at his life; his health.

Ahh, lightbulb moment.

His life. Not mine.

His health. Not mine.

Though he will forever be "my everything," my life, my tangible heart walking around on this earth…I'm learning that his life belongs to him.

Independence doesn't come without a little growing pains, tears and a few silent treatments.

There were tears streaming down my face when he asked me to leave him alone in the hospital.

There were angry words exchanged when I had to immediately run to the pharmacy because he was out of a certain medicine or I had found an unused bottle of vitamins.

There were silent rides home as he'd refuse to talk to me about what I had divulged to the doctor during an appointment.

But we never stopped working on our ever-changing relationship.

Eric and Me 2014

We discussed boundaries. 

We discussed fears.

We discussed both our new found independence.

I understand and trust that though he may fall, Eric is perfectly capable of being in charge of his life; all aspects of it.

As long as I live, I will drop my life in a second if he ever needs me…but only if he asks.

 

Last month, he asked if I wanted to take a ride with him to his next doctor's appointment. I sat in the waiting room as he introduced me to his adult care team one at a time.  Not surprising, they were amazing and thought the world of him.

On our way home he asked if I wanted to grab lunch. Over a ton of sushi we talked about his life, his job, his girlfriend, and yes, his health.

When the server brought the check over I attempted to grab it. He reached for the bill and said, “Ma, I got it.”

Yes, he does.

He's got it and I couldn't be more proud of the man he has become.

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Margarete-Cassalina

Margarete is a public speaker, a freelance writer, and the author of Beyond Breathing and See You at Sunset. But, most importantly, she is a mother of two children who were born with cystic fibrosis: Eric, now 27, and Jena, who “moved up” to heaven in 2006 at the age of 13. Margarete has been a dedicated volunteer for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation since 1991. She has served as National Leadership Council Member, National Public Advocacy Co-Chair, and National Volunteer Leadership Co-Chair, as well as chairing local events. As empty nesters, Margarete and her husband, Marc, continue to raise funds and awareness for the Foundation by doing annual Xtreme Hikes, Golf Events, and galas, all in the hope of one day becoming grandparents to Eric and his wife, Kourtney's, children. For more about Margarete, you can visit her website.

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