Tonight, the tails from his black belt laid heroically along his legs.
Six years ago, the wires from his heart monitor lay gently above his blanket.
Tonight, he held his skinny frame tall. All 46 pounds of him stood proud.
Six years ago, I could hold his 3lb body in the palm of one hand.
Tonight I watched as my older son, the one we call Potter, accept his Student of the Month Award at his Karate School. The speech from his Sensei was followed by the honor of receiving a black belt with a gold stripe through the middle. He was told the black symbolized what he still had to achieve; the gold symbolized what he has achieved already.
Tears streaming from my eyes, his grandmom and I fought over the best camera angles. His little brother Scooter stood with Pop Pop wondering what all the fuss was about, but realized something big was happening, because for a few minutes, even he quieted down.
The first time I laid eyes on my son, the doctor held him above me for a moment then quickly had him rolled away to the NICU. I was not allowed to hold him. The second time I saw my son, his body was being helped to breathe by a ventilator. I whispered: "Potter, it's Mommy." His jaundiced body turned toward my voice and he held tightly onto my finger. I learned that day the meaning of strength.
Tonight again he grabbed me tightly. But this time, his arms ran closely around my waist.
He gets to wear his special belt for the entire month of January, then he will return back to his purple belt. It may just take that long for him to understand just how far he has come. Or like most kids, he may not get it until he's much older.
As I reminisce over the hundreds of hours of physical therapy, the swimming, soccer and karate; one thing I know for certain: This child has always been a black belt.