I was beginning to think that day would never come. Wyatt has seemed to be ahead of the curve on so many things, but people started asking “Is he walking?” several months ago.
Saying “No, not yet” didn’t bother me until it was to his pediatrician at Wyatt’s one-year checkup. He didn’t act like it was a problem, but I began to worry anyway.
I knew Wyatt’s chubby little legs were strong enough to support him.
He pulled himself up on anything that was stationary and a few things that weren’t. He screamed in delight and pride every time he walked while holding someone’s hand. He would even move from one end of the couch or love seat to the other as long as he could keep one hand on it.
Everyone said that one day Wyatt would let go and never look back.
The first time he did, Zac unintentionally scared the daylights out of him. Wyatt had taken about three unassisted steps when his daddy said, “Jenn, look!” a little too loud for Wyatt’s liking.
He made it to Zac’s outstretched arms but didn’t try that whole walking business again for a while.
It probably seemed like too much effort for not enough benefit.
Crawling got him wherever he wanted to go in the blink of an eye. Seriously, he stole his motto from “Cars” — “I am speed.”
I’m sure he thought to himself, “Who needs to be upright anyway?”
One Sunday morning when we had Wyatt in the church nursery, we saw a little boy about his size who was toddling all around the room.
Wyatt stared him down. I’m not sure if he was curious or mad that that joker was showing him up.
We put Wyatt on the floor to see what he would do. He stood there in his little white patent leather shoes for the longest he ever had without holding on to something.
Zac and I thought he was going to take off, but he fell onto his rump after about a minute. He just wanted us to know that he could walk if he wanted to.
When Wyatt was one year and eight days old, he decided that he wanted to.
Now he walks everywhere. Crawling is so yesterday.
The first night I watched him bouncing around the house on two legs, I sent a text message to several friends that said, “This just in — Wyatt walks.”
One of them sent back, “Another blessing in the storm.”
Watching Wyatt has been a welcome diversion for me. Lately, I seem to be stuck in April 27.
Almost everything I have written since then has been related to the tornadoes. I feel a great responsibility to stay on this story after the TV crews move on.
I will move on only when my people do.
Still, it has taken an emotional toll on me. Maybe it would be better if I could put some distance between myself and my job.
But the day I can go to a balloon release for a little boy whose life was cut short and not leave in tears is the day I start looking for a new way to make a living.
I don’t want to be able to walk among the ruins of my hometown without feeling the loss.
I reached my breaking point one day last week, however. I hit a wall built by the bricks of sadness, anger, guilt, worry and cynicism that was held together by the mortar of stress.
I told a friend that I knew I shouldn’t be whining to her because I have so much to be thankful for. Then she helped me see that a person’s right to a come-apart is not directly related to his or her degree of blessings.
If it’s my pity party, I can cry if I want to.
Like everyone else in Cordova, I am adjusting to a “new normal.” That’s a process, and I’m working through it the best I can.
Thinking about Wyatt helps me a lot.
I can either hold on to a past that isn’t coming back, or I can let go and let God.
Rebuilding our lives and our town isn’t going to happen overnight, but we will get there together in a series of baby steps.
We just have to put one foot in front of the other.