We spent the day at a parish festival from where I grew up, with lots of family around. We put everything out of our minds for a glorious morning. Being surrounded by family, we felt a comfort where words were not necessary - they were understood, unspoken.
The kids sat on the curb being showered with candy from smiling children. The Midas Touch seemed present in every game they played, bringing home the biggest stuffed prizes and a bag filled with treats. Their eyes sparkled with joy every time a ping pong ball landed in a cup or a mechanical pig crossed a finish line as they squealed with delight. The prizes, often small trinkets, were like treasures overflowing within their small hands. The end of the morning they were sticky from sweets and flushed from the heat of the midday sun, and collapsed in the cool air of the car.
We crossed errands off on our list - got haircuts that we knew we'd neglect once the snowball of medical visits and brace adjustments began. We ran by the camera shop for a special lens I've been wanting for months, and went to a store to get Jackson some comfortable shorts to wear with his brace. We busied our minds with things that needed to be done in an effort to not remember what was to come. We went out for dinner and laughed and played the games that are typically disregarded inside a children's menu. We completed our last task of the evening, and started back on the way home.
As we entered the highway, darkness began to fall. The car grew silent as five very tired children drowsily watched a movie and drifted to sleep. We were left alone with our thoughts. The quiet was peppered with an occasional question. "What should he wear tomorrow?" "Do you know what the girls are wearing?" "Should we stop for gas tonight?" Sadness crept in. Fear was in the air. I wondered how on Earth I could keep him from nursing without making him feel that I was denying him the one basic need he has in this world. I wondered how the moments would pass tomorrow, who would meet him first, how he would react to them. Awful thoughts entered my mind, thinking that if something happened this was our last evening together this way - our family - before things were...different. I wondered if the girls would ever forgive me if something happened to their precious boy, our precious boy. This was somehow my fault - I had to call the doctor, I had to press for them to see him the next day at the clinic. Why couldn't I have just left it alone? Why didn't I just let him be? Why am I doing this to our family? Why is God doing this to us? To him.
By the time we reached the house, most of the car was asleep. It was completely dark except for one bright star in the sky. (Though I'm sure it's a planet, because it doesn't twinkle - and someone recently told me that planets don't twinkle.) The crickets were chirping and the night was still. The children were already in their homes for the night, and ours were ready for the trip upstairs. I came inside, ready to pack a bag for the day and arrange things for the morning, and am compelled to check one last time for any calls or emails. I found comfort in the words of friends and family, and see that we are not alone in the quiet of this night - no matter how lonely we may feel. Our friends are near, our family is nearer, and God's hands are going to carry us all through.
By the time you read this post, we'll likely be on our way to the hospital or there already. We'll be wrapped up in the time and commotion of getting there and settling in. But, the silence will come again like it always does, and it will bring with it those irrational fears and terrible thoughts. And, we will pray - harder than we've ever prayed in our life. And God will hold our boy when we cannot any longer.
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