Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Crossing - Part 2 of 3

For John.

The ultrasound technician did the run through, showed us your face, your shoulders, your fingers and feet.  You wiggled and squirmed and your father and I were filled with awe and pride as we stared at the monitor.  Without any prompting, the ultrasound technician got up and left and in her place came a doctor.  He repeated the process again, politely showing us your various features, and then he paused, looked at us, and said calmly and deliberately:

“The ventricles of the brain are enlarged.”

Of course, he said much more, but for me, all the other words seemed to just float around in the air, and only some of them came to land in my consciousness.  Words like “normal life”, “shunts to drain”, “surgery after birth”, "one in a thousand".  And then I stopped listening, and I just stared at your image, still on the monitor, still squirming and growing and full of so much life.

When we got home, your father tried to explain to me what the doctor had said.  Borderline bilateral ventriculomegaly.  It is a term that, to this day, I still cannot recall, and I must ask your father each time to tell me again.  From the moment I first heard it, I have blocked it from my mind.  Your father researched it, and when we discovered just how enormous the odds of you being diagnosed with this condition were, our hearts broke into pieces.  We were convinced that this didn’t just happen by chance; instead, we believed it was yet another way that God had decided to test us.  Never before had I felt such betrayal by the God whom I had only recently begun to trust again.  I felt like we’d just been subjected to one of the dirtiest tricks that providence could play on us.

But where do you turn in times like that if not back to God?  We knew that we must carry on, and that we would love you no matter what your future held, and we asked God to not forsake us in that moment of desolation.  We cried at night and each morning, we washed away our tears and faced our days.  We told no one of your diagnosis, for we knew that the weight that would be added from well-meaning yet careless comments would be more than we could handle.  Time would reveal all, we believed, and so we prayed for a miracle, and began our journey toward acceptance of God’s will for you and for us.

In was during the midst of this journey, only a few days after that devastating ultrasound, when your father found himself in the cathedral. It was the same church in which he’d frequently prayed for a child, and where he’d often gone to find peace during those many years that we waited for you.  As he fervently prayed that day, he looked up and noticed a bishop walking towards the sanctuary.  Your father felt moved to approach him and rushed toward the front of the church and caught the bishop’s attention.  And he poured out the whole story to this holy man, the story of our years of struggle to conceive, the loss of a previous child, and now the story of you and your miraculous conception, and our most recent tragedy of facing an uncertain future with you.  The bishop listened carefully and then he simply asked, “When can you come back here with your wife?  I want to pray with you both.”  

Two days later, we sat in a quiet room with the bishop, and we talked of our lives and our various journeys in faith.  He told us that he was going to pray for you specifically and also, that your father and I would be blessed with even more children.  He then stood, walked over to my side, and asked your father to do the same.  The bishop placed his hands upon my head while your father placed his on my shoulders, and as your father and I listened, the bishop prayed aloud using words that I did not understand.  Peace filled the room and your father, in particular, said that he had felt something come over him that he could not explain.   Unlike me, he was certain that something had changed.

We went home and for the first night since we’d learned of the ventriculomegaly, we slept soundly.  But little did we know that God would be granting us one more very powerful intercessor as we made our way on this journey.  It was three days after our prayerful meeting with the bishop that your great-grandmother died.  She had been our last living grandparent and she had been so excited to meet you.  When we had last seen her, only a few months before, she had appeared well, and she spoke excitedly about your pending arrival. She loved all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren so much, and we couldn’t wait to introduce you to her.   To learn of her unexpected death was yet another blow to us.  Why now?   And yet, somehow, I felt like I knew the answer to that.   “She wants to help us,” I told your father, “and now she can help us more than ever.” So, as we stood beside her casket and looked upon her one last time, I made one final request of her, “Please, ask Jesus to heal our son.”

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