Tuesday, May 3, 2011
April 2011 - Matters of Life and Death
Brandt's 11th month has been a full one--in many different ways. I've started several times to post an update, but haven't--also for many different reasons. Let me begin by saying, when I created Brandt's Beacon, I wanted to keep friends and family updated on Brandt's health situation. I wanted to keep some kind of record of his story. And mostly, I wanted that story to offer HOPE. And this mischievous, sweet, loveable boy has, by the grace of God, done just that. He doesn't quit! We thought he'd feel better after his bi-directional Glenn, but he's a WILD man. One week before he turned 11 months on April 25, he got the hang of crawling. It was a hilarious half drag half squiggle at first. He figured out how to stand on his head and do a comical plank--then get stuck in that position. But once he realized he could get his legs to follow, he was GAME ON. The word "no" is now an integral part of his caretakers' vocabulary. Not that he likes to acknowledge the word, but he's learning. As my father-in-law says, "Half a heart, double trouble!" And we love it. I think we'll need body armour after his third surgery--or at least some shots of Red Bull to keep up with him.
So logically, I think, our boy is doing well beyond all imagination, life should be back to normal, right? Wrong. This month has been, I think, the culmination of many swirling emotions. Due to physical challenges for me I am completely dependent on family for Brandt's care...and amazing family it is...we are so blessed!! But I hate being a burden...and wow I sound like a whiner. Putting all this into perspective, and I hesitate to write about it, because there are no words--two of the babies I asked you to pray for unexpectedly passed away this month. Little Patterson and Baby Olivia had both faced massive struggles in their fight for recovery, but we were so thrilled when Patterson got to go home, and Olivia's parents were also anticipating that in the near future. We shared hours together in the PCICU waiting room with these dear families when Brandt was at MUSC in December. They spent MONTHS there, fighting alongside their sweet babies for any news of improvement and recovery. So we were shocked and devastated when I read that their fight was over.
Our boys also lost a schoolmate to cancer this month. I grew up with his parents, and we had spoken with them occasionally as Jona fought his battle over the past couple years. Throughout the ups and downs, he inspired so many with his persistently optimistic outlook. He insisted on being at school as many a 16-yr-old would not want to be even when healthy! He continually expressed his love for God and faith in His Savior's goodness. He was ready to meet His Savior and his family rejoices that he's in Heaven, pain free, as do Patterson and Olivia's parents.
And so, how do you address these events with 10 and 11 yr old boys? They see the grief that comes from aching for these families' losses. We talked about Jona's praise and thankfulness, even as he was dying. We talked about how as Patterson's mom mentioned, he and Olivia can be playmates in Heaven. That we don't know everything about Heaven but that we know it's more wonderful than we can ever imagine. And these families have all focused on that, and continuing to offer hope to others going through the same battles. I think it finally hit me, through the recent Easter season, that "because HE lives, we can face tomorrow." Because Christ defeated sin and death, and lives, is the only reason we don't have to live in the fear and power of death. Grief is a part of life, but true hope comes from the power of Christ, Victor over death. And we pray for His grace and peace for each of these families, and ask you to as well, because we CAN'T offer hope and comfort through human perspective. I can't tell my boys--or myself--that Brandt will make it through his next surgery, or today, or tomorrow for that matter. Or that any of us will. But I can offer the confidence that "NOTHING can separate us from the love of God, not death, or life...not things today or things tomorrow...NOTHING." And that's a beacon of hope.