Friday, December 19, 2008
This much I know
I've been maintaining radio silence for the past few days as I've gathered my wits about me and begun the process of wrapping my mind around the news we're pondering this holiday season. I can't say that the news is especially bad, nor can I say that it's good. It's just news ... the newest happening in the journey that we call life here.
A little more than nine years ago, I sat sobbing in the driver's seat of my gold Volvo 240 wagon, casting my eyes in the back seat at Jo, who was happily thumbing her way through an already dog-eared copy of Where the Wild Things Are. She was as cute as could be that hot summer day in her little red swing top with the oversized buttons and the denim shorts I'd bought on sale at Old Navy. She kicked her feet up and down as her eyes wandered over the pages of the book, and cocked her head ever so slightly to the left while pinching her right eye shut.
And this was why I was sobbing in the parking lot of a pediatric opthamologist. I had taken Jo in for what should have been a routine screen for a kid whose parents both wear glasses, and come out with a stack of literature, a stunned heart and a referral for a world-class specialist at the major children's center an hour and a half away.
My baby girl didn't just need glasses. The cute way she clenched one eye shut and turned her head was not an affect God had placed in her just so that I could coo and crow over it. It was a sign of something bigger. Something not so routine. Something wrong.
To this day, I can parrot back the diagnosis verbatim, but to the world at large it means nothing. The long and short of it is that Jo's vision, overall, was terrible, and her right eye was markedly weaker than her left. The right eye was beginning the slow journey inward ("crossed eyes") but that was only half of the problem. Her right eye was so weak that her brain had decided not to power it any longer. To turn it off. To render her blind.
Which would mean a lifetime of vision through one eye--one eye that was in no way capable of perfect vision, even when corrected.
My heart stopped that day, and it took many years for it to truly begin beating again. Exams, patches, therapy, countless screens, glasses, you name it. We waited, we worried, and we prayed. When Atticus reached two years old, I carted him to Jo's specialist and demanded the full nine yards. "Give him the screening you give kids who show symptoms," I told her, and she complied. I did the same thing with Logan. What, my heart begged, if those recessive genes had come together in just the right way again? They hadn't. Jo was the only one of our biological children to endure the intensive interventions.
The only one anointed with oil in my family room, in the glow of our fireplace, with the hands of our pastors and elders crowning her little round head.
The only one healed, at age 9.
The only one our doctor took notes on to send to her fellowship board.
The only one I can point at in the middle of a conversation with a stranger whose beautiful baby is sporting a pair of thick glasses and a patch and say, "Our God is still very much in the business of healing. Let me tell you about my daughter ...."
So what does this have to do with my news? My pondering?
I have once again found myself thrust into faith territory, the place where what you are told is your new normal looks nothing like the scenery you thought you'd find. I'm once again looking at a precious child and asking God to make me the parent I need to be in this season. This time, of course, I don't just know in my heart that He will provide. I know from experience. And that makes the road I'm looking at seem so much less rocky.
Oliver, age 2, is being evaluated for profound hearing loss. This is not the type of hearing loss that results from fluid in the ears or damage to the actual physiology of the ear. This is the type of deafness that rests in the brain and its complex processing of sound.
In all likelihood, Oliver has some residual hearing capabilities but will be considered functionally deaf.
And so we put our feet to yet another path where there are but one set of footprints. Thankfully, they are God's. And they are carrying us all.