Friday, July 14, 2006

Follow-Up to Myself

In a long, complicated blogging expedition, I came across an article written by Catholic Author, Melissa Wiley. She is an incredible writer (she has written children's books about the ancestors of Laura Ingalls Wilder), and she has a young son with special needs, who she aptly calls Wonderboy.

When Melissa Wiley was expecting her fifth child, she wrote this article about her 2-year old son. It struck me deeply because it almost exactly echoed my sentiments a couple days ago.

"I think about Wonderboy, and I think about this baby who will be joining us in the outside world before long. Eleven years ago, when I was pregnant with Jane [her oldest daughter] and people would ask, "Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?" I’d reply with the standard, "I don’t care, as long as the baby is healthy." This wasn’t exactly true: secretly I was hoping for a girl. Both hopes came true. I delivered a healthy baby girl, and I was so happy, so grateful. This little girl didn’t remain healthy, though. By the time she was Wonderboy’s age, she was fighting for her life. The battle against leukemia was grueling and scary. When nine months after her diagnosis Scott and I learned we were expecting another child, I uttered that "I don’t care what it is, as long as it’s healthy" line with even greater fervency.

And then, two babies later (first our Rose, then bouncing Beanie), I gave birth to a little boy, and he wasn’t healthy. He was, to put it bluntly, rather a mess. Thus began the next chapter of the lesson that started during the long months of Jane’s illness. Being entrusted with the care of a child who is not physically perfect can be, yes, painful and scary, but also one of the sweetest, most rewarding experiences a person can have. Do you know how much they teach us, these small, brave, persevering persons? I hadn’t begun to grasp the meaning of that whole "Count it all joy" business in the book of James until I met these children. Now I get it, or at least I get a glimpse of it. There is immeasurable joy not just in the overcoming of trial, but even — I know it sounds implausible, but it’s true — in the trial itself.

I lay there doing some praying of my own. The baby inside me kicked and kicked; I felt her foot against her brother's back and realized how much my answer to that old question has changed over the years. Of course I hope, for her sake, that she will be a healthy child
. No mother hopes for her children to have to walk a difficult road; it is our nature to want their paths to be as pleasant as possible. But no longer could I say and mean (even if I didn’t know the gender of the child): "I don’t care what it is as long as it’s healthy," with its tacit suggestion that an unhealthy baby means only tragedy and sorrow. If that wish had come true last time, I wouldn’t have my Wonderboy. If this child — or any of my others, for that matter, for Jane is proof that being "born healthy" is no guarantee of perpetual good health — should encounter serious medical difficulties, I know now that no matter how hard the road may be, even if it leads through the depths of Moria, it will carry us through Lothlorien, too. And even in Moria there can be humor and camaraderie and courage and hope among the band of travelers — especially the smallest ones."

Sometimes I need the words of others to explain how I feel about my own Wondergirl and this journey we have been on. You can read the whole article here:


Kerry said...

Wow... what a good article. When she said that feeling about "I don't care what I'm having as long as it's healthy" wouldn't have brought her son, how true!! It's funny; we don;t know what we've got until we have it.

Aunt Joan said...

What a powerful writer, for sure. Thank you for sharing her works with all of us. Clare looks triumphant up there on that mountain! What a sweet photo - Wondergirl !! Enjoy the fun times, and keep smiling!
We all love and miss you, Joan