Tonight found me in one of my most favorite places– in my living room, with my mom and I on opposite couches.
It’s been a comforting rhythm in my life, these talks and time with my mom. I can remember one couch session six years ago: I rocked Calvin in my arms and bawled my eyes out to my mom. I couldn’t bear the pain of the life Calvin was going to live. I couldn’t see over the mountain of his losses. I felt sick and didn’t see how life would be worth living if you could never express yourself, reach out for a hug or let your feet carry you on adventures.
My mom sat in the pain with me.
Tonight was so different. We sat on the couches and Calvin was again in my arms. Well, sort of. His head was on the armrest and the rest of him stretched across my lap and onto the couch. He’s grown. We’ve grown.
On top of devastating loss, I feel gain too. And not because everything turned out fine; actually all of our worst fears came true. But what time and grace had to show me was the value and joy Calvin’s life holds despite severe disabilities. I perceived basic abilities equalling happiness. In some ways they do, but Calvin has so many other unexpected abilities that bring a totally different type of joy.
Our families and friends have come together and heaped love on us and Calvin, showing us the depth of their loyalty and love. God used Calvin to show us this beautiful gift.
I would do anything to hear him say, “Mom!” or to have him reach up and hug me. But he’s shown us unconditional love and joy in who we are with wide, warm eyes, affectionate kisses, and legs that jerk in unrestrained excitement. His love has been so pure and whole-hearted, it’s made me grasp just a little bit more the nature of God’s love.
Every night, Calvin and his sister are snuggled up tight. She told me, “I don’t know why I always hold his hand, I think it’s because he makes me feel safe.”
Funny, isn’t it? The most defenseless person in our house helps the most strong-spirited one feel safe.
There are so many more changes from then to now, but tonight, this is what comes to mind. I thought I was dealing with wreckage that could never be salvaged into one ounce of good. But there is so much beauty here in the brokenness and the hurt of it all. I’m a little stunned with it all.
I don’t think of loss and joy as two separate categories with tally marks in each leaving us to figure out which one is greater. Instead, I see them as two lines that follow our storyline, both very real and both very much a part of us.
As Calvin’s disease progresses, we’re making changes in his life. Loss continues to be a part of our story, Calvin’s story. But today, all I feel is overwhelming thankfulness for the gift of his life.
From the author’s about page: We began to pursue treatment for Calvin when he was six months old. When we arrived in the States Calvin had an MRI and in addition to microcephaly was diagnosed with polymicrogyria. It is a very rare neurological disorder that results from the neurons in the brain not migrating properly to the top of the brain to create the folds (gyria). Typically this happens in the womb between 10-13 weeks. This lack of migration of the neurons left parts of his brain malformed, other parts with small tiny folds, and overall underdeveloped. There was no obvious or known cause.