As we bring this year to a close, I first wanted to thank you for continuing to diligently follow along Townes’ story. He is the coolest kid I know and its my greatest honor to hang out with him every day. And oh boy, I am so thankful I like to learn because he is teaching me a lot.
In some ways, it feels like we were celebrating his one-year birthday yesterday and in other ways it was ages ago. One of my closest and dearest friends told me years ago (way before Townes was even a blip on my radar) when it came to raising her children, that the days are long but the years are short. Never has a statement morphed into an ideological truth that resonates deep within my soul.
In one year, I’ve watch him develop and grow. What a gift! Didn’t he just start crawling (late December 2020/January 2021)? Didn’t he just take his first step (February 2021) and then start gaining confidence walking? Now he is running…everywhere and yes, sometimes his body goes a little faster than his feet. His new favorite game is chase – at first, he would get dog treats and run as he quickly learned the treats enticed Luna to follow closely behind. One time, he even got the whole family involved in his game of chase as I chased Luna and Scott chased me. And oh boy, you can imagine how tickled he was with himself. To hear is laugher is the most beautiful music.
Over this last year he has had many firsts which I am so grateful for as we introduced him to the thrill of traveling and look forward to many exciting trips together. He loved the beach and the mountains and has now officially traveled to more states at his age than I did. Scott even talked me into getting Townes a passport…so who knows what adventure may ensue in 2022.
Townes is still enthralled with his pup, Luna, and throwing her the ball. Just recently he would not allow me outside in the front yard but demanded Luna come. I stood at the door watching as he took the ball thrower, climbed onto the chair on the porch and proceeded to throw Luna the ball by banging the thrower against the rail so the ball popped out. Luna would retrieve then drop the ball through the railing. And so the game continued…
And while he loves throwing the ball inside too any ball…a new game he has invented is alien soccer. Yes, you read that correctly…he, very adorably, demands Scott stand at the bottom of the stairs while he positions the soccer ball at the top then he runs over grabs a strainer from the kitchen for he and dada (of course) and then they kick the ball back in forth. His little imagination is working overtime and I love it.
We have had a so much fun this December leading up to Christmas. He loves pointing at Santa whether it be a blow-up Santa or Santa in a book…seeing Santa though, well that was not as magical. Let’s just say he stuck to me like a bug on a sticky pad; so as a 38 year old I now also have a picture with Santa (insert laughing emoji, ha).
These last few weeks though I have found myself in a game of tug and war between joy and grief. I’ve felt myself feel on the verge of tears when normally crying is the furthest thing from my ability. My mind has wandered to our donor family often and my heart has been in a state of lament.
The more I watch my son and I marvel at this little human the magnitude of what ‘might have been’ becomes weightier. As we walked through the process with Townes, we held the thought that we may actually never come to know him captive; we didn’t allow this ‘what if’ any space in our mind’s eye. But now, not just loving him but getting to know him makes that thought too much to consider. His life and all these tiny minuet moments and the big ones were not promised. I almost wasn’t afforded the opportunity to watch my child grow up.
And through grappling with these sometimes-constant thoughts, my heart drifts to our donor family and what they have lost. To the memories, experiences, and tiny moments they once believed were certain that are now no longer. Each time my heart breaks a little more as I continue to grieve for them. There are questions I have, and I am sure they have but no answers exist, at least on this side of heaven.
This year Scott and I have had the honor to connect with two other families in this small niche that has become our world – organ donation. But in this case, these families are on the donor side. Each time I hear their stories and speak to them about their sons, I weep after, but these women are filled with joy. The Lord has strategically and oh so carefully sewn up their brokenness. This doesn’t mean there isn’t still mourning, sadness, grief or tears for the ache they feel by not having their sons here but in these women there is also a light, a joy and peace. There is a grace and wisdom in the road they have traveled thus far – in them, strangely enough, comfort is found for me.
It’s a strange paradigm I mull through dancing between the elation I feel to celebrate Christmas with my son and the grief I feel for our donor family. Will you join me in continuing to pray for them this season.
Through these last few weeks, I have chosen to sit with Jesus many times over. During one of my quiet moments, my thoughts drifted over to the Christmas hymn, ‘O Holy Night’
O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope – the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
Oh night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by his cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the Wise Men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in a lowly manger,
In all our trails born to be our Friend.
He know our need – to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise His Holy Name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
While I do not have the answers for some very hard questions or explanations for unimaginable pain like so many others we who find themselves trying to find an equilibrium between joy and sorrow in this season, I believe the simplest of answers are found within the lyrics written in 1847.
Jesus is the answer for our sin and for our pining (suffering, especially from a broken heart). Oh, how my heart burst when I discovered the meaning for pining to fully grasp its very definition is a broken heart. Then as my eyes fell on the next lines, ‘to declare that Jesus came so my soul would know it’s worth because Jesus is the thrill of hope (great expectation of good) so we as the weary world can rejoice’. Hallelujah!
Can’t you picture all the angels dancing and praising knowing the birth of the Savior was a gift and redemption for all God’s children!
And then to think these Wise Men (who were really Magi or priests in earlier religions—not Judaism) traveled by faith after hearing of a Savior being born only being led by a light. Isn’t this what we share with them? Faith that Jesus is the Savior, and he is the light that leads us through the valley and to the mountaintop, who leads us through the choppy waves but also still waters?
Oh and what comfort to know that our Savior, Jesus, was sent to us as a baby who grew in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52) so that he could be our friend in all our trials. Jesus wants us to know that in our heartbreaks, in our disappointments, in our hurt, betrayal that we have a friend in him. Oh, what hope is found!
So, while we walk through feelings that are real may we know how to find the truth. For us Townes will undergo another heart biopsy in March. Originally the plan was for this to occur at the three-year mark, but our doctors recently told us they would like to proceed now. We believe it’s a precaution but still…we hold those thoughts and fears captive. Until then we must lean on the truth found within the greatest and most holy book of all time.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of a man who would come to bear the weight of the world (54:3) and the fulfilling of this prophecy is written in Matthew 8:17. My prayer as we celebrate this Christmas is that you may be reminded of a Savior that was born and together let’s praise him whether in brokenness or wholeness. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) Soli Deo Gloria, Amen.
Happy Birthday Jesus –
Maleah, Scott, Townes (22 months) and Luna