happy birthday, son…

One of the things that puzzles me is how we react to life…

We can be so flippant, so callous. We can behave or believe as if some lives are better or worth more than others. Every time I fall or see someone seemingly fall into that shallow societal trap, I sense we are clearly missing out on some beauty or blessing specifically designed for us. There is so much to learn when we see no life as different.

One of those nothing-short-of-profound blessings happened eighteen years ago today; please oblige a more personal  —  albeit meaningful  —  post. One of my absolute, most favorite people was born on this day in 2001.

There wasn’t a whole lot of fanfare at the time; in fact, I remember significant worry, as we awaited word of how extensive a life-threatening heart defect would be. I now kind of wonder if the heavenly realms were cheering mightily that day. I couldn’t see it right then. I see more clearly now.

It did take some work to shed some of the initial shock and sting; take the geneticist’s words, for example. I don’t doubt he meant well.

He walked into labor and delivery, no more than an hour after birth, and began with zero salutation. He simply said, “This must be the saddest day of your whole life.”

The blank stare on my face was neither horror nor offense; it simply was a “wow… you don’t get it…” His words made no sense. A chromosomal condition may not be something one prays for, but every child comes with a few unwished for hurdles. Some hurdles are just a little more obvious.

Every birth is a miracle. Every life is a gift. My son is no lesser.

So on birthday number eighteen (a day in which his exuberance cannot come close to being contained — I exaggerate not), allow me to share a little more about my amazing young son…

  • He is witty and funny and bright.
  • He is engaging and inspiring and is better with people than most.
  • He is humble and kind.
  • He isn’t judgmental; he doesn’t let crap get in the way of people.
  • He likes pizza… and nachos and pretty much anything associated with queso. 
  • He finds food to be a bridge to community and connection… (yes, bright, I said).
  • He is brave.
  • He is inspiring.
  • He is adventurous; in fact, he wants to ride pretty much everything at Disney, which is a wee bit more than maybe one or two of his parents.
  • He can be stubborn — “determined” is the nicer word.
  • He is quick to ask for forgiveness. 
  • He loves music, motorcycles, and all things Batman.
  • He proudly calls his gold jewelry “ice.”
  • He wants to be a pop star.
  • He can sing most every song by the up-and-coming boy band “Why Don’t We” and also by Eben, our long-time, adopted family member.
  • He loves Zipper, our cat, and Yogi, our dog — but he will quickly admit he loves Zipper more.
  • He is good at making videos — especially on Mac’s iMovie; he’s been working on his grad video for 3 years!
  • He is also good at XBOX — especially NBA2K and WWE.
  • He’s becoming a Buccaneers fan (easier than the Bengals this year).
  • He has posters of Steph Curry, Michael Jordan, and Tim Tebow on his wall; much to his “funcle’s” delight, he prob still likes LeBron more.
  • He adores and admires his two older brothers.
  • He is cherished by them.
  • He has a special relationship with his older brothers’ best friends.
  • He is treasured, too, by our extended family, who have always been “for” him since the day he was born. 
  • He has great friends ranging in age and stage across the country — from New York to Arizona. Of course, his love of the land in Ohio is included along the way.
  • He has the gift of encouragement.
  • He has the gift of the rap.
  • He sings at the bus stop more mornings than not. Loudly.
  • His faith is solid and contagious; he likes to sit in the front row at church.
  • He has great joy, lots of patience, and one very special extra chromosome. 

In Josh I have learned much. The reality is that because of Josh, I have grown in ways I otherwise would have not…

… through the beauty… through the blessing…

Every life is a gift.