Anthony – the light of your nonny’s life! And of everyone else’s in your big extended family: great-grandparents, grandparents, mom and dad, uncles, aunts … (well no first cousins, at least yet. But someday you’ll no doubt have to share the stage, little guy. So enjoy the limelight while it lasts!).
Anthony, you are truly a gift from God. Perhaps not planned for, in a human way of thinking, but what a wonderful treasure you’ve been for all of us. I will always hold close in my heart the memory of your mommy taking her first good look at you, touching you tentatively, gently, wonder in her eyes at the amazing, perfect little person, all 3 pounds and 13 ounces, laying there in the incubator. And in that first look, all doubt, all fear of motherhood and all it means, simply gone, vanished.
It had been a rough seven months for your mommy. First the unexpectedness of it all. Then pressure from friends to “end it all” and carry on with the kind of free and happy life they claimed every 19 year old should have. Your daddy working so far away, and your mommy’s fear of his reaction. The big plans for college and career slipping away. And from the very start, sickness, stomach-wrenching sickness, over and over every day.
And yet, somehow, your mommy knew that she could never go the route her friends recommended. Having met Jesus as a little girl, she knew she must choose life. Perhaps, she thought, someone is out there who needs this baby. Someone for whom this little one will be a gift from God. Not me, I’ve still got plans. I’m too young. I don’t even know what your daddy will say. Maybe he’ll be so angry with me, that he’ll never speak to me again if he finds out. But you deserve life, little one. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve gone my own way, sought my independence from the One who has created you. I don’t deserve to follow Him. But here you are, and you deserve a chance to be all that He has planned for you to be.
Bravely your mommy got up every morning and dragged herself off to work at the gas-bar convenience store. Bravely she dragged herself through the endless days of sickness. Sometimes she was ready to give up in utter discouragement. But she carried on. Finally, when you were 5 months along, your daddy came back for a visit, and of course he had to be told the news. An amazing thing happened. Daddy was thrilled. And proud! Mommy of course was relieved. But still she doubted her ability to be the mommy you deserved. Still she could make no plans other than to just make it through yet another day, one step at a time.
And then, at 7 months, Mommy got sick. So sick. Rushed to the hospital, a hospital set up only for “normal deliveries.” Not prepared for a mommy with full-blown toxemia, and a baby in severe distress. And a nurse’s strike on, so no extra staff. And no other hospital with space to accept another emergency, even if the medivac jet were available, which it wasn’t. But God was watching tenderly, working out His purposes for your tiny, fragile life. Nurses and doctors pulled together, stayed on extra shifts, took turns napping on a cot in the delivery room, while hovering over your mommy, carefully gauging every change in both of you. The room overflowed with machines, mommy hooked up to every one of them. The doctors induced labor. And finally, you slipped out into the world.
Poor little fellow. Purple skin, no breath or cry for many anxious moments. And then a gulp of air, a weak little wail, and everyone cheered. Mommy was quickly wheeled off to intensive care, and you were rushed off to an incubator, set up quickly in a quiet corner of the nursery. Many hours later, mommy was finally wheeled over to see you. And in that first, tentative look, that first, lingering touch, all doubt vanished. God had given you to her to care for and bring up. Daddy arrived short moments later, having received a phone call at his remote work location, and having caught the first plane he could find. He too was mighty pleased to see you, and determined to be all the daddy you would need.
Yesterday your mommy phoned all excited! You had just dived in and swum the entire length of the pool, without any lessons at all. Daddy was shouting and laughing with pride. Quite the accomplishment for a little 5 year old!
Of course there have been ups and downs. The first 6 weeks of your life spent in hospital. Surgeries related to the early birth. Slow weight and height gain. And yet, through it all, I have seen the great purposes of God being worked out through your little life. Daddy grew up without knowing much at all about God. And mommy has held back, fearing that God might not forgive her for the wrong turns, the crooked paths she took back there; and also fearing to return wholeheartedly to the Lord because she fears daddy’s reaction. Yet at the same time, God is working in their lives. Daddy sits and watches those “Veggie Tales” videos with you, over and over. And takes his Bible in his pack-sack every time he heads out to work. Mommy reads Bible stories to you all the time, and I believe she prays for you when she kisses you good-night. They know! Because of you, they know God is real. They know He is tenderly looking down, and calling them to Him. And I know that soon, very soon, my prayers for your little family will be answered, and you will all be united in Jesus! What a day that will be!
Date: July 10, 2006