Sometimes it feels like a billion years. And other times like a hot second.
Just ask any mama of a preemie baby and she’ll say the same. My gray hairs (that I now expertly color) prove it.
Ten years ago today, at exactly 5 p.m., our whole world was flipped on its head. Ten years ago today I learned just how real God is, how much I depended upon my husband, how great our extended community was and how little control I really had.
Like, zero control.
When I speak to audiences, women’s groups, medical professionals, other moms and unsuspecting friends, I find it ironic. The deepest, darkest valley of my life is now the one I celebrate, embrace even. The bombs change us if we let them.
It doesn’t mean they aren’t hella hard, but it does mean that God really can redeem anything.
Our family is living proof. Please don’t ever give up hope that God can redeem your cross.
I mean, just look at this.
This face that was once covered in wires and tubes is now sprinkled with freckles. Those lips that refused to eat solid food for four years now tackle a burger like a ravenous lion. That head was once shaved and sliced open is now home to the very best “Luke curl” there is. That heart, that once sported two holes is now healed and healthy. Those eyes that cried so many tears? They sparkle with mischief, mixed with love. Those feet that wore braces for years now carry Luke swiftly around the block as he runs to catch his siblings. And the gut that almost killed him three times is healing and learning how to grow.
To the mama who wonders if her child will ever look like this? Don’t give up hope. Your miracle may be smaller or come in different increments, but progress isn’t measured in accomplishments, it’s measured by how much bigger your heart grows. And, sometimes, it has to break wide open first.
With the passing years, the acute sting of Luke’s entrance into the world has softened. It won’t ever leave, but it has faded, much like the physical scars Luke carries from his seven surgeries, my soul bears them, too.
Luke, here’s to ten of the best, most soul-gutting years of my life. It’s nothing but up from here, kiddo. This letter’s for you.
We started off the year with some challenges. In fact, I felt like we were starting to slip backward. And then, a whole lotta Jesus. These last few months you’ve really hit your stride – academically, physically and behaviorally. What a tremendous gift to see it transpire.
You eat all the things – except gluten. That’s soooo overrated. You’ll never turn down nachos, a burger, Torchy’s queso, Dr Pepper or sweet tea. Your favorite thing to do is be outside with the big kids. It doesn’t matter what they’re up to, you just want to be a part of it.
Your social skills have to be a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10. I still tell your doctor’s things like blowing up a fist bump or falling like a tree should be on the developmental milestones check sheet.
You may be tough on the outside, but you’re heart is so very tender. You’re acclimating to life without your big brother Will who’s at college (that’s the double heartbreak right there!) I love that you still hold my hand at Mass and snuggle in my lap at bedtime. Life experience has taught me I’d better hold on to those moments, they don’t last long.
I’m not sure there’s a bigger fan of Patrick Mahomes or DudePerfect. If there is, you’d surely win. NASCAR race driver is still at the tippity top of the future career list which means I’m buying life insurance and investing in heart medication.
I’ve never seen a kid go from zero to sixty like you do, but your apologies get me every time. It’s that spunk that kept you alive, I’m 1,000% sure of it.
May life in double digits bring about transformation, beautiful memories and experiences, progress and big love. You’re the heart of our house. How did we ever live life without you?
Happy birthday Luke!