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Blessings and Prayers

Today I’m thinking about how lucky I am. I don’t usually do that. I’m more of a “glass is half empty” kind of guy, perpetually pondering the infinite sadness and injustice of the universe, and all sorts of other self-indulgent crap.

Today is different, though. Today, I’m grateful, thinking about how incredibly lucky I am, and realizing how much I need to get down on my knees and thank God for the blessings he has given me in my life.

You see, I got a call at 3:30 this morning from my wife. She and my 9-month old son are down in North Carolina with her family, while we’re trying to sell our house in D.C. I’m staying here because I need to keep working, and because I’m never around much during the day anyway, so it’s not like I get in anybody’s way.

But I digress. Getting back to the point, my wife called me this morning in tears, telling me about my 9-month old son’s first cousin. My son’s first name is John Tyler (yes, it’s two words). His cousin’s name is Tyler. Tyler is two months older than my son, and I’ve got a ton of pictures of the two of them together on Thanksgiving and Christmas. They really are quite an adorable pair, and I always liked Tyler very much. OK, so maybe he wasn’t as beautiful as my son, but then I’ve never seen a baby who is. But he was always a sweet boy, and his parents were a joy to spend time with.

Anyway, this morning I found out that Tyler had a problem. His testicles were undescended at birth, and his doctors planned an operation to coax them out sometime before his first birthday. Well, that time came last week, but when they did the operation, they discovered that his body had re-absorbed his testicles over the past 11 months. In other words, they’re gone.

I’d never heard of something like this, and I listened in stunned silence while my wife told me about the situation. My mind raced over all the consequences that would follow this poor little boy for the rest of his life. He’ll never have children. He’ll think of himself as a freak, unless he gets some kind of implants to make him appear normal. And he won’t grow up to be a normal man unless he goes on hormone therapy, and continues it, for his entire life.

As I thought through this list of consequences, my heart went out to his parents. His Mom and Dad are both great people, and I know his Mom will stand with him through anything. But his Dad. His Dad’s a high school football coach. He and I would talk about our college football days, and I just know he’s a “man’s man” kind of guy. I can’t even imagine what he’s going through now, and I’m afraid for how difficult it is going to be in the future for Tyler, who’s going to know deep down inside that he doesn’t quite measure up to his Dad’s expectations.

And I cried for all the things I couldn’t think of, but that I knew that boy would have to suffer through.

Then I thought about how blessed my wife and I are. Our son is perfect. No, really. Literally perfect. I know that I sound like every parent in the world when I say that, but that doesn’t make it untrue. And we were so lucky to have him. My wife was quite ill before she got pregnant, and we’d reconciled ourselves years ago to the fact that maybe we weren’t going to have any kids.

Then we found out my wife did get pregnant, after all, and I started worrying about a whole lot of other things. Would my wife make it? Would the pregnancy be too much for her? Could she deliver a child and survive, as frail as she was? I never prayed so hard in my life the day my son was born.

But then he came, and we got through it. Ten fingers, ten toes. Full head of black hair, and beautiful blue eyes. Even though John Tyler spent the first month of his life in intensive care, he came out the other side as the most beautiful baby I could have imagined (and don’t take my word for it, all his nurses thought so, too).

In the months since my son came home, I’ve learned what sleep deprivation really means. I’ve grumbled, from time to time, about how difficult it is to raise a child, and about how much it takes out of your relationship with your spouse.

But hearing the news about Tyler this morning, I am thanking God for every single time I had to wake up for a 2:00 feeding, only to stay awake for the rest of the night. I’ve thanked God for every single poopy diaper I ever changed, and for every time my son crawled on top of me to get my attention when I was trying to watch TV. I’ve thanked God for all these things because He has given me a healthy, beautiful boy. And He reminded me this morning not to take it for granted again.

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