I was choking for each breath - begging - begging God - For the life of my newborn son. His tiny life was hanging by a thread. His mother had survived a harrowing delivery and a nearly-fatal episode of shock. The doctors were right on it and she was going to be ok - we all would - if our little boy could just hold on. The previous 12 hours had been a walk through the sort of hell Dante would envy.
I was oblivious to anything around me, trying to make a deal with God - along with every ounce of my being - that he stop my heart, cold as stone, right then and there. I would gladly give up this life, and everything in it - if my little boy could just hold on.
He was small - spindly and sickly, fragile and frail - and he carried the authority of heaven. He was a living love-letter from my grandmother on the other side.
I knew also,right from the first soft fitful cry, that I would never again be whole. The part of me that was everything, now resided in this small wisp of a child that lay lingering between heaven and earth - as if making up his mind.
I'd believed in God all my life, but I could not hold belief in any God or being, that couldn't see how badly we all needed that little boy -Who couldn't see what he had made. Who would be so selfish as to take him away.
I tried not to believe but I had nowhere else to turn. I walked in a slobbery sobbing fog across the street and into the park. It was right behind home plate that my knees buckled, and I fell like a stone. I could no longer breathe. I asked again - I pleaded in vain - "God please" "give him my life" - "take mine".
I knew for certain in that instant, what I know today as one of the inviolable truths of my existence - I wanted no part of this world without that boy in it.
I learned that, in spite of myself - in spite of my doubts and fears - God loves even me. Every whisper and every tear of my pleadings was heard and heeded on that day - in the farthest reaches of heaven - by God himself.
I and my wife, and my precious child, were never more than a breath away from an angels loving hand that day - not for an instant. Whenever my faith is tested, I remember that, on a single February afternoon in 1985, God laid more grace on me than any fool could ever hope to deserve in a lifetime.
One of the nurses - a brilliant young woman named Linda - our own personal angel - - noticed how thick his blood was when they would try to draw some out for testing.He wasn't running right.
She mentioned it to the floor nurse after her shift with Chaz, and then to the Dr. when he showed up. When they checked his red blood cell count, it was out the roof. They immediately gave him a transfusion of regular 10W-30 protein albumin, and within a few hours his temperature, blood count, and breathing all stabilized. By evening we had a perfectly healthy and thoroughly punctured baby boy.
His hand and feet were purple from all the places they had taken blood from. He was about as big around as a candlestick - all elbows and knees. He was severely underweight and looked like a Sharpeii puppy crossed with a tire-iron. His diapers looked way too big and so did his head. When he cried like it sounded like hard work. He was perfect.
We named him after my Uncle Chuck and Kelli's father. Both good men - both extremely stubborn and both passionate, flamboyant characters just a little larger than life. We named him right.
Sadly, Kelli and I would divorce a few years later - we lost each other somewhere. -'but in that moment we were in complete agreement. We almost spoke on top of each other and I will love her forever for the anxious determined look in those beautiful blue eyes that day. "Let's get the hell out of here" ........ "Before,they come out and want him back."
When everything else in this world has gone to hell. When it's gotten dark or tricky. I remember that day. I've always known my blessings have been worth 10 times the cost - he's proof. I'm the richest man on earth simply because he's my son.
I've watched him become a young man, and watched that young man become a great man - of compassion and fortitude. A man of forgiveness and grace. - With strength and wisdom that I never possessed. I hold no claim to any of it - that's all his own.
I hope God is as kind to him as he has been to me. I hope he gets the know the beautiful joy and heartache that a son like that brings to a mans life. I didn't have sunlight or oxygen before him - I don't have those things without him. That's how being a dad works.
I want all sorts of things for my son. But what I want more than anything for him - To someday see his own loving eyes looking right back at him from the face of his own beautiful child. To feel that small warm hand, soft on his face, and to know that God has indeed heard his every prayer - in the farthest reaches of Heaven.
"Don't take any wooden nickels"