You hear that there are two kinds of people: “glass half full,” and “glass half empty.” Which kind you are, well, that could be determined by your personality type. But experiences can change people, and it would easy – too easy, perhaps – to allow negative experiences to change a positive person into a negative one.It would be so easy for us to become embittered by the disabilities Namine has been afflicted with; to rail against God for allowing this to happen. But as with anything in life, in this too we have a choice. We always have a choice.
I doubt any parent who cares anything at all for their child would ever forget a day of surgery. I can recall every surgery day (though, interestingly enough, not every date) with crystal clarity. But the day that remains the clearest, even now, is the day of Namine’s second heart surgery. The first occured two weeks after she was born; the second occured in January of 2009, when she was a mere six months old.
Having any family member go through open heart surgery, I imagine, would be hard. Having a child – barely half a year old, at that – is (I am sure) harder. I was angry. No, that just doesn’t cut it. There’s no way I can clarify to you just how angry I was – I was furious. I wanted to curse God, but there were no adequate words – the emotions were just too large, too overwhelming. So I did what any idiot husband would do: I took it out on my wife. I got angry at her because I couldn’t get angry at God. He could hear me, perhaps, but He wouldn’t respond – not immediately, anyway. I couldn’t know for sure that I had hurt Him; I could know that I had hurt my wife – with words, but words are powerful too. Anger makes us selfish and childish; juvenile, stupid, petty. With a savage joy we’d destroy all we’ve built, and all too often we only realize what we’ve done when it’s too late. And then, when we’re left alone to survey the ruins, only then, we realize that we have pushed away everyone who might have helped. In hate – even towards our selves and no one else – we ruin lives.
Fortunately, my wife has graciousness and forgiveness to match my stupidity, and much more beside. I am fortunate in having her, because I don’t deserve a single bit of the kindness she’s shown me. (These words, too, are paltry, not nearly enough to describe how in awe I am of her love for me.) It took me a long time to come to the realization of what should have been obvious: I have no control over some things in my life. It seems like such a simple concept, but when faced with the possibility of losing a child, who could accept such a thing? You are forced into making a choice (even if you don’t recognize that it is a choice): you can either become a bitter, angry person, railing against whatever higher power you believe in for letting (or worse, making) this happen; or you accept it, finding a calm center in the midst of this crazy storm that has become your life.
Holding onto anger will not only poison you; it will poison everything you love. It would be the basis for divorce, creating even more anger and blame; for distancing yourself from your child, who would in turn also grow to be angry and bitter. It would be the start of a thousand fights, a thousand blames, and in the end, nothing but a thousand regrets – all for the satisfaction of a single moment.
I don’t want to live like that. I want to love my wife and child, and I want them to love me. And they do – for all my endless failings. But love sees past all that and simply accepts us as we are. Even though Namine is off the trach, even though she’s rid of her g-tube, life still pitches us headfirst into a hundred storms. But we know we’ve been through worse, and we’ve come out all right. Whatever life throws at us – we know we can beat it, as long as we’ve got each other.
I have said stupid things, and I have done stupid things. Only rarely can I say that I am proud of myself; but I am more proud than words can say of my family. I don’t deserve their love for me, but I am ever so grateful for it. I am truly blessed, more than I could ever hope to articulate, in the loving wife I have in Jessica, the beautiful daughter we have together in Namine. They add to my life and give it meaning and purpose. Everything we’ve been through together has made us stronger. Brought us closer. Through a crazy plan – of God’s, certainly not ours – we’ve been made into more of a family than we would have otherwise been.
As I was saying in the beginning of this post, we would not be the same without our experiences. But Namine is more than merely a child who was born with disabilities. She has them, but she is not defined by them. Similarly, we have these experiences – hospital visits, surgeries, and more – but we are not defined by them. We, through God’s help and each other, rise above them and do more than survive. We live. We love.