I hope my son turns out alright. I guess it’s the fear of every parent. But, our family is a little different. See, his older sister is severally disabled. And, that means we live very unusual lives.
When she was born, the doctors told us our daughter wouldn’t live to 6 months. But, she was a fighter! And she persevered despite every obstacle. Hip surgeries, and stomach surgeries, and even surgeries on her brain.
When she turned 6, she wished she could be a ballerina. Make-A-Wish fell in love with her instantly. They found the best studio in the area – and my daughter got to take lessons from the pros! She loved the dancers and the outfits. And as the big day approached, they created a special role and a beautiful costume, just for her. And when she went on stage, for a live production of the Nutcracker, the local papers covered the story. Her dream touched thousands. Make-A-Wish even made a bear in her name.
After the pictures and the papers, life went back to ‘normal’: illnesses, and doctors, and surgeries. 16-years of commotion.
With all that goes on, what happens to her little brother? I say little, but he’s 13 now. He’s a foot taller and healthy as a horse. He’s strong, but I worry what all of this does to him.
His life is full of ‘accommodations’. On any given day, there might be 3 or 4 nurses in and out of our house. We rarely go out as a family – a day at the mall is a big deal. It would be easy to overlook my son’s emotional needs. But we swore we wouldn’t. On the day he was born, we promised we would do our best to give him a great life. It’s a different life, to be sure, but we try to make it rich and wonderful, nonetheless.
And all of that brings me to this morning. You see, today, my son was sick. The tables were turned. He had a sore throat and an ear ache, so we kept him home from school.
Several years back, my wife began encouraging him to talk directly to his doctors. So, at 13, he handled everything with the doctor. He explained his symptoms and every once in a while, he would look to me for confirmation. I would nod my head and smile encouragingly.
The doctor was fast. ‘You have Strep throat. I can give you an oral antibiotic, or I can give you a shot.’
Looking up at the doctor, my son asked, ‘Which works faster?’
The doctor replied, ‘Well, the shot is extremely fast. In a few hours, you won’t be contagious. The antibiotic will take a few days, but it doesn’t hurt.’
My son said, ‘I’ll take the shot.’
And I interrupted, ‘Are you sure? You don’t have to. It’ll hurt!‘
But my son replied, ‘Yes. So my sister won’t get sick.’
When the nurse came, she had a big needle. And the medicine was thick, so the shot took a long time. It was painful. But, my son didn’t complain. He was proud of his decision.
You know, I still worry if he’ll turn out alright. But, today I had a wonderful surprise. Despite the craziness in our lives, my son is not just okay. He’s remarkable.