23 September 2011

Learning How to Love

A little over a year ago – just before Ewan was born, in fact – a blogger I read asked the following question:

If you had the power to change just one thing in your life right now, what would it be?

What might have been the most obvious answer was not my answer at all. It came as a tremendous surprise even to me to discover that my first response had nothing at all to do with Ewan’s broken heart. In fact, I had to think about what my answer would be. And in the wake of that revelation, I then had to contemplate why my answer had nothing to do with the obvious.


I remember hearing a lot of the phrase "It doesn't matter if you have a boy or a girl, so long as s/he is healthy" during my pregnancy. Once we found out about Ewan's heart, that phrase became offensive. After we found out about his broken heart, I realized the condition of health should not apply any more than the condition of sex. Of course you want your child to be healthy! But even if (God forbid) s/he is not, that child still matters and still needs everything I have to offer in the way of love.

But even I knew I was inadequate to the task.

Looking back on my answer to that question, I can affirm that it is not that I particularly wished for him or for us to suffer. If you’re familiar with the entries prior to his birth, you know how much I dreaded what we were about to face. I think it’s because I, in many ways, had come to accept Ewan for exactly who he was made to be. To wish for him to be any different was to wish for him to be a different person, and I already loved him. I wanted to know the boy I had come to cherish and protect since he was the size of the period at the end of this sentence. I wanted to know the one who had clung so fiercely to the right side of the womb for over thirty weeks, making me lopsided and wobbly -- the same boy whose feet poked through my belly, entertaining me for many days and evenings on end.

My prayers had gone from, “God, please heal my baby,” to “God, please help me to love him exactly as he needs.”

I can assure you that it was not because I was particularly self-sacrificing (or especially masochistic) that my heart changed in this way. Simply stated, it was a grace: not something I possessed within myself, but a gift given to me in order that I might see the person he was and love him, broken heart and all. After he was born, I came to see that in his way, he was perfect -- not in that he was physically healthy and whole -- but in that he was only ever exactly who he was made to be. And in spite of his brokenness (or maybe even because of it), who he was was beautiful.

He had sixteen days with us and, I think, accomplished -- and is still accomplishing -- exactly what he came here to do, which in short, is this:

His broken heart taught mine how to love.

(And I don't think I'm the only one.)