BABIES MADE OF SAND (part 2)
Before my son started to slip into oblivion I wrote in my journal “To have a child with DMD is to cradle a baby made of sand. No matter how hard we try to keep them together, they break apart and slip through our fingers. There is no stopping it.”
I agonized that my son was slipping through my fingers and I couldn't keep him together. In his final days I could scarcely hold a handful of him – there was little of him left and he was blowing away by the winds of change.
As long as I can remember I always wanted to be a father; I loved children and I couldn't wait to have my own. Only when my wife and I started our own family did I begin to understand the depths of love – how deep, wondrous and beautiful the journey of parenting can be. Once I began to hold my babies in my arms, when I learned how to dry their tears and carry their sorrows, to make them giggle and help them take steps into a brave new world … only then did I begin to understand, perhaps only on a primordial level, what our Father feels about us. He is, after all, our Dad.
While I did all that I could to protect my children from harm, I also understood I couldn't always rescue them – that sometimes they needed to work out their own troubles, even if I stood nearby should they needed a helping hand or words of encouragement. Were I to rescue my children from the little troubles they would not learn how to solve problems and soon find themselves in much bigger trouble. A delicate balance parenting is. Natalie and I understood that in our struggle are we made strong – and insulating our children from struggle doesn't help them, it hurts them in the long run. I know our Father understands this better than anyone. He didn't send us here to build cities, riches and other things – He sent us here to build our souls by the sweat of our brow and the toils of our heart. All that is material is simply immaterial, in the end.
So there I sat at my son’s bedside with tears running down my neck – holding my baby made of sand. I, too, was very much a child at heart and looked to my Father for guidance. I knew life was meant to be a struggle of the soul but, being human and a frightened child, I still prayed, even begged, He would somehow rescue my son and family from such a sorrow. But if not, I trusted the wisdom of my Father, and on bended and broken knees I followed Him.
Although I always longed to be a parent, I never knew fatherhood would come to me at such a heavy price. There have been times my sorrows have been so deep that I wished for death, for such would have been a sweet relief. Yet in my sorrows and in my grief, I have learned about our Father and His unspeakable peace. It doesn't always stay and sometimes it’s rather brief … just long enough to let me know my Father is standing nearby, should I need His helping hand and some heavenly relief.
I am grateful for a Father, who is so much wiser than I; who knows when not to rescue and stand quietly nearby. I am grateful for a Tutor of the soul so infinitely wise; who knows it’s in our struggle we learn to see with heaven’s eyes.
As bewildering as this journey has been, I wouldn't trade my time with Mitch for all the peace of mind or riches of men. Though I stumble and often weep, I will bear the burden of grief with gladness … for Mitch was mine to love and to keep.
When I think back on my baby made of sand, I realize at once, such is the fate of man. There will come a day I will see my son again, no longer grains of sand, but a soul immortal and beautiful … masterfully shaped by our Father’s hand.