17 April 2012

A Love Letter

This is not a love letter for Eddie although I certainly do love him. He's an amazing boy and continues to surprise us each day with new feats of skill. Today, it was eating pretzels and Ritz crackers and knocking the socks off the speech therapist, learning to growl like a dog when he can't stand the pain of his dressing change anymore, and preparing for a career on the DJ circuit with his toy truck which plays an interminable loop of "Funky Town" . . . seriously . . . watch the clip and be amazed.

This is also not a love letter to my other four amazing, wonderful, handsome/beautiful children . . . who have held together miraculously well while their parents have been MIA for the past six weeks. Seeing their little brother hooked up to a plethora of machines, tubes, catheters, pumps, and wires is hard, and yet they are all smiles when they are with him. And in the middle of all this commotion and uncertainty, they are rock solid. After years of being a providing parent, feeling that emotional and spiritual sustenance was going only in one direction (host to parasite?), I marvel at how much the tables have been turned. You, my infuriatingly wonderful children, are northing short of miraculous . . .

Nor is this a love letter to countless family members, friends, and co-workers who have visited us in the hospital, brought gifts, cared for our children, cleaned our house, cooked and delivered meals, colored pictures, recorded songs, prayed and fasted for us, or in some cases, gave us space to breathe, contemplate, cry, and regroup. No, this love letter is not for you :-)

Instead, I'm thinking about the friend I made 20 years ago . . . when letters were still written by hand and stamps and envelopes were licked (can you believe we used to do that?) When Japan seemed to be the biggest threat to the US economy and Olympic speed skating was still held on outdoor rinks (ok, so that was a pretty random factoid to include . . . but interesting, right?)

Our first date? A sweaty concert in a vacant strip mall in Provo, Utah . . . Swim, Herschel, Swim, Skankin' Pickle, and a still relatively unknown Mighty, Mighty Bosstones. We were so cool.

A subsequent path marked with abundant twists and turns, too many relocations to count, painful "goodbyes" with just as many exciting "hellos", and an inexhaustible collection of memories, I'd say it's remarkable we didn't misplace any of our children along the way (oh yeah, except for that time at the airport when we left "Janey" at the gate . . . oops!). You have always held us together (I use the second-person singular intentionally) with faith, patience, and sheer force of will.

This is a love letter for you, Sarah. Every paragraph of this post, every post of this blog, and everything that has happened in my life for the past 20 years has your fingerprints all over it.

I love that whenever I'm at the hospital alone, complete strangers ask me how you're
doing . . . because you've gone out of your way to soothe their pain when you, in fact, were desperately in need of comfort. Without skipping a beat, you volunteered me to drive a father and son to Safeway to pick up Tylenol for their son/brother who woke up feeling rotten. They were far from home, without a car, and were planning to walk the several blocks to the store and back . . . and the only reason you knew was because you thought to ask a few simple questions . . . because you knew that they had no one . . . except the sister they had in you.

It is far too late now (2am) to still be writing, so I'm going to wholly surrender and quote Donne (I feel like a college freshman for citing one of his love poems!). This odyssey of sorts we're on with Eddie has entirely changed the way I think about the human heart . . . both its physical function and figurative representations. So perhaps that's why Donne's "The Broken Heart" came to mind, but I also admit to simply enjoying the wonderful sound of the words. Say what you will about Donne, he knew how to pull those 17th century heartstrings.

I love you.

. . . What did become
    Of my heart when I first saw thee?
I brought a heart into the room,
    But from the room I carried none with me.
If it had gone to thee, I know
Mine would have taught thine
heart to show
    More pity unto me ; but Love, alas !
    At one first blow did shiver it as glass.


  1. That is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read! You all are amazing. I know there have been times when you feel so emotionally and physically weak but it is wonderful to hear how strong your love remains. Love you all and keep taking care of each other.

  2. Plethora is one of my favorite words!! I love that you love Sarah so completely! Hope you guys have a great day!

  3. Who is so in love? Ahhh, so tender! Sarah & John - you are blessed to have each other, obviously fulfilling in friendship and partnership =) Happy to see Eddie AWAKE so much and smiling and laughing - I'm sure those memories are so precious. With lots of love and prayers!

  4. You guys are AWESOME! We love that you two have each other and are so in love and such good friends!
    We are so grateful Eddie is able to eat and seems to be more stable. He's getting in shape for the transplant that we pray will come at just the right time. Hang in there. Keep up the smiles. We continue to pray every day. We love you.

  5. Oh, John, I love you that you have taken my dear beautiful Sarah, the one I met and fell in love with when she was but six years old, and have fallen so deeply in love with her. I'm so happy that she has a gentle, courageous, kind man to care for her - and to share her dreams with. And I'm thankful beyond words that she has you to carry her through this challenge you both are facing. Thank you for being her everything. . . from one who loves her so much that I named my own sweet Sarah after her. Much love, Cathie