I was first introduced to Hunter in August, when I went to the Osborne's for breakfast and they read Christy's blog post about him. Precious.
I met him in real life when I first toured the creche. He has hydrocephalus, leukemia, and possibly cerebral palsy. His condition is terminal and the doctors have done all they can for him.
He lay in his crib, patient, quiet. The moment a smiling face peered over his crib, however, he came alive. His eyes lit up and a huge smile spread over his face. His arms and legs moved excitedly.
The girls said that he could mimic words, but I never heard him do it until one day when Annie came to the creche and picked him up and sat on the front porch with him. "Hunter," she said. "Hunter. Hunter."
"Hun-ta," he repeated, and his characteristic smile lit up his face. "Hun-ta." Excited with his achievement, he started bouncing up and down on Annie's lap.
|(Note: The white powder is cornstarch. They dust the kids with it to alleviate sweat.)|
Every time I go to the creche, I make it a point to greet him, touch him, smile at him, sing to him, and pick him up and take him outside if I can. But for a long time, he never mimicked words with me.
Then, one day, I picked him up out of his crib and changed his diaper. Afterwards, I held him in my arms and looked into his eyes. I snuggled his head against my chest. He looked up at me.
"Ma-ma," he said, out of the blue.
A lump rose up in my throat and I could scarcely keep the tears back. I had tried other words with him, but never that one. I never heard anyone else practicing that with him, either. Where did that come from?
With that one little word, a cord reached up and wrapped itself around my heart, linking me to him in a special way.
After that, he and I had many mimicking games with different words, and he will even spontaneously say "Hi!" when I approach his crib. But never again that word.
No child has ever said that to me before.
Ah, the power of one simple word to call forth love out of a heart. I already loved him. He was already special. We already had a good relationship going. But with that one word, a love and a tenderness blossomed within me that was beyond anything I knew for a child. Suddenly I cared deeply what happens to him. His terminal condition took on a whole new light. If anything happens to him, floods of tears will be forthcoming, whereas before it would have been a gentle sadness. Before, I had a sense of resignation to the inevitable. "His condition is terminal. There's nothing they can do. This is just the way things are." But now, I have the will for him to live, to live and not die, to be healed, to gain strength, to run around and play, to learn things. That's impossible, though, humanly speaking.
"God," I plead, raising my eyes to heaven, "Am I allowed to want that? Dare I pray for his healing? Would you...could you...can I ask you for the impossible? Life, strength, health?"
Logic warns me that it's too dangerous to love. "You're setting yourself up for too much grief."
But you can't just turn the clock back on love like this. It's too late. I already love. I can't just un-love because logic suggests that I do. And I wouldn't, anyway, even if I could. I wouldn't close off my heart. It's precious to love. There is sweetness mingled with the pain and vulnerability love brings to a heart.
I will love Hunter in his life of illness and confinement. I will treat him like royalty. We will have happy times together. I will treasure the moments we spend with each other. And I will trust God to do what is best for him.
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