April 8, 2020
In May of 2009, our fourth child, Isaiah, came into the world. He was born at 9 am and weighed nine pounds. He was floppy and had a cleft lip but he was perfect and beautiful in our eyes. Quietly the midwife told us she believed he had Down syndrome.
We saw a doctor the next day, she said she saw no such indications. Then, when Isaiah was three days old, he kept turning a greyish blue. We went to the clinic, where they told us there was a serious problem, gave us an oxygen tank with a tiny mask and instructed us to get him to Great Falls as fast as we could in our blue Chevy truck. Upon arrival, we were told there were several heart issues, but the first and most pressing one was that his aortic valve was shutting down and he needed immediate heart surgery.
He and I were life-flighted to Salt Lake City. We stayed there for two weeks. The surgery never came. His heart miraculously righted itself. He would wait until he was five to have open heart surgery to correct the “other” issues.
And, yes, he did have Down syndrome.
At the time of his life flight, we had no insurance. After returning home, Isaiah was in and out of the hospital for respiratory distress – always in the middle of the night; a rush to the emergency room, afraid we wouldn’t make it there in time. Then, in September, the place where Jason worked laid off its employees permanently due to the recession. There was no work. We had medical bills. Jason looked for work as we fended off debt collectors and the pending foreclosure of our home.
Life was closing in around us. Every day we sat huddled in our little house trying to figure some way out, trying to see our way through. Hopelessness and fear settled in.
We fought with each other. The stress levels were out of control. Six months passed before Jason was able to get work. Each day we woke up in fear, spent our day in fear and went to bed in fear, having no idea what the future would hold; imagining each awful way it might play out.
After many months and help from the Attorney General, we were able to save our home and set things back in order. But the struggles would continue. As you know, it is hard to make a living in Lincoln.
As I look back on that time, I am saddened. Not because of the situation. We grew greatly from it.
But because we wasted all that precious time being terrified of all the “what if” scenarios that could possibly come.
We had days and days and months together – something we had always dreamed of. Yes, we needed to look for work, cut fire wood, take every odd job that came our way. But what about the rest of the time? If we had done all that we could each day, then gave it to God and stepped above our fears, we could have read books together, played games together, gone sledding, built snowmen, visited with our neighbors, helped others get their firewood.
We were paralyzed by our fear of the unknown. Yet we are still here. Life is still crazy and more uncertain each day. But at the end of each of those days, what will matter?
We all may end up stuck in our houses for weeks not knowing how we are going to pay our bills, if our health or our work or businesses will be intact when all is said and done, where we will get our next roll of TP or loaf of bread. But we can still love and encourage one another. We can play with our kids, love our spouses, help our neighbors, go outside and be a part of the beauty that surrounds us.
Don’t lose these precious days to fear.