While my own six kids were growing up, I often thought about what a wonderful blessing it was that they all were “normal.” I suppose the people that eventually married each of them might quibble a bit as to what precise degree of normality might actually qualify but I find such semantic arguments to be of limited value. I prefer that you just agree with me and we move forward in the relationship.
In particular I was grateful that their development proceeded at regular rates and they did not have particular challenges with health. Whenever I’d see other children who had challenges, I would give silent thanks for each “there but for the grace of God” moment. It didn’t take much in the way of observation or imagination to conclude that life was significantly simpler because of the good health that flowed like a river through the family.
It doesn’t take much awareness to realize that is not the case with all families. Each of them responds in their own way to the things that shape them. There is rarely any shortage of love, and, in fact, those unsought occasions often seem to bring an abundance of grace and richer depth of insight and appreciation. Though not without trials and tribulations of their own sort.
One of the greatest to bring its awareness into my sphere of realization involves the eleven-year-old daughter of a man who became good friends with several of my children years ago while they were living in Alaska.
Garey’s daughter Kennedy was born with heart defects. Whether pessimist or optimist, each of her doctors warned the family that she faced a very difficult road with very limited reason for any significant life expectancy.
Kennedy, it seems, was born for challenge and embraced a fierce determination. I have very little idea of how much time she has spent in hospitals and treatment centers, how much medication she has had to take, how many months she has spent in her very young life fighting for each moment that most of us give no thought to. I am quite sure that the totals are rather overwhelming. But not to Kennedy.
After years of hoping and praying, she finally made it to the top of an organ donor recipient list and underwent a heart transplant in California just a couple of weeks ago. Things seemed to go well at first but now she is struggling with a severe infection.
The latest update from Garey: “Kennedy will be in the hospital for Christmas. She has been transferred back to the cardiac ICU with an infection, she has fluid around her heart and fluid accumulating in her lungs. This all started happening three -four days ago. She’s been getting antibiotics, she’s been to the Cath Lab and had biopsies done of her new heart and preliminary results were negative for one type of rejection and we are still waiting on the other type to result.”
I don’t pretend to know what the next few days or even hours hold in store for this incredible fighter and her incredible father and family. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to raise a child under the constant shadow of persistent, dramatic health issues. Typically, I’m inclined to think that I’m blessed because of the many such experiences I’ve never had. But deep down I suspect that Garey Robinson has gained an appreciation for life’s precious moments beyond anything I’ve even imagined.
And, equally deep down, I’m pretty confident that we both share an appreciation for a spiritual source that is inexhaustible and indispensable. At the conclusion of the short update he posted yesterday evening, he closed with this, “But please keep piling on the prayers.”
Yes, my friends, let’s pile those up until they topple over at the very throne of heaven.