Jesse is now twenty one months old. It has been eleven months since he survived almost an hour without a heartbeat, or at least a stable enough one to sustain his life. Many time over these months the question has been asked us, " how is Jesse doing now?", to which we have answered, "He's doing good!" Then the next question asked is usually, "but how's he REALLY doing?", to which we answer, "Well he's really doing great!" So I think it's time I elaborated a little bit to give those interested a clearer picture of what we mean by "doing great".
Eleven months ago after Jesse survived drowning, the injury to his brain left him in a coma for several weeks. When he awoke he was barely with us. His eyes wouldn't focus. We weren't sure if he could hear us, his body was motionless and very swelled due to the massive amounts of drugs the doctors had put him on. As has been stated in the past the prognosis for Jesse's survival was pretty much nil. So here we are eleven months later and we now have a boy that watches us intently when we move around his room, listens to music and loves his toys. Chronologically Jesse is twenty one months old. Neurologically he is a few months old. Jesse has been set back significantly yes, but consistent with his neurological age he is loving the little games we play with him. We hang him upside down, he puts his arms up over his head and when we swing him up again he laughs. When we count slowly to three as soon as we say two he starts to smile because he knows that a surprise is coming which is usually a twirl around or bumping him on our knee or something more physical. This shows us that his brain is anticipating what is coming. He loves us jumping out at him and yelling peek-a-boo. And he's working on his high-five.
These are all signs of a boy that is doing GREAT! Whatever we are doing, whatever God is doing...it's all adding up to Jesse coming back to us. The billions of brain cells required to live a normal life are growing 1,000 at a time and Jesse is inspiring enormous hope in his family and those following his story.
So we say emphatically, enthusiastically, "Yes, Jesse is doing Great!"
The things that Jesse is accomplishing these days I'm sure seem little to some but we know that all these little things will eventually add up to a whole new life for Jesse. If you were to point me out a mountain and tell me you were going to the top of it and I asked you to show me the first thing you would need to do to accomplish it, you would be compelled to show me a single step. A single step is not a very big thing but enough of them will get you to the top of the highest mountain in the world. This is the climb that Jesse is making. He is going from the valley of the shadow of death, across the plains, up the foothills and to the mountain peak. To some we know it may seem that our positivity is unrealistic but we his family are a daily witness to Jesse's courage in mounting those foothills and we know that he is not alone in his quest. We are fighting with him and the Sheppard is leading him to higher ground.
On that note you might enjoy this little story. A Greek named Demosthenes was once addressing an audience regarding the issues of life and death and great truths. His audience however was bored and inattentive so he told them this story.
"Once there was a man struggling with a great load. Along came another man with a donkey and said, 'Rent my donkey, and he'll carry your load.' He did. Later, as they tried to find relief from the hot sun, they began to argue over who owned the donkey's shade."
At this point, Demosthenes walked off the stage. The audience became extremely agitated, wanting to know how the argument was resolved. Demosthenes then returned and said, "Earlier, I was talking about issues of life and death and truth, and you were bored. But now you're all worked up about who owns the shade of a donkey!"
Demosthenes' audience was a shallow bunch. They tuned out issues of serious truth but were captivated with the trivial. How about you? How about me I ask myself? Do I see myself in that group? Am I allowing myself to be distracted by the trivialities of life and missing what is really important? Are you?
I confess that I have sometimes needed a wake up call, likewise one of the most amazing things that we have witnessed since Jesse's accident is the change in the people around us, not just friends and acquaintences but people we barely know at all. It's funny how sometimes you don't see any differences happening on the outside of a person until something changes on the inside of them. The event that shook Jesse's life when he drowned then survived has also shaken up so many people we have met. They have been shaken on the inside and we have witnessed the difference it has made in them on the outside. Apparently these people were always good on the inside but this event has somehow provided them a little open door for compassion and so much good has come out of them, with some it has simply poured out, like a clogged up salt shaker that has to be shaken hard, and maybe knocked around a bit before the good stuff finally starts coming out. By the way, salt as you might know is used as a preservative, and a flavor enhancer. And at the risk of getting too flowery with this, I have to say that these people have been an immense help in "preserving" our family through this crisis and positively "enhancing" an otherwise hopeless situation. We know that without so many of you we might surely have felt very alone in this challenge. Many of you have forgotten the trivialities of life, even if only temporarily to embrace the knowledge of the fragility of life and the truth that in all of our lives there exists the opportunity to pursue it's higher purposes.