July 16, 2013

Well, it's been a year. It was last July when we were finally able to bring Jesse home from the hospital.  And I must say, what a change he has undergone in a year. It's like when you look at the before and after pictures of a makeover. Sometimes it's just about unbelievable, isn't it? But Jesse's make over isn't just in his looks though when we encounter people who haven't seen him in a year, typically their first response is, "Wow, has he ever grown!" Jesse though has grown in so many ways other than just physical. He has gone from silent, disconnected and emotionally bland to constantly expressing himself through an ever growing full range of vocal sounds and a cute little happy personality. He knows well all the little games we play with him and looks for more and more of them when we stop, just like any well child would.


As his family we look back over the year and honestly feel good about every decision we have made on Jesse's behalf. We've often laughed through past years at what has become almost a running joke among those who know our family well, friends have said so many times, "You know, you're not really a family. You're really a team." I guess that's flattering, but if not flattering, for the most part it holds a lot of truth and I have to admit that we certainly seem to fit that description when it comes to managing Jesse's needs. All of us seem well suited for the roles we must fulfill, Kristin's constant love, nurturing and overall care of Jesse, Grama's mind blowing management skills with regards to, well...EVERYTHING, and my attention to this blog and most of our representation to the media. Our daughter Breanne who lives in California manages Jesse's facebook page and is constantly coming up with new fundraising events, and our son Brandon always faithfully fulfilling his role as the most incredible favorite uncle a boy could ever have.


Now I just read that last paragraph back to myself and I pray it doesn't come off like I am bragging or something, as I definitely am not!  The truth is we're probably all a little messed up in our own unique and individual ways.  Me the most though, but in my own defense I think spending a lifetime as an artist of one type or another has made me about as insane as I care to be, thank you.  What we really have going for us in our day to day journey is just this...Commitment! Commitment, you can't accomplish much or go very far without it. We look over this past year and can easily see several critical points where one could just drop out as it were, if an unwavering commitment to the task wasn't in place.  Without the commitment of our own family we certainly could never expect others to stay committed to helping Jesse move ahead.  We love Jesse. That goes without saying, but without our commitment to him our love might never have the wheels under it to get him along the road to healing that he needs to be on and stay on.


I was reminded of the profound importance of commitment recently when I saw this little event played out before me as I sat in my car in front of the big Dollar Store in our neighborhood. As I watched I recognized a very old man that moved off of our street about a month ago into a extended care seniors home with his wife. The couple had lived three doors up from us. Bill and Bernice were our neighbors for twenty years. We were both original owners of our homes.  Bill still has fairly good health but Bernice has run into several severe health issues over the past five to ten years and they have all taken their tole on her. They are both in their eighties. Bernice is very frail now, pure white haired and is probably five inches shorter now than when we first met as her spine is now a little crooked and she moves very cautiously while bent over her walker. On entering the door Bill stood by patiently waiting for her to slowly and carefully navigate through the doorway. Holding her gently by the arm he was so protective of her. I wondered at the time if people watching were seeing what I was seeing. I had hoped so because what they were seeing was a man who maybe sixty years ago made a vow to a girl to love and care for her whether they were rich or poor, whether they were sick or healthy and he promised to do so until death separated them, and that's exactly what he is doing.  And that is commitment at it's finest. Do you think he loves her less today than when that girl was an attractive, vibrant young woman? If you answered yes, you would be wrong. He loves her more. It's the commitment that holds their love together. It's the commitment that has made their lives rich enough to find enjoyment shopping at the Dollar Store together when they are nearing ninety years old.


I know, I'm just a sentimental, old fashioned, guy believing in one mate for life and all, but Bonnie and I are thirty seven years married now and our love like a healthy perennial garden has never stopped growing. It's one of the reasons that we can know without any doubt that Jesse will one day be all that he can be. The love and commitment of his family promises that.  A fully committed heart is a powerful thing we have learned, and for the many hurting families who have written us, those who today are standing on shaky ground, with marriages and children that are severely hurt, please remember this, the "promise" in union with that "commitment" will provide you with much "strength", just as it has done for us.


Today I read this promise..."For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him."  (2 Chronicles 16:9)


Bob Arrigo

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