Owen is 7 weeks old, and he is now Captain Screamy. He has only two modes: sleep and yell. And occasionally he’ll pull a combo and yell in his sleep.
I know saying this makes me the mom-of-the-year, but I have to think that if he knew how annoying it is that he cries all the time that he wouldn’t do it as much. Part of me fears the results of 9 months of meth exposure is surfacing in his developing brain. One of the potential risks for a baby exposed to meth in utero is uncontrollable screaming—a consistent behavior that can last for the first two years of a child’s life. But right now, that’s the least of our worries for our son. We’re more concerned about the massive tumor in his liver. He seems too tiny to have an oncologist. He seems too young to wear a 3-inch scar on his abdomen. But Owen apparently doesn’t know enough yet to realize he’s too small to face such difficulty.
He had his first appointment with the oncologist last week. While his diagnosis remains unknown, the doctor is fairly sure Owen’s tumor is benign and will involute on its own within a couple years. He still remains at risk for heart failure, but he’s stable. If Owen does have cancer, it will be quite some time before treatment would begin.
So, for now, we watch for the tumor to shrink. We watch to make sure Owen’s temperature stays down and his heart doesn’t quit.
There’s a lot still up in the air with our sweet son.
We don’t know what next year will hold—maybe complete healing. Maybe an unwelcome diagnosis or a boy who screams all the time because he can’t self-soothe.
And while these might remain real possibilities, there’s something else that’s more real.
It’s the reality of Today.
My kids have taught me about today. Through their ever-changing lives I’ve been forced to look today in the face.
Where you are right now—this is your reality. The future looms, the unknowns shrink in shadows, but today—this is what needs your attention.
What if we paid more attention to what’s in front of us than the questions of what can happen? What if we considered the potential of the moment instead of where we need to be next?
How rich would life be if we made eye contact with a God that asks us to stop spinning and invites us to be?
Often, however, we’re too busy for today. We’re too anxious for today. We accuse the present of blocking our future efforts of success and our attempts to solve all of our interpersonal problems.
But the present isn’t something to get through—it’s something to embrace. Today isn’t a piece of humanity—it’s largely what it means to be on earth.
Of course we look forward, of course we’re motivated by the hope of better days, the hope of redemption and the hope of the present God.
But Jesus also valued the now. He walked with purpose. He looked the world in the eyes. He loved in the moment, not only with eyes toward the cross, but eyes on the sick and blind and hurting right in his path.
Answer the invitation to look in front of you.
Approach the future with hope, but approach today with your full attention.
Instead of worrying about whether or not Owen’s going to have to get more chemo, I can pick him up and watch his tiny feet. I can teach him to smile and laugh and style his baby-fine mohawk.
It’s not just Owen’s health that’s unknown—it’s everything, in each of our lives. And we can expend great energy to try to protect what we can’t ultimately protect. We can exhaust ourselves trying to hold on to what we can’t control. Or we can participate in the now.
Today whispers while tomorrow shouts.
But today is where we receive breath from God. Living in the present reminds us that no matter what, our stories are framed by the goodness and love of God. And it’s in this frame that we can sing and grieve and love and give—with arms that set aside the unknown to embrace the world right in front of us.