“Life is meant to be felt.” Owen had an oncology appointment today. He weighs 12 pounds 6 ounces. His tumor hasn’t gotten smaller since his last ultrasound, but it’s beginning to calcify. He’s now on two diuretics: one to help with his heart problems, the other to help with his dysfunctional lymphatic system. The tumor causes these and other issues.
That stupid tumor. I can’t wait till its gone.
This past week, Owen had surgery to repair five hernias. When the surgeon cut him open, there was so much abdominal fluid that it spilled on the ground. He struggled the next few days with fever and an incision that excessively leaked and insisted on reopening.
But over all, four-month-old Owen hasn’t seem too concerned.
Owen hasn’t known life with a body that works very well. He breathes too fast. His heart beats too fast. He’s had three surgeries and four blood transfusions. He bounces between the cardiologist, GI specialist and oncologist. His head was shaved for NICU IV’s and the only hair he has is an almost braidable rat-tail.
But the most amazing thing is that he doesn’t know the difference.
He may face blood draws or have weekly appointments or lack the ability to hold his head up, but he’s also just a baby who sleeps and eats and smiles and yawns.
And he doesn’t know yet that he’s supposed to worry.
Instead, he just does his baby activities—at the doctor, in the hospital, at the church nursery, in a grandparent’s arms, or in his often-calming car seat.
He cries. He squirms in pain and his tears are the saddest, most real things I’ve ever seen.
But he lives in the moment, whether happy with his sisters or screaming because of a blood pressure cuff.
There’s no dread. There’s no fear. There’s just now.
And I’m not naïve enough to think it will be like this forever. He’ll learn to fear. He’ll learn to dread. But he’ll also learn to eagerly anticipate. And he’ll learn to hope.
He’s teaching me the necessity of the present—where are we right now? And how can we learn to sleep and eat and smile and cry in this very moment? There’s no sense sitting in a past that can’t contain us or grabbing for a future that we can’t corral.
Instead, maybe we can learn to laugh or smile or kick and scream in the present.
We can talk in authenticity about today—about our dread and our fear but also our anticipation and ultimately our hope.
Hope never excludes today—instead it recognizes it as a necessary ingredient in our present transformation and our unknown tomorrows.
Eat, smile, sleep and cry. Do what you can do today—not what you wish you could do tomorrow.
There’s no such thing as fast-forwarding or rewinding. Instead, we have to feel— the tense relationships, the frustrating job, the kids who won’t sleep through the night, the unanswered questions.
Every situation offers an invitation to be with God—the hurt and the rejection, the belonging and the joy. And it’s only by sitting in the now that we learn to embrace the feelings as a path toward God’s deep affection.
Be still and know. Acknowledge the present. Stare hope in the face. And feel life.