Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Not Afraid

“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
--Christopher Robin to Pooh(A.A. Milne)

My son, Mr. M was born in 1997 with a complete bilateral cleft lip and palate. We were fortunate in many ways. We knew before he was born from an ultrasound that he was going to be cleft-affected. He was also born with a very symmetrical cleft which made it much easier for the surgeons to repair his lip and make him look "normal".
Before he was born, we met the cleft team that would be responsible for his medical care. We met other cleft parents. We were warned about the possibility of overt oral defensiveness. We met parents whose children had been to the orthodontist 20 times and still had not allowed them to place a single bracket or wire in their mouth. We were told about all the different surgeries that his future potentially held. We were informed of the possibility of cluster defects that might not be obvious until birth and of learning disabilities which might not be detectable until age 3 or 4, or even until after he began school.

But God knew me. He knew my son. And He knew how much we could handle, and what we couldn't.

Mr. M is the bravest, most courageous, fearless boy of 10 you'll ever meet. Today at 7am, he walked into the oral surgeon's office with a large toothy grin on his face for his 12th (no...that is NOT a typo) surgical procedure. The plan was to pull six ankylosed baby teeth from the bottom jaw, continue with a third vestibuloplasty, and open the hard palate to expose and pull down his adult bicuspids. OUCH.

They were unable to deal with the bicuspids. We will go back in two months to deal with those then.

But Mr. M came home without a single tear. He has taken the Tylenol-3 prescribed, but has not whined once. His upper lip is swollen to three times its normal size. He has a large mouthguard covering his upper teeth/jaw. He can barely talk. He can only take thin purees. And yet, he continues to walk into these appointments and surgeries with a smile on his face.

And I stand amazed. I cannot claim any responsibility for his bravery and courage. I cower at the idea of having wisdom teeth pulled or my tonsils removed. I made my OB doc promise that they would only do a caesarean section on me if it was a medical emergency.

And it makes me wonder, does he entertain angels unaware? Or, is he aware?

Maybe he knows this:

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
--Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

Father, I cannot begin to thank and praise you for your hand upon my child. He continues to model for me what bravery is. He teaches me things that I would think I should model for him but do not posess. How great it is to know that he doesn't need to be afraid, and neither do I. In Jesus' name, AMEN.


Christina said...

What a brave boy you have. I am so happy to hear his surgery went well and I have to tell you that is the most adorable picture of him and his sister.

Cheri said...

He looks great Ceci! His strength is encouraging to me, so I can't imagine as his mamma the things you are learning from this young man!

Thank you Jesus for being by his side!