Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A changing day

It was the day after Gavin's diagnosis. I was still a mess, but trying to plow through with daily activities. I didn't want to go, but Troy and I were on our way to our board meeting, and the whole drive there I was throwing myself a little pity party in the passenger seat. Why our child? Why BOTH eyes and not just ONE? etc.. You know the whole bit.

It was rainy outside, and Troy and I parked and sat for a minute or two waiting for the rain to let up. I watched a woman pull up right next to us. She was in a standard SUV, and I could see two children in the back (one in a carseat). I began relating Gavin (in my mind) to her little baby. I thought to myself, " Oh how nice, a happy mom with her two healthy kids in her nice SUV". Picture perfect. (Yes, I was being sarcasticically mean - not proud of it). I was going through that whole day a feeling of parents not being grateful for their healthy children, etc. Earlier that day I was at Target, and found myself thinking really negative thoughts about a mother who was not being nice to her baby in the shopping cart. Not mean, but the mom was acting as though the baby was just irritating her. Yes, I have been there done that, I'm not a judgemental type of person. Far from perfect, I just try to not judge. I've been that mom just trying to get my shopping done with a whiny baby. I've felt her frustration before, but this particular day, I was being overly sensitive and just a plain old brat! I was being judgemental, and it was just a bad day.

Back to my story. I watched the woman get out of the car with her two "healthy, perfect children", and in my mind, dad was at home finishing up dinner dishes in their nice picture perfect home (yes, a jerk). Troy and I walked up to the building where our meeting was, and we had to wait outside for a few minutes for the door to be unlocked. The SUV mother was huddling next to us as we were trying to get in from under the rain. Her little girl adorable with her big brown eyes and curly hair glanced my way and smiled. The mom holding the car seat (which was exactly like Gavin's) with a big blanket over sheltering him/her from the rain and cold. The mom looked flustered, she let out a big sigh as she set the carseat on the ground as if it were a ton of bricks. Yes, I know they're very heavy, but bratty Jen in her mind was thinking "Don't sigh because it's heavy - just be thankful your baby can see!" Yes, again - I know I was being awful.

Small talk ensued. I could tell by the babbling the baby was about Gavin's age (found out they were weeks apart). We began talking and another person outside asked about the specialist, and wanted to know the diagnosis, and somewhere in the conversation Children's Hospital was mentioned. The mom interrupted (her eyes wide with what looked like a feeling of sympathy), and informed me she also goes to CHLA (pointing to the car seat) and asked what doctor we were going to see.

My stomach dropped. You know where I'm going with this.

We began talking and found out her little baby has a very serious disease. I don't remember the exact diagnosis, but his skin would blister or develop sores when rubbed against something. He had sores head to toe, and needed to be wrapped. My throat was a big ball of lumps, trying to hold back the tears. I gazed down at him, he was sleeping. He was wrapped under his warm clothes, and she showed me his wrapping under them. She proceeded to tell me they visit Chilren's Hospital several times a month, and has seen doctors at the Vision Center (at CHLA). The reason for seeing a specialist for his eyes is because he also develops these sores on his cornea, and one day these sores may cause him to be blind. They were pretty sure his odds were he would be blind.

My stomach dropped yet again, and I knew what God was doing.

Tears welling up, I kept my head down just gazing at her son. Looking at him so peaceful, but not knowing the physical pain he goes through on a day to day basis. Not knowing the anguish she goes through as a parent watching her son in pain from these sores. My stomach turned, and I was disgusted with myself. God was putting me in serious check. He knew I had no right to think the things I did, I knew I had no right - but he had to show me. My pity party, my thoughts earlier from the Target mom, and leading up this poor little baby were over. Just like that. In an instant. I am embarassed of myself to think I was being so judgemental (yes, not my most glorious moment). I was mortified at the thought I was judging another family, another poor mom, and more importantly this little innocent baby whose condition far worse than Gavin.

My compassion for others just went up a notch on the compassion scale. As disgusted as I was with myself for this, I am so grateful it happened. I could still be in my single-party-pity-party. I could still be thinking negative thoughts of others with their healthy children, when I don't know their story or where they have been. I'm glad God put an end to that escapade really quick. I was acting and thinking out of character, and SO thankful for that meeting with that little boy.

I think of him everyday, I truly do. I hope to see them soon, and reach out to them and express what a changing moment that was to me. She had no clue the impact of her crossing our lives was at that perfect moment, just a day after we found out about Gavin. I needed that meeting. The funny thing is, which is probably the most relevant part to this story was what I thought when I laid my eyes on her with her two kids. I said to myself, "How am I going to get through everyday meeting people with healthy children, and not be envious. How am I not going to be sad inside when I see other children without vision problems, wishing that was my child?"

God did what he did, and I guess I asked for it without knowing. I know I have a right to have my 2 second pity party and cry and feel sorry for myself every now and then. The difference is, that's not how I am 24 hours a day. I have my moments, and a new respect for the "...until you walk a mile in my shoes" addage. Maybe this story can answer some questions and fill in the blanks when people say I am being strong, or am dealing with this very well. That meeting made me grateful for Gavin and his condition. That meeting and the Children's Hopsital visit has completely changed my thought process regarding where we are today with our findings.

That little boy has inspired me, and made me a much more grateful and compassionate person and I don't even know his name. I don't know anything about him, except for his condition. Maybe Gavin has done this for someone I don't know just by me talking to them, kind of a paying it forward in a sense? Who knows. All I know is that was a changing day for me, and it plays a big part in my attitude. I am so grateful it happened, like I said. God was not having it, and I'm glad he didn't tolerate me for too long. It has made a world of difference!

1 comment:

  1. Jen...First of all, you have written a very beautiful post. Secondly, I can say that I have had some of the same experiences. I can remember my 'life changing day' as well and the little girl who changed my outlook. Every time I read a story about a child that is struggling with the same defect that Carlie has, I sometimes feel guilty because Carlie is doing so well...

    I'm sure Gavin has already touched many lives as well as made someone a more compassionate, grateful person and I'm sure he'll do it a hundred times over…keeping you guys in my prayers…


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