Last week was the most agonizing week of my life.
My wife is 24 weeks pregnant.
In late August, we went to the doctor for our midterm ultrasound.
It was supposed to be quick and easy. We were excited to see the baby, the fingers and toes, the heartbeat, all the fun stuff.
But a few minutes into the appointment, our excitement turned to tears.
The doctor saw something that “needed to be looked into.”
He shared with us the possible implications of what he saw, and it was the last thing we ever wanted to hear.
A few days later, we did a follow-up test, hoping it would turn out to be nothing.
But the follow-up test led to more tears, an amnio, and more tests.
Then we had to wait on the result…
I’m guessing some of you have faced this kind of uncertainty before, where a life hangs in the balance.
We weren’t talking about something that could be treated. We were talking about life and death for our baby.
Yoga and meditation are supposed to train you to breath through these kind of moments, but it was hard to hold it together. My mind went to some dark places.
And it took so long for the test results to be processed.
All day Friday.
All day Saturday.
All day Sunday.
All day Monday.
All day Tuesday.
All day Wednesday.
For over 150 hours, we paced, pondered, prayed, and wondered if our little baby was ok.
It was like my wife and I were locked in solitary confinement, or some kind of life detention, forced to repeat over and over…I AM GRATEFUL. I AM GRATEFUL. I AM GRATEFUL.
I wondered if we did something wrong, how we deserved this, how could we make it right?
I don’t usually talk about God in my blog but never had I felt both closer and farther from God.
On the Tuesday of this ordeal. I gave a corporate speech in Orlando on why “happy is the new healthy” and ironically right before a political debate between Karl Rove and Donna Brazile, interim head of the Democratic National Committee.
There was a part in my speech where I talked about what happens to a human being in the midst of something difficult or uncertain. In such moments, we tend to say “Woe is me. Why is this happening to me? We tend to duck, cower, hide in the shadow of uncertainty.”
Then I came clean to the audience in Orlando and shared what my wife and I were going through. Last week, we had moments where we just wanted to duck, cower, hide.
And standing there in front of 250 people, I remembered my own advice. Uncertainty is part of the human experience. And it is not confinement. In its midst, you have to keep moving. Life doesn’t stop.
But over those 150 hours of not knowing, each time I saw my wife’s number on my phone, my heart stopped. Was she calling to tell me that she heard the test results from the doctor?
Finally, on Thursday, we received word.
The baby is ok.
I write this to you today having gone through the most vulnerable period. I am a changed man.
During these 150+ hours of waiting, I struck hundreds of deals with God, to be a better man, to do more for the world, to give more to charity…anything to let my child be ok.
I never prayed more or prayed harder in my life. I prayed at the gas station, at the airport, at the coffee shop and then I put down my coffee and before I prayed at the airport book store, where I saw just the book I needed to see.
When Breath Turns to Air
You’ve probably heard of it. It’s the story of a 36 year old neurosurgeon named Paul Kalanithi who was approaching the pinnacle of his profession. He was about to be rich, prestigious, legendary.
And then he developed terminal lung cancer.
His wife and he decided, in his few remaining months or years of life, to have a child.
And Paul Kalanithi wrote a note to his very young child:
“When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.”
i thought he described so beautifully the joy that a child brings to a parent.
It’s a joy i know so many of you reading this can share.
It’s a joy I know so many of you are one day hoping to have. I wish more than anything for you to experience it.
And in that moment, reading that note by Paul Kalanithi, to think there was a chance I might not get to meet our baby. That was painful and dark, and that moment has propelled me toward a new mission
FAMILY and HEALTH.
When those things are in doubt, you find yourself totally disoriented…in a barren desert
Over the past week, I wished I was better prepared on walking through the desert, handling uncertainty.
But on Thursday, I was lucky enough to have good news, to move forward with my family and my life.
Now I realize, that is the greatest dream I ever had and ever will have! You can take anything from me, put any obstacle in my path.
So long as there is family and health, there is another glorious day of life.