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“PEOPLE I LOVE” Week – Day 5


Mercy and Healing

This is the greatest love of all. The love God shows me. I have been obedient at times in my life and I have been downright rebellious in my life. God always loves me. Even when I walked away.

In 2006 my son was born. The delivery came fast and complicated.  After a rushed surgery, a beautiful screaming baby boy arrived. He was perfect, and yet there was a sense of “what if” amongst the hospital staff.

The next day, they arrived to share their suspicions that this gorgeous baby was blessed by Down syndrome.

Having zero experience with the syndrome; panic and grief gripped me. Health problems, heart defects, mental retardation, hypotonia, and on and on and on. The depth of despair was deep, and I had not known grief that intense since my mother passed away 7 years earlier.

I once heard it described as “grieving the dream.” My imagination carried away fears and worst case scenarios based on having no knowledge of Down syndrome.

I was a specially trained SWAT Operator, former undercover narcotics agent and a highly fit triathlete. Yet, he and I were helpless, as he lay in his crib sprawled out in a condition the nurses described as being “floppy.”

I could not pray. I did not pray. I would not pray. I was freakin pissed at God, and refused to go to Him.

That evening I called to check on test results for someone very dear to me. There were suspicions of vision impairment. I began sobbing in the hallway of the hospital as I shared the Down syndrome diagnosis.

Then I was asked the question still seared into my soul, “Can you cry some more?” How do you answer that? How does a person possess the capacity once drained of hope, to know more sorrow?

The diagnosis was retinitis pigmentosa. This dear sweet teenager, who I love wholly would lose their vision. Gradually or immediately, this cruel eye disease, RP had already taken away most of it.

Have you ever ached so deeply in your core that speech escapes you? Have you ever wanted to surrender this life, but were too afraid to even think it? Have you ever wanted to shake your clinched fist at God, but were unable to move your hands from your silently screaming face?

I am trained and excel in crisis situations. I thrive being on the edge. Not like going fast on a bike downhill, but facing mortality while confronting armed criminals, or completing an undercover drug buy from a meth-fueled psychopath. That edge. Life’s edge.

That night, I was helpless, worthless and empty. I wanted to yell at God and tell Him how much I hated Him for what He did. I did not even have the will to move forward much less start a fight. But I was full of sorrow, hate, and defeated.

I uttered something incoherent about leaving. Trapped in a hospital special care unit, I had no idea where to go. I needed out. To escape. I was about to violently implode. I needed solitude.

Stepping onto the elevator, I saw an old lady standing alone in the deepest corner of that metal box. I knew the rage in my face would frighten her, so I held my head bowed and away. She said, “How are you son?”

I began to cry silently and though only about 5 feet tall, she reached up and pulled me onto her shoulder. Apologizing for the outpouring of grief, we began to talk. Then she said something about it being okay, and I was not that tough.

Thinking she referred to my work in law enforcement, I explained it was a part of my job to remain strong. She sweetly replied, “Your mother was strong. You don’t have to be.”

“You knew my mom?” fell out of my mouth. No. Her husband was in the hospital after falling during their 60th anniversary trip back to New Orleans where they first met. They were from up north she said.

I walked her through the large, vacant, open lobby. She spoke so comforting I had not realized I was laughing at her attempts to be funny. She introduced herself as “Waverly,” and as she spoke that name, her flat northern accent sounded familiarly like the southern drawl of my mother’s voice.

Have you ever smelled the sweet aroma of sound? Then I realized she had no husband in the hospital, nor was she staying in the adjoining hospitality rooms for families. She hugged me and said “I love you.”

Walking away, she disappeared into the empty hallway. As strong, as highly trained, as physically fit, and full of fury I was for a battle with God over such sorrow; He sent a fragile, sweet old lady to open my clinched fists.

God can take your questions, your anger, your shame and your sin. He showed mercy to me in that darkest moment, and healed my shattered spirit with the sweet embrace and voice of an angel named Waverly.

Mandisa’s “He is With You” is a great way to finish this week’s “People I Love”

Thank you for allowing me to share with you. May God bless and protect you, even when your greatest threat is to yourself.
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