What is a blessing? Does it look like what we think it looks like?

I had a dream last night that I faintly remembered during church today. I was hugging someone and crying telling them I was just really having a hard time. It came rushing back to me when I realized that it was all very true, and I certainly have been having a rough time. I am literally sick over how much I miss Gabe recently. I almost feel like it's a craving to see him, hold him, touch him... and that can be hard to deal with since it is not possible.

I find myself trying to fill that void, staring down blogs of little ones with Down Syndrome, in awe of their little personalities, in awe of their little lives, and soon it turns me into a slightly green color of longing... Which turns into pain for the one little person that I cannot have.

Who knew half a heart and a body full of extra chromosomes would be my greatest joy and greatest loss?

What does a blessing look like?

We, as believers in God and Jesus and mercy, talk about blessings a lot.

A Christmas card I got this year said one line "I pray that you and your family receive blessings this year." Blessings was underlined, and it brought a sick feeling to my stomach.

Was last year not a blessing?

Was I not blessed beyond any measure that humans have to measure with?

When I found out during pregnancy about Gabe's heart, it certainly didn't feel like a blessing. God's blessings are like perfectly wrapped presents, right? They are definable, desirable, easy to see, right?

When God hands you a blessing, do you recognize it immediately? Do you hold it up and wave it around and say "Look how God has blessed me, I must have done something incredible to deserve this!"


God finds me desirable, and his desire has always been to give me the desires of my heart.

What if- bear with me. What if I do not know my own hearts desires?

How silly a thought, to say "I don't know what would bring me the greatest joy." But I didn't.

I didn't know, when half a heart laid before my eyes, that that half a heart would bring me the greatest blessing and the greatest joy on the planet.

Some people looked at what God had given me and said and thought... "Wow, she must have done something wrong to have that happen. It's undesirable, it's sad, it's horrible, it's tragic, it's imperfect... It's not normal."

Some people looked at my blessing and thought "Well sure, he's cute now, but wait until he grows up and he can't take care of himself on his own or have a well paying job."

They thought "If I would have known, I would have aborted him. I can't imagine raising a son who might not ever be capable of talking.. and would require so much care and effort."

Someone said "He wasn't meant to live, they should have let him die when he was born."

Someone looked at my package, no silver string, no wrapping paper, no sparkling tag. They felt that it was worthless, a dollar store present at best, and practically a curse.

I looked at my package and wondered what in heavens God was thinking when he told me I was capable of handling anything.

But I knew that he was mine, and that I would love him, and that my package was my own and no one else had gotten one quite like it.

So we took our package, as some scoffed and some pitied us, and some asked us what we thought we did to deserve such a strange gift... and we began to unwrap it slowly.

It looked different than any blessing I had ever seen. It started out so small, so unusual, and pretty goofy looking at times. It was sick, it was unlikely to live, and it was a lot of work. Our other son looked at our package and he raised an eyebrow..

"Baby." He said. It was his baby, he thought. The one Mommy had talked about. He had a tube in his mouth and his eyelids were swollen and then soon his whole body was swollen as he tried to heal... But it was our baby. It was a baby.

The package was sick, and sometimes I stared at it and I wondered if it would be here for a moment longer or if it was so temporary. "What on earth did you have in mind, God?" I thought as I touched the still baby before my eyes. But I found myself finding that my package was so unique that no one else could quite relate to my gift.

My family stared at our package and they thought "I wonder how God could put our children through so much, watching this happen to their own... How could God give them this package?"

And I felt something begin to bloom inside of myself.

Walking to the hospital to see my tiny, slightly defective, package...I ran into a man. He was in his fifties and he was mentally disabled. He was full of joy, he was loud, he was happy, he was a package I'd never seen before.

Tears fell down my cheeks as I wondered if that tiny, wilting package in the hospital would ever grow to be fifty. If he would greet people on the way by and make them smile. If my small, defective package would ever be so lovely as this.

Lovely. I stared at that man, who was clearly imperfect, and I saw him differently suddenly. Could he have been a blessing to this world? Could he have been a blessing just for me?

I held my tiny package in my arms and rocked him and stared at him and wondered over him constantly. Would he live a long life? Would he be two? Would he be one? Would he be able to do thinks like Judah could?

Our package grew sick from time to time as he healed from his heart surgery. He was so slow to get out of the hospital, and we finally were able to take him home into our arms.

I rocked him, I bounced him, I stared at him and I was in awe of him.

Someone was finding out that their child had this today, had Down Syndrome, and would be different. Was it so scary, after all? Was it so scary to imagine your gift being so different than everyone else's?

Our tiny gift turned himself up on his side, spun himself in circles and grabbed his toys. His muscles grew slower than others, his muscle tone was lower... but he was busy, just like his brother. He began to talk, telling us things in "ooohs."

He began to smile, to beam (especially at his brother) and Judah fell in love with him. He was his brother, he was his blessing.

Soon, I was afraid that I would lose him. Soon, it was time to take him in again for another surgery and another risk.

"Why God, would you give us this package... That no one understands, and then let him die?" I wondered, before he even had surgery.

I resented the thought of giving my son up after we'd fought so hard for our tiny, imperfect package.

He smiled at us, he giggled when he was tickled, he was a normal little baby. He was our special package, with eyes so deeply grey that it was hard to even stare at him for how beautiful he had become.

Then our package went away. He went to sleep one day, and that was the last time I saw his smiles, heard his giggles, felt his eyes penetrating mine.

Like a slow goodbye, we watched him fade in and out until we were sure that God had turned a blind eye on our boy. We prayed and hoped and watched and prayed... until we felt that our prayers were falling on deaf ears.

Could God give us such a unique package, and let him fade away so painfully, and take away all hope for his life that we had not only accepted, but fallen deeply in love with... and could it have been the greatest blessing we could have imagined?

Absolutely. Breathtakingly. Assuredly. The best thing that ever happened to us.


Tammy said...


Anonymous said...

You make my heart soar!

kimk said...

Gabe is a perfect package, he is still a blessing. I just wish you good physically feel him....as much as you feel him in your hearts

Anonymous said...

I feel like the tears are sitting in my throat as I have one small special package like this and cant imagine life without ; ((( mariyaf

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