Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy Third Heart Transplantaversary!

Three years.  Three years since the day that Keegan was given new life.  It seems like just yesterday and yet an eternity at the same time.  This day is so etched in my memory that when I went to sign a form with today’s date, I wrote 2007, instead of 2010.  It just occurred to me recently how much life was squeezed into those first seven days.  We’ve always known the insane roller coaster that took place during that first week, but to think that amazing journey from birth to transplant all happened in just one week  It can make three years stretch on forever. 

Today also marks a new milestone.  As of this afternoon, Keegan has officially been outpatient for an entire year.  There were times he toed the line, but he made it.  The scales are tipped in his favor now, as he has now spent more of his three years outpatient than inpatient. 

And think of how much has changed in just one year.  At this time last year, Keegan was still on 20 hours of tube feeds a day.  His entire oral diet consisted of some goldfish crackers, yogurt melts, and water.  His entire vocabulary consisted of “mama”, “daddy”, “hi”, and “bye”.  His fine motor skills were so delayed that he could not stack more than three blocks, string beads, or match the pieces of a basic puzzle.  His immune system was so destroyed that he was getting shots of a booster every single day and more at times.  From September to May, he could not venture out of the house except to go to the hospital, therapy, and grandparents’ houses, and it seemed he practically lived in a mask to try to protect him.  And, oh yeah, that little thing about becoming a big brother. 

At his birthday party today, Keegan looked every bit of a happy three-year old boy.  If you really paid attention, you could notice the speech delays or feeding difficulties or growth problems.  But if you didn’t, all you could see was a little boy having the best time he could possibly have playing with his friends, petting goats and pigs, riding ponies, and running as fast as his little legs could take him.  He didn’t cry when it was time for cupcakes, and he blew out (kinda) his candle.  He even picked up a fork and ate a few bites for the first time ever.  It was all so very, very normal.

Having Audrey join our family has taught us that this very kind of normalcy is something we cannot deny Keegan.  For three years, we’ve longed for him to just be normal, to be ordinary, to be healthy.  Unfortunately, we’ve had to isolate him and shield him from the everyday to get to the goal of being healthy.  By putting him in school, we’ve slowly started to break down the walls we’ve built for him.  So he can grow and flourish and just simply live.  It’s nice to walk into school or the grocery or a restaurant and realize that you’re the only one that knows the battles Keegan has fought.  I’ve come to treasure the opportunities that allow him to feel just like everyone else. 

But at the same time, I want to stand up and yell as loud as humanly possible, “You don’t understand.  This child is a miracle!  Don’t you see how special he is?! Do you have any idea what this child has been through?!”  More importantly, I want to scream to everyone who will listen to treasure every second they get to spend with him because we don’t know how long it might be.  I want to do everything for him; I want to keep him isolated in hopes that I’ll get to keep him longer.  But at the same time, I don’t want to look back one day and say “I wish he could have.”  I want everyone on this earth to know how lucky we are to have such a blessing like Keegan.  We thank God every night that we are able to pray with Keegan before bed – “thank you for keeping me safe and healthy and home today, Lord”…and we hope for the strength to even thank Him for the days that we aren’t able to say those words.

Because three years ago, he was given a second chance when another family chose to give him life from their unimaginable loss.  A second chance to squeeze every possible minute of life out of what he was given, no matter how much it ends up being.  Not many of us get to say that.  I don’t know how many years I will get to celebrate this miracle with him.  But until that day comes around, I will try to make things as normal and extraordinary at the same time as I possibly can.  Keegan deserves no less than that.

Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name, make known among the nations what He has done.
Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts.
Glory in His holy name; let the HEARTS of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.
Remember the wonders He has done, His MIRACLES, and the judgments He has pronounced.
Psalm 105:1-5

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