He was born early, contracted an often fatal intestinal disease (necrotizing enterocolitis), spent 44 days in the neonatal intensive care unit and, after further examination, was found to have a myriad of medical anomalies.
And I couldn’t fix a damn one.
There was one day, in particular, we had an incredibly difficult go in the NICU. The baby next door to us had emergency surgery in the bay and died. I had our curtain closed, but I could see the fast feet of our nurses and neonatologists running through the hallways. There were tear-stained shirts and bloodshot eyes. Nobody was saying anything.
Then, our doctor arrived with bad news about our son. She asked, “Can I pull up a chair and visit?”
“No,” I replied. “Because good news does not need a chair and a visit.” She smiled, sat down, grabbed my hand and told me anyway.
Seconds after she left the room, I completely lost it.
I loved my son. You know, people say that all the time. Shoot, I had said it thousands of time with my other children. But, it wasn’t until that day I knew what it meant. I loved him enough to let him go, yet somehow I felt like I was failing him as his mom.
If I sit in this chair long enough, if I hold him another hour, kiss his cheek one more time—could I love away the challenges?
There have been many moments throughout his three years I’ve wondered if I was doing enough. Was I keeping up with his therapy, exposing him to new things, challenging him enough, babying him enough, praying enough?
I’m not sure that it ever came in just one moment or through just one person, but as I reflect on this week’s upcoming Valentine’s Day I have been reminded of a very important, liberating lesson.
My love is enough.
I cannot fix all of Luke’s challenges, I cannot wish the bad days away, but I can love. I’m his mom. I gave birth to him and no one on this planet knows him better than I do. My love IS enough.
As singer and songwriter Brandon Heath shares in his song, “Love Never Fails,”
“…love is the arms that are holding you,
Love never fails you.”