Introducing Terror

4 years ago (to the day) I experienced terror: not for the first time.

4 years ago, after a grueling, long, and dangerous labor, my beautiful wife gave birth to our second son, completing our family. He was big.

Over 10 pounds big.

He was such a monstrous little thing that he got stuck in the birth canal. The labor caught the hospital by surprise, despite being a planned birth, and my poor wife delivered him mostly without an epidural (they got it in for the end)…. And then he got stuck. We spent almost an hour hearing “this push should do it!”

But it didn’t.

And when he came out, he was pale, like ash, and he wasn’t breathing.

The doctor and nurses did their best to hide this fact from us. They showed Julie her beautiful son, set him in her arms for less than a second, and then whisked him away to clean him up, and try to get his lungs to work.

I was watching the doctor’s eyes.

He was scared. He’d never lost a child in childbirth. His record was amazing (one of the reason we picked him.)

And he was scared.

So was I.

The doctor had more work to do, as there always is after a baby is born: there’s still more to come. I won’t detail this, for the blissfully ignorant and the faint of heart. Julie was in rough shape, to put it mildly, after a 10 lb baby with a late epidural, and she was exhausted.

The doctor told us what was happening as soon as he could: the baby wasn’t breathing well on his own, so they were going to put him into the critical care unit.

When Julie was well enough (an hour maybe? Time started playing games with me) we got to see him… But not hold him. He was in a lung plastic box.

We spent the better part of the next week taking turns being at his side. He got to move from the box into a head sized bubble after a day or two. We didn’t get to hold him until then.

But he was strong, not just big, and he was a fighter. (That hasn’t changed)

And he got well.

4 years ago, today, my second son was born. 4 years ago I felt terror that few can understand without experiencing it themselves.

4 years ago, today, God gave use a little terrorist. (I can say that, right?)

And I’m happy he did.

Happy birthday, Nathaniel. Please stop breaking things. 😅

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Celebrating the Day That Changed My Life

Today I have the good fortune of celebrating one of the most important days in my life, if not in all of history. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

What days define a person’s life? The birth of a child? Certainly. Graduating college? Maybe. The day they are baptized? Most definitely. The death of a close friend or immediate family member? Without doubt.

But what of the days that change our lives without us being aware of their existence that the time?

Today celebrates on of those days. 

When I was a young lad, there was an unremarkable hospital in Omaha, but on this day 30 years ago, an amazing couple welcomed their 4th child into the world. This event started a chain reaction that altered eternity.

We met a decade and a half later at the birthday party of a mutual friend (that wonderful friend has since passed on, herself and her parents being killed  by a drunk driver before she’d even had the chance to graduate high school.) being the smooth operator that I was, I used my unskilled pickup lines on her and her friend. It was only later that I discovered her to be the sister of one of my coworkers.

Being a bit defensive of his little sister, Brett was relentlessly teased by many of our friends: threatening to try to date his sister as soon as he left on his mission, which was short years away. I chose to refrain from the teasing, not because his sister wasn’t ‘hot,’ but because teasing is t really my thing so much as dry and sardonic humor. Ironically, I was the only one of those guys to ever date his sister…. And the only one (so far as I understand) that wouldn’t have riled him to do so.

  

It was later still that she and I began carpooling, with my heist friend and hers (who happened to be dating). Every morning we’d all carpool together to our zero hour choir class.

It was about this time that Julie knew that she and I were going to get married…. but she wisely never mentioned that to me, or else it would have never happened. After all, despite becoming good friends, we weren’t dating. Our relationship, while flirtatious, was not really romantic.

As high school continued, it became apparent to me that she valued our friendship in a different way than I did. Oh, she never threw herself at me or anything, she’s always had better sense than that. But while we shared a deep and important friendship, her feelings for me were not yet reciprocated.

As high school came to a close (for me) that started to change. Having an awkward social code, we didn’t really date, though we did go on a lot of dates. I also dated a lot of other girls, be use my rule was that I wouldn’t steady date before my mission (in retrospect it was both a silly and wise choice). Between my senior year and hers, we went together to 3 formal dances and some non-fomals, but I can’t remember how many.

By the time I’d left on my mission, the romance was mutual, but careful. I told her that I didn’t want her to wait for me to come home, as I would make no promise other than that if she was still single when I got home we’d give it a shot, no strings attached. 

When I was visited my ecclesiastical leader to have hands laid on my head and become a missionary, she was the only non-family person invited.

She wrote me while I served the people of Detroit as a missionary, but her letters were nothing but proper and uplifting. She dated a bit while I was gone, and started college.

When I got home, the first non-family member I saw was Julie. I drove 50 miles to her town to surprise her with a visit. If any recently returned missionary thinks to do this: don’t. It’s neither a fun surprise, nor is it anything but akward. I’d spent two years as a full time missionary, spending nor having any time alone with any of the fairer sex: it was… uncomfortable.

As I left that afternoon, I had settled in my mind that we’d given it a no-strings-attached fair shot: and we’d missed. I’d go on to college in a different town, and we’d remain just friends.

She had determined the same thing.

But she had a wise roommate who recommend That she call me and tell me how nice it was to see me, that she’d like to see me again.

Thanks, Whitney, because that phone call set us on a second chance recovering from the awkwardness.

I was still counting in mission transfers when I proposed to her 1 transfer (6 weeks) after being home. It was a week or so later that we decided to be exclusive and not date anyone else. And following Paul’s council, we were married when I’d been home only 3 transfers (18 weeks).

We’ve shared some amazing times together. She suffered through my indecisiveness in college as I initially isn’t dead to go into nursing before discovering that I don’t have the attention span to be a good student (ADHD, anyone? Seriously, though, not diagnosed… But… Seriously).

She was patient as I studied the Deaf culture and ASL and the , again failing to focus on my generals (though doing well enough in the classes that actually interested me). Finally set,I got on a trade school in law enforcement. She supported me through my grueling top secret background check with the FBI, as I began my law enforcement career. She supported me as we were forced to move in with family (thanks to her mom and dad) as I graduated and waited for a police department to hire me. She supported me as that career fell apart: forcing me to choose to be a good husband and father or to be a good cop: I couldn’t do both.

All this time, she got to work her dream: to be a stay at home mother, raising our children.

She supported me through the excruciating hours of restaurant management, and was kind despite my significant weight gain (I’m a good cook… and a better eater…)

She didn’t hesitate as my failing health require me to take work farther and farther from home. Never complaining despite the fact that the first 8 years of our married life had endured 25% of it with us living in different cities.

As my health continued to fail, she didn’t complain as she had to give up her dream of being a stay at home mother, entering the work force and becoming the sole breadwinner.

You see, on this day 29 years ago and holding, the greatest woman in the world was born. Her patience and judgment is impeccable (except perhaps her judgment in men, but I can’t complain about this lapse).

Julie is the love of my life, but she was first my friend, and that friendship has held us together when the love has struggled. She has a, seemingly, infinite compassion and patience. 

I married up, and no one cand doubt it.

This year we celebrate the 10th anniverserary of my best decision, but today, we celebrate the important date that made my decision possible: Julie’s birthday.

Happy birthday to the love of my life.