For Cannon, on his third birthday
He came into the world so easily—one push, two pushes, then a baby boy on my chest, with a precious little face that mirrored his daddy’s from the very beginning. We wrapped him in a yellow, gray and blue blanket, the one he still spends every night with, and brought him home the day before Mother’s Day. I wish I had written more during those first few months of his life, or maybe taken more pictures. I don’t remember them like I want to, or like I remember them with his big sister. The details escape me every single time I try to recall them and for this, I feel so guilty. But I do remember that everything about him was gentle: the way he slept, his smile, his cuddle, his coos, even his yellow, gray and blue blanket.
But three years and three kids are not kind to a tired mama’s memory. And when we add the hazy details about when it all started to change, when the gentleness faded into disconnection and the coos stopped attempting to become words, it gets even hazier. It was an eighteen-month well-check, then a speech therapist, then a special school, then a specialist, and a hundred thousand moments of is this what I think it is?
It was. It is.
The tears still come, all the time I’m afraid. I would love to report that we’ve moved in to the rhythm of autism and we’ve got it, but that’s a lie. All we’ve got is Jesus, but that’s enough.
Because even through the fog that has been the last three years, and the way it got so thick and scary since the diagnosis, I do know this: when something is wrong, you have to make sense pretty quickly of a God who only does what is right. And this does not happen in a few peaceful quiet times and some tranquilly answered prayers in a journal. For me, it has been more like a street fight, questions thrown like punches and protests of my heart held out in self-defense. A broken record of Why? How? When? My fault? on repeat in my head the whole time.
It took me many months to understand I was asking the wrong questions. The only one I really needed answered was who?
The simplicity of it all still catches me off guard, because the everyday reality of life is anything but simple. I was drowning, spending all of my strength to keep my head above the water and when you’re working that hard to just fight the current you cannot hold anything else. But a new question and a new answer came in like a life preserver—it didn’t take me out of the ocean but it allowed to catch my breath, rest, and not have to fight so hard. It told me we would make it.
The answer to who was this: a perfect God, and a precious little boy.
If God had not given me Cannon, I wonder if I would have ever cared to look and learn how big He truly is? I could not even see the shoreline from where I was, yet God holds the entire ocean in the palm of his hand. This, still, is the most miraculous thing in the world to me.
The road ahead is long, and it is for a lifetime. I won’t pretend that the lessons are done being taught and that we can wrap this all up in a pretty bow and call it complete. In fact, I think it’s the opposite. After the hardest, most tear-filled year, I think we are only just starting. But if at one time I was drowning and unable to see the shore, today I have a life preserver and I do, very clearly in fact, see the shore: it’s God’s glory, his eternal purpose and redemptive plan for all of life. It’s not going to be easy to get there, but we will.
I went in to watch Cannon sleep last night; he is still so gentle in everything he does, even in his sleep. As I watched his chest rise and fall all I could think about were the words “It’s your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise…” God’s breath, Cannon’s lungs, my praise. And then I thought about this: we are never really drowning when God is doing the breathing.
I had no idea three years ago what life would look like today. And I have no idea what it will look like in another three. I know so much more and so much less at the very same time, and I am ok with that. But it’s His breath, our lungs, and for His glory. And I do know that’s enough to get us to the shore.
Cannon Lee, who would I be if it weren’t for you? Love you forever, sweet boy. We will get there together, I know it.