Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Past

It was three years ago Christmas day that I screamed at God and wanted to know why he gave me a son I never planned only to take him away. And I was granted an extension.

It had started out as ordinarily as it could have. I was homesick, away from home, surrounded by family that I was learning to love and that was learning to love me. I was preparing Christmas lunch--eggplant parmigiana--and my husband had taken the boys to my sister-in-law's where they could play and I could cook in piece.

AJ didn't look sick. But he had cried for more than half an hour without a break, and my husband was more than happy to hand him over to me. We ate lunch, me with AJ in my arms. Even then, he always wanted to be held, never wanted to be set down. So this was normal and not cause for alarm. After lunch, I laid him down to change his diaper. He felt warm, and I asked Ilsuk to get out the Tylenol, intending to dose him once his little bum was nice and clean. Only seconds later he began to shake. Then he was turning blue. Not blue tinge. Indigo. New Levi's jeans. Everywhere. Ears, lips, hands, feet.

Thinking that he was choking, I turned him upside down and started pounding his back. I screamed for Ilsuk to call 119 (Korean 911-can you believe it?). I ran him outside. We were next to a church. A church full of people, in a small village filled with people by American standards. Surely someone was a doctor, surely someone would help us. I was screaming in my bad Korean. "Help me! My baby is dying!" It wasn't my bad Korean that stopped them because my sister-in-law was also yelling in her good Korean, and my husband was pleading on the phone for the ambulance to come faster.

I do not even remember what all I pleaded with God. I was angry, so angry. Why send a child to take him away? Why Christmas day? Why was no one coming?

Finally AJ started to cry. My sister-in-law and I were overjoyed. The ambulance pulled in and AJ was still enormously blue (although there was color starting to come back) and very hot to the touch. They immediately gave him oxygen and attached a pulse ox. We lifted his clothes and began bathing him in cool water squirted onto gauze from water bottles. His pulse ox became dislodged, and the EMT began chest compressions before feeling a pulse. It was a false alarm, but it still shook me to the core.

You do not forget seeing chest compressions on your child.

It was the beginning of months of seizures and infections. To this day, I always carry my cell phone (and it was one reason why I was so shocked when I lost it!). I always expect an emergency call. Everyday, I am thankful for another day with my children. And I am afraid to be thankful. Afraid that it will end any moment.

I also learned something else. It wasn't that no one cared about AJ. People came out of the woodwork to find out how he was, what they could do. We know how to call for help, but not how to give it. We want to be connected. We just don't know how.

And finally, I have heard so many people lately talking about choices and life and not getting what they wanted.

But there are no guarantees.

Accept it.

Bad things happen even when they ARE your kids in your house in your country. If they're not your kids, it's not your house, or not your country--those things aren't necessarily the causes of your problems. Stop blaming. Let it go.

I know this each day I see my sons, my life, my husband. We make choices to love or not to love. These are OUR choices. We cannot control others' responses, and there are times that we are so disconnected that we forget we have the choice to love. We forget that we need to know our needs, and then find ways to love over them.

And for me, brokenness calls it all back together. I can pretend I am put together, but I am not. And I have learned that neither is anyone else. So my hand is out. It is open. We can do our best to love one another. There may be no other chance. Do we choose to live ond love today or not?


  1. You are a wonderful writer sharing a very personal, painful, poignant story. I just wanted you to know that someone is reading, and hoping you keep writing.