Friday, August 1, 2008

Perception vs. Reality

Why do I always give my blog entries such pretentious titles? Because I'm pretentious.

I'm not at my best this evening. It's five 'til 2:00 a.m., and my little man Eli Bo Beli has been awake for about two hours, first with stomach pains (pretty routine, just gas), then with hunger, and finally wanting to play. He sat in my lap and batted my hand back and forth while I watched an episode of "Arrested Development." I'll have to re-watch it later, because I'm not even awake enough to tie my shoes. Also, I have a particularly bad headache, which is (surprisingly) unrelated to the lack of sleep. No one really knows what triggers them, just that when they hit, they hit hard.

I had the headache earlier today when I spoke to my grandmother. She asked how Elijah is doing, and there was real excitement in her voice. Everyone knows that the boy is fast approaching 14 pounds, and Melissa and I know better than anyone that his weight gain is something that only occurs when he is in the best of health. What a chubby little kid! So many factors have to fall into place like puzzle pieces, and right now, they are. I rewarded my grandma with the news she wanted to hear: that he's been in a really good mood all day, playing well with Miss Kim (his wonderful nurse), wearing his arm braces without fussing, practicing sitting up on his own.

There's no way to type these achievements without feeling a real sense of joy, and yet, I just feel crumby tonight. If I allowed myself, I could just as easily rattle off the list of challenges (that's corporate-speak for "problems") Elijah faces in the weeks ahead. For example: His mobility is of primary concern to his in-home therapists, and when they get to work on him, he'll be sore and cranky and perhaps even feeling some real pain in his delicate limb joints. I believe in my deepest soul that I'd take that pain from him if given the chance, but if that's true, then why do I whine so much about my headache?

We have a propensity for blowing things out of proportion, for both selfish and noble reasons. If I want you to feel sorry for me, I'll complain more than I should. If I want to convince myself I'm not feeling bad, I can exert some willpower to improve my attitude, but the pain still lingers; this is why people who break their index finger don't go to the doctor for weeks. Maybe the toughest challenge we face as frail humans is the mighty task of describing a situation accurately, without hyperbole, but also without denial.

So here's the most honest assessment I can make of the current situation: No matter what else is going on in my life, no matter how I feel tonight or tomorrow or ten minutes from now, I know that Elijah is getting stronger and stronger every day. He's not strong enough to crawl, but he wants to crawl, and that means he's strong where it counts. The people who care for him day by day, hour by hour, know what it takes to examine his little body objectively and with compassion, and that allows them to make not just good decisions but the best decisions about how to make him feel better, how to keep him healthy, and how to improve his situation in the present as well as the future.

So if someone calls me and asks how Elijah's doing, and I feel like griping about my head or painting a picture about Elijah's woes, but instead I say he's doing great, no matter what's going on in his life or my life, I'll be telling the truth.

And here's another thing I know to be true: No matter how much I wish the situation were different, I know God has Elijah in the palm of his hand, and everything's going according to His plan, and yeah, there's a plan. It's so great that God's promises don't depend on how we feel toward God and his promises.

What do you know! My head is clearing. Drugs are awesome.

All of a sudden, I just want to crawl in bed. So I'm gonna.

Dave out.

P.S. Manny Ramirez is no longer on my Christmas card list.

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