Late Night Dad:
It's one of those times during the year when I seem to run into lots of old friends and distant family, be it during lunches or over the phone or at the holiday parties. And even though the people in my life come from any of hundreds of past lives -- schools, jobs, events -- the first question they ask is very, very consistent: "So, how is your little boy doing?"
There's just no getting around the fact that Elijah Ramirez is a force of nature in the lives of each person he's encountered, but I admit I'm surprised at how he dominates the width and depth of my life, as well as those of Melissa and Sophia. I believe it's a testimony to how successfully the members of the Ramirez clan have worked to fill our address books with good-hearted people who love God and believe in the power of prayer. (Even the atheists we know seem to understand there's something mighty at work in Elijah's life; you know who you are, and hopefully you aren't shocked to hear my theory. Grin.)
There are two answers to the question, one general and one that's a snapshot of how he's feeling right this week. First the snapshot: Tonight, he's recovering from an MRSA infection in his ear, which is either the root cause of nine weeks (!) of antibiotics, or a symptom of the cure being as brutal as the disease. In any case, I know how scary that sounds, but we don't believe it's gotten down past the eardrum, and now all we have to do is keep him happy during all the allergies and runny nose sufferings. Elijah really does seem to be feeling great these days, and if you've seen him, you know his vocabulary is IMMENSE. It’s late night right now (or, if you prefer, early morning), and he thought he wanted to play, but I coaxed him back to sleep after half-an-hour.
Now for the general: Elijah is healthy in ways I never could have imagined, or at least, I thought it would be years before he'd see this kind of success. He sees therapists at Sophia's public school two days a week, and they believe Eli's so cognitively on-track that he could benefit from enrolling in afternoon pre-K full time. What an exciting development! What an answer to prayer! As for his prosthetic legs (the no. 1 thing you guys ask about), we have met with the prostheticist in OKC who completed the fitting for our new pair of truly hi-tech shoes, and those could arrive anytime. Don't worry, when Elijah masters the new shoes, I'll have plenty of video for you. In the meantime, he's still doing a great job learning to balance in the current shoes, and he's taking bigger and bigger steps every week. Most importantly, he ENJOYS wearing his shoes and look forward to working and playing in them, at home, at therapy, and during school at the Little Light House.
Elijah's birthday is December 23, and I'm stunned to think it's been four years since that uncertain night he was born. I still carry some measure of guilt at not having the joyous memory of that night the way every parent should, but I'm consoled by the fact that each Christmas since that first one has been better than the one before, and I simply can't wait to see how awesome Elijah will be this year. There are so many levels in which he will succeed: As a spectacle of a little kid entertaining the masses; as a living testimony to the success of prayer; as a demonstration of the efforts his teachers and family have poured into his protection and development; as a reminder of the true meaning of the season; and as if that weren't enough, as an instant dose of goodwill infused into the cerebral cortex of every single person he meets, especially the strangers at the stores during our holiday shopping (they can’t stop smiling). People fall instantly in love with him; perhaps you’ve seen it for yourself. And if you'd told me the night he was born how happy and healthy he’d one day be, I couldn't have believed it, just because I felt so little hope during those days. Guess you told me, God.
A NOTE ON SOPHIA: I'm sure many of you are wondering how Sophia holds up against all the attention her little brother receives, and I can honestly say she is a stronger person for it. Perhaps in an alternate universe there's a version of Sophia who resents being ignored when her brother is around, but in this plane of existence, she’s Elijah’s favorite person, and she’s the one who plays with him the most. It would be impossible for Elijah to succeed as he has without Sophia's outpouring of faith and love, her comprehension of the situation, and her ability to weather the storms that rage through Eli's life from time to time. Most of all, Sophia is so good at bringing joy into her parents lives at all times, she makes it look effortless.
Having said that, we still want the focus of this blog to be on Elijah and not necessarily provide "equal time" for Sophia. She's developing in all the ways your kids are, and one day soon she'll be old enough to decide whether she wants her life broadcast week-by-week the way her brother's has been. Just trust that we're helping her with homework, keeping her friends lined up to play with her, and finding extracurricular activities to keep her interested and interesting. And you can bet she's going to have just as much fun as Elijah this Christmas, but not as much fun as I'll have watching them enjoy the festivities. Maybe we’ll see you around.
Keep praying for Eli!