Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Eli updates (and Goodbye Todd)


Here's Sophia singing a song by our good friend Todd MacDonald, who passed away on May 14. I am simply amazed by her poise and grace, singing on the fly at Philbrook Museum this afternoon. More about Todd in a minute...


We're so proud of Elijah for graduating from pre-school with flying colors. He'll attend kindergarten next year, and he'll be amazing! We're sad to say goodbye to our teachers, but such is life. Here's hoping we'll be with new teachers who are as kind, loving and understanding as those we have known at Holmes Park in Sapulpa and during our years at the Little Light House.

On the medical front, there's a bit of sad news: Our little guy has "lazy eye" (Amblyopia) in his left eye. To force the muscles in that eye to strengthen, we must put an eyepatch on his RIGHT eye, where the vision is 20/40. Insanity. To his credit, he's dealing with the discomfort to the best of his ability. Which is to say, he hates it, but he's a very good boy who suffers through all the indignities we pour on him.

Eli has a big summer ahead of him, including our Make-A-Wish trip to Hawaii in July. That's right, I said Hawaii! All four of us love beaches, pools and oceans, and it never hurts to have a luau or two thrown in for good measure. Before that, though, we will be visiting several specialists for our annual checkups, including dermatology, gastrointestrology and oncology. As long as he doesn't get jabbed with a needle, Elijah will keep a playful attitude during any doctor visit. Still, keep little Elijah in your prayers as he faces his trials and his triumphs this summer.


On May 14, my friend Todd MacDonald passed away after a long struggle with mesothelioma. Long before he learned of his sickness, he touched me with the beauty of his first album, "Changes." Todd was a songwriter of breathtaking skill and tenderness, as well as a magnificent singer and amazing guitarist. When Elijah was born, it was Todd's words that brought me comfort in the face of a struggle I simply couldn't understand, the struggle between my comprehension of how the world should work and the realities of living in God's will for better or, sometimes, worse. After he got sick, Todd continued to write songs of unquestioning loyalty to "God's perfect and wise purpose," as he put it.

Todd came to Tulsa to stay at my home for a week, as he promoted his album "Pilgrims Here." All the Ramirez clan fell in love with Todd, with his gentle spirit and his razor-sharp wit. I think Todd's dearest friend during his visit was my dog, Charlie. I'm not surprised that Todd had a soft spot for animals; I suspect Adam in the garden must have communicated with nature with the same effortlessness. Most profoundly, I was awestruck by the understanding Todd showed Elijah, never mentioning any comparisons between his own plight and our son's but rather speaking and singing consistently about the love of God and the rightness of standing in his presence, no matter the cost, no matter the circumstance. Todd infected me with his evangelistic fervor, and I will try to honor him by seeking out others to love as Todd loved.

I hadn't spoken to Todd since Christmas, when we had a long talk about that trip in 2010 to Tulsa. I told him I grieved for his pain (the cancer, which had been in remission but then returned, was now resisting all chemo), and he tried his best to comfort me instead of making me console him. I tried to get a recording of Sophia singing his song "Faithful and True," to present to him as a gift, but the audio equipment was just never right. I regret not getting the video to him in time, but Todd lived without regret, and it seems somehow wrong to feel such a thing when thinking of him. Besides, I believe he can hear her singing now, and that in itself is an answer to prayer.

I've been flooding Todd's Facebook page with my final thoughts about him, and I think this post on my own blog should constitute my final post for at least a while. I just couldn't let go for the past few days, you know? Anyway, here's a link to a concert he did in the summer of 2009 to promote "Pilgrims Here." He was amazing, in every regard.