Without a doubt, Derek's birth is the most memorable of the 3 kids. Not just because it was the most recent one, but because it was the most anticipated. When Audrey and Marcus were born, I just expected for them to be healthy. But after Marcus' diagnosis of Joubert Syndrome and learning that any child of ours would have a 25% chance of having it, Derek's birth was a huge question mark and up until he was born, we didn't know what to expect.
I'm not sure why, but I've been thinking a lot lately about how Derek was born and how crazy it is that God would allow us to have him. I was about to look for this picture of him in the hospital. The one we took after the neonatal team checked him out, gave the "he's all good", and put him on my chest. He laid down on his side, steadily breathing on me as my heart beat at a surprisingly calm rate and our eyes locked. For having just entered the world, he was unusually alert and wide-eyed and as he looked at me, it was as if he said, "I'm here, Ma. I know you and Dad prayed like crazy for me. But it's okay. I'm okay. You don't have to worry."
But then I realized it was a picture never taken on film, but a mental picture, which are the best ones for sure. The kind that are in vivid 3-D color, etched on my heart for a long long while.
Yes, God was gentle with us. He allowed Derek to be free of Joubert Syndrome and all the challenges that come with it. Yet, I pray God nurtures in him some of the characteristics that his older brother has because of Joubert Syndrome. Courage, persistence, hard-work, humility, and love to name a few. I also pray God will nurture in him some of the things his older sister has had to learn from Joubert Syndrome as well, such as patience, selflessness, understanding, and unconditional love.
These days, I feel like there's a silent understanding between Derek and me.
When he's not toddling around and getting into trouble, his beady little asian eyes look up at mine as if to say, "Remember? Remember when we met? So yeah, I told you not to worry about me struggling with Joubert Syndrome. But you see, there will be plenty of other things I have planned to keep you on your toes. Just wait and see."
Gladly, my son.