Around 2:30 on April 20, 2009, Noah was shaken. He’d been crying. He needed something that his daycare provider wasn’t providing him. Maybe he was tired of lying on the mat where she’d had him. Maybe he needed a hug, a laugh, a kind touch. Instead, she picked him up, her fingers gripping him tightly, feeling the softness of his velour pants and his cotton onesie under her fingers, and she shook him.
You know the rest of the story. We have documented it all: the hospital stay; the comas and seizures; the heartache of losing the baby we had known and loving the new Noah; the sleepless nights; reports of brain damage, optic nerve damage, muscle tightness; therapies; fear; anxiety; outrage; a legal battle that threatened to break us. You also know how filled we are with love, how fortunate we feel to have Noah, to love him and hold him, and to watch as he grows, despite the continuous burdens and challenges we all face each day. You know, too, that God has given us another gift: Avry. Avry beams when he looks at his brother, and Noah laughs, jumps, and squeals with excitement when he sees Avry.
Noah has emerged from two comas. He still suffers from seizures. And yet he smiles. He laughs. He is so full of joy, and he has the most beautiful spirit of any child I have ever known. He is walking, which no one thought he’d be able to do in such a short period of time. He loves to eat and he feeds himself – such a simple thing that is huge for us. He said “da da” the other day for the first time, and now he wanders the house smiling, picking up a toy, climbing on a stool, or playing with his drums while saying “da da.”
Today, I refuse to be shackled by the sadness that this day has represented over the last year. I refuse to let my naked baby, death hovering too closely, be the image I choose to remember forever. This is a hard thing to do. But Noah has taught me to move through each day with a smile, despite the weight of my burdens and challenges. My fighting angel is boxing his way through life. So will I. Who’s joining me? We’ll continue to walk down Noah’s Road – all the hills and tough pavement – together.
In honor of Noah and all other abused children, please join us in a moment of prayer (or silence) today at 2:30. Wherever you find yourself, please bow your head for all the fighting angels out there.