Today my son made a decision as to which college he would attend. In keeping with a pact I made a long time ago the choice was his, and truly whatever choice he made would have been fully supported. In fact, a few weeks ago I made sure he knew that even if he decided not to go to college that would be fine too. He went into this decision knowing that the outcome had zero impact on how much he was loved and respected.
I made that pact thirteen years ago sitting in his hospital room. After contracting E. coli 0157:H7, Thomas developed HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome). I won’t go into specifics, but if you care to look up the details it wouldn’t begin to give you an idea of the horror of watching a four year old succumb to it. The HUS led to renal failure and his first surgery to start peritoneal dialysis. The prognosis was not good, in fact after his second surgery to insert a port – on Palm Sunday – he bled out.
He left us that day for a bit, and as it was happening I found what I needed inside me to say goodbye to my son. I told him the gift that he was to us in the short time we were together, the special love and joy he brought to all who knew him, and the ability way beyond his years to truly care about others. I told God that I accepted the plan for Thomas’ life, but that with all my heart and soul I vowed to support whatever path his life would take if God would see fit to give him more time. When you are in this position your faith isn’t challenged, it’s crystal clear. You know what you believe and with Whom you are dealing with. It’s time to put your words into action – this is one negotiation you can’t go back on.
I believe I passed out and awoke expecting to have my worst nightmare confirmed. I was told that Anthony was with Thomas in the Pediatric ICU – Thomas had suffered congestive heart failure as a result of the HUS, surgery & bleeding. Despite this, it seems that my negotiation skills were up to the task. There definitely was a plan for Thomas’ life that required a bit more time here. Each day the parallel of Holy Week was not lost on us. That dark, rainy Good Friday was bleak indeed and yet infused with a hope previously unknown to us. Like any good epic hero story worth its salt, this one has a biblical happy ending – Thomas waking up on Easter Sunday morning when the Easter Bunny came in to deliver Beany Babies. We had a few more weeks in the hospital, and a long time of visiting doctors ahead of us, but the pact was sealed.
After 25 days in the hospital on May 2, a day we still celebrate, Thomas came home. Ever since that day we have kept the deal. It was much easier when he was little, when his kind deeds and good choices were local. As he got older and asked to travel to Costa Rica to spend time in La Carpio the immediate reaction was fear. After a deep breath, we supported his trip – you know with that whole pact thing we couldn’t really say no.
Today – exactly thirteen years later – Thomas has made a decision to continue his journey at Fordham University. In my heart and soul I still keep that vow to support whatever path his life takes, every step of the way. With much love, joy, and pride I have a front row seat to watch the life of this handsome, bright and kind young man unfold. Best deal I ever made!