It was exactly one year ago that Jack’s new life plan was set into motion. General Conference weekend last April I had NO INKLING WHATSOEVER that our lives would change so drastically and so quickly, literally beginning just days after conference.
I’ve been thinking of all the things that are different about life now versus life then, as well as the lessons I’ve learned. Of course, I will soon expostulate on this, as one does. But first, allow me to discuss a photograph (the one above).
I have this picture beside my bathroom sink of Jack at eighteen months old, sitting beside three-year-old Henry. I had it taken at Target’s photo studio a dozen years ago one fall day. Jack’s hair is big: curly, gingery, soft, shiny. He has a soft little baby face and a wet mouth that is half smiling, half ready to wail. He’s so little.
I look at this picture every time I brush my teeth. In it, I see the passage of time, skipping over a dozen years in a moment. I feel as though I see Jack’s innocence and sweetness in those pillow-y baby cheeks.
He has the same soul today as he had then.
As the years fall away, so does my anxiety, my inadequacy, my struggle against the repetitive pulling tides of difficulty. But at one point in my journey as Jack’s mother, I couldn’t see his limitations for what they are—an orderly, intentional plan for his life. Purposeful. Deliberate. A gift. I only saw the loss.
Because of what has transpired in the last year, I don’t see loss anymore. It’s not a void, it’s a fullness. My spirit feels educated.
When I see Baby Jack smiling and sitting by his big brother, I see life. It’s a big life. Sometimes it feels restrictive, clamped down by hardship. But Jack’s pure freckled face with the milky skin shows me expansiveness. It is growth. It is learning through experiencing.
Because I have Jack, I am closer to God. This isn’t because of anything I have done. It’s because Jack’s condition has leveled me, humbling and bringing me to a point of meekness, by which I mean a place of deep yearning for God’s power in my life.
With time, I’ve shed the old mental image of the ideal life I had constructed in my mind. Hard things that I couldn’t manage alone compelled me to ask God what He had in mind for Jack and for me. “Tell me what to do, and I will do it.” If anyone ever had a prayer on repeat, this was mine. It still is.
Jack’s face has morphed a great deal in the last year. The tiny face in the photograph is now that of a big, burly teen. His face, our lives, they evolve.
The content of his spirit is as vibrant and valiant as ever. But my spirit has changed. It’s softer. Elastic. It is no longer enclosed like a fist, but open, like an outstretched hand.
It is receptive to change. It anticipates growth.