Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Community: Reaching Sideways and Up

This post is part of a series of guest posts about building community. The posts are hosted at 
http://teamaidan.wordpress.com/, where Heather shares Aidan's story. The most beautiful boy with the bluest eyes that you've ever seen, also facing the reality of being undiagnosed. 

"Nobody gets a cross heavier than what one can carry". I heard this popular saying countless times when we learned that our Zach had abnormal posturing of his hands and club feet, during our 50 days stay at the NICU, during every test that came back "normal"; while reading about syndrome ABC and crying about it, to then read about syndrome XYZ, and then sobbing some more thinking: -Maybe that's what Zach has. A totally pointless pity party with only one person invited: Me.

And that's when the Community came to our rescue. Several types of community indeed. The blog community for example helped me a lot during the pregnancy, because let's face it, when you know that your baby will have some sort of special needs "What to Expect While You're Expecting" just doesn't cut it anymore. Reading about moms with special needs children helped me have some sort of idea of what was lying ahead, gave me ways to cope and most important of all, gave me hope. The hope that I desperately needed for my child because all I could see for our future was just black. 

During the whole process I got mad at God, very mad and asked in rage countless times: Why my baby?, we shared the news with our Church, were everybody has perfectly healthy babies almost on daily basis, we were afraid, actually scared out of our pants and as irrational as it may sound; when I was expecting some rejection, or perhaps pity; we were showered with overwhelming love, support and grace. Boy, I was WRONG. Everybody in our church poured in prayers constantly, and when I say everybody. I mean everybody, from our Pastor to the maintenance staff. 

Prayer was just the beginning though, our group scheduled days to visit us in the NICU to bring us lunch. There were letters, e-mails, cards and flowers showing love, support and also celebrating our boy that was after all a gift from God fearfully and wonderfully made. They also send someone to clean our house while we were in the hospital a couple times, so we could come home to a decent place and have a meal ready to eat. And their support did not stop there. Every time that Zach was having a big day (Extubation, Surgery, MRI, etc.) there was someone from our church there, just ready to pray for our boy, for us and for the medical staff. We also had meals delivered to our home when we came back to the hospital, and for about two months after our boy's passing. To this day, the cards, the letters and the prayers keep coming in a way that my husband and I are still humbled, honored, speechless and grateful. 

Picture with some of my dear friends after baby shower #1 (I had three)
We all decided to celebrate Zach no matter what. 
My close family lives in Colombia, South America, and even in the distance they also managed to find a way to support us. My sister organized a fund raiser called "Ayuda a Zachary", meaning "Help Zachary", and they had over 500 people pitching in. People that I had lost touch with over the years just came back with the only purpose of help and lend a hand, giving sacrificially.

As if this wasn't enough people, our neighbors also pinched in. They were with us all along, and more so now, since they are planting a memory garden for Zachary in our backyard. Their idea is that we will get to see this garden grow just as we would've seen our boy grow and thrive. They are weekend warriors of the highest skill level, so I know that it will take some time to get it all done, but it will be beautiful. 

Memorial Garden, Stage 1. More to come! 
Now, to the whole idea of "None is given more than one can handle" or anything of that sort, I know for a fact, that's not true. At some point in life, you will be given more than what you can handle. Way more. You will be bent almost to your breaking point, you may end up with your face on the ground with truly nowhere else to look but UP, and when you do that, things begin to happen. The pride and the belief that we can control and do it all just fades away, and you can give people the opportunity to help.You. It was a beautiful surprise to find out that people actually craves to lend a hand, to be there, to be a part of it, because reaching out and helping feels good, pumps you up and makes you be the better person. Up and sideways, is how you carry a heavy cross, how you won't grow weary. There's no way that we can do it all, and the beauty of it is that we're not supposed to. That's what a community is for.  

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