Well six weeks have passed since Jackson was born. He had major open heart surgery and is now a healthy happy little boy. Jackson has since seen a cardiologist and the doctors continue to be impressed with his remarkable progress. It’s a rare moment that Jackson doesn’t leave those around him in awe.
I wanted to share just a few lessons I learned from our time in Salt Lake City at Primary Children’s Medical Center.
Lesson #1 – Megan is tough as nails. That woman is without a doubt the salt of the earth. Whenever I think about it, I am just awed and amazed that someone so sweet as her would want to spend the rest of eternity with someone as mediocre as me. She endured, with a smile on her face, things that would make a lesser woman cry at her knees. She is truly the glue that holds our little family together. I love her dearly.
Lesson #2 – Primary Children’s Medical center is one of the coolest places on earth. The staff there are without a doubt some of the most talented clinicians I have ever had the privilege of meeting. We would never take our son anywhere else. They are amazing!
Lesson #3 – There is power in prayer. Countless times Megan and I knelt in the solitude of our tiny room at the Ronald McDonald House or stood at Jackson’s bedside and offered gratitude and then pleaded with the Lord to lift our burdens and to heal our son. Steve Holley said it best when he said “you don’t know what it means to pray, until you have prayed over a sick child.” That certainly rang true more than once. There were some experiences that are just too sacred to share. Suffice it to say, that prayer is real; and our prayers were answered.
Lesson #4 – I have the best family and friends anyone could ask for. In our short few weeks in Salt Lake City, we received hundreds of text messages, phone calls, emails, facebook messages, and letters- all with a genuine love and concern for our families’ situation. I can’t say this enough and with enough sincerity; THANK YOU! We could not have endured this trial with such faith without the support of those we love.
Lesson #5 – The priesthood is very real. Having the faith that I do, I believe solemnly that there is great power in the authority to act in the name of God. Several minutes before Jackson was taken to surgery, I had the opportunity to lay my hands on his head and call upon the powers of heaven to lay watch over my first born son. I can’t describe the feelings and impressions that came to my mind as I could feel the very hands of heaven rest upon my shoulders. I knew that God and heaven would be watching closely over Jackson during the biggest trial of his short little life.
Lesson #6 – What it means to love a child. Now, having only been a parent for a little over 6 weeks now, some would say that I really have no idea exactly what it means to love a child. I would say to that: I have a pretty good idea. I don’t know how it’s works, but as soon as I saw sweet Jackson’s face, I loved him. In an instant, I loved Megan more and I loved God more. As Megan and I would return to the hospital day after day so spend time with our little man, we would grow closer and closer to him. I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone, certainly not a child. However, I would hope that when others are called to bear the burden that we were- that they would find a similar love for their child that we did.
Lesson #7 – The Lords timeline is not my own. The night Megan and I arrived at the University of Utah medical center to start Megan’s labor was July 20th. We had eaten a big dinner at Tecanos with my family and Megan’s family, as well as some aunts and uncles and close friends who were in the area. We arrived at about 8:30 at night. The stress I was feeling was unlike any other I have endured. I felt this pit in my stomach that I couldn’t get to go away. They started the Pitocin several hours after we got there, and Megan started to hurt. It was so hard for me to sit by her side and watch her grimace in pain and not be able to do anything about it. I kept praying in my heart for things to move faster, growing frustrated that they weren’t. Jackson was born and I changed the tune to my guitar. Now I wanted things to go slower. I kept asking myself rhetorical questions like.. Why did they have to whisk him off so fast? Why couldn’t time move a little slower? Many, many questions, so very little answers. There were countless times when I begged and pleaded with God to adjust time. One afternoon while sitting at Jackson’s bedside, I had the thought come to mind, that my timeline is not God’s timeline. What a novel idea. In a matter of seconds I realized that God has his own schedule, and it’s because of His wise and loving reasons that we endure the trials we do, in the very instant we encounter them.
Lesson #8 – Christ walks with hurt little children. Spending any amount of time in the Intensive Care Unit at a children’s hospital will humble a person pretty quick. We saw so many sick little kids, that had life every bit as tough and often times worse than Jackson. At night when it was quite, away from all the hustle and bustle of people coming and going, it reminded me of the temple. The spirit can be felt so strong. Christ and the infinite atonement walk those halls. When looking through my “spiritual” eyes I could see angels take the hands of those little kids in their darkest hour. Which brings me to my next lesson…
Lesson #9 – Christ holds a special place in his heart for the little ones. While we were at the hospital, there was another child brought in because he had been found in the bottom of a muddy lake. The nurses said that they were literally suctioning mud out of the poor little boy’s lungs. In the prime of his life, the time that he is supposed to be running around with his friends and family- the little guy gave the best gift anyone could give, the gift of life to several other children. There are but a few things in life that are similar in nature to the Atonement, pediatric organ donation being one of them. The heart ache and grief that the little boy’s family endured was gut wrenching. To watch them say goodbye to their little boy was almost more than any one person could handle. As I would sit and stare at my son and other people’s children, I couldn’t help but think that there is a very special place in the Saviors heart for children.
Lesson #10 – I learned that the Atonement, Christ’s ultimate gift of love, applies in more ways than I ever thought possible. When Jackson’s surgeon spoke to Megan and I immediately after the surgery, he was fairly concerned about a period in which Jackson’s heart stopped pumping blood. There was a distinct sense of concern in his voice as he shared with us the details. He couldn’t offer a reason as to why the event happened, but said the only thing to do would be to watch him. Shortly thereafter is when they had all the problems with Jackson’s arterial lines and getting his blood pressure in a normal range. The 24 hours after that were undoubtedly the most stressful of my life. The only thing I could think about was the Atonement. I kept thinking about how much Christ must love me for him to be able to endure these same feelings when he offered himself for the sins and pains and sickness of all those who would ever live. How could he love me so much? How? I can’t begin to understand even the smallest part of it. The Atonement is real. It is all around us. In the very darkest hour of our lives, Christ is there- standing on the sidelines of heaven; helping us endure. I testify that God loves us. There is power in the Priesthood, and the atonement is real.