Today marks five months since my kidney transplant. On the eleventh of each month, I mark this milestone by remembering to be grateful to my little sister for donating a kidney and giving me a second chance at life.
At the same time, I take stock of all the other things I have to be grateful for.
Today, I’m grateful that curses sometimes become blessings.
In university, I kept a notebook with a list of important life lessons. One lesson: “That that ills cures.”
The idea was that sometimes the things we least want to do are the most important things for us to do. Sometimes the things that make us feel sick just thinking about them are the very things we need to do to grow and to feel good. (For another life lesson, please read: Enjoy the Journey.)
But sometimes we don’t get to choose; sometimes the things we’re most afraid of just happen.
When my wife Laura and I first realized that our son Bryson had significant developmental delays, it felt like a curse.
For most expectant parents, the biggest fear is that something will be wrong with their child. Ask an expectant mom if she hopes to have a boy or girl, and she’ll likely reply: “I don’t care as long as it’s healthy.”
It’s what she’s supposed to say.
For new parents, a healthy baby means that things have turned out as they were supposed to.
An unhealthy baby, on the other hand, feels like a curse. An unhealthy baby means a that things went wrong; that your life as a parent will be radically different from the one you expected.
But every now and then something happens which reminds us that, even when we don’t choose them, curses can be blessings too.
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Yesterday, my teenage son Connor had offered to watch Bryson, who has been diagnosed with GRIN1, a rare genetic condition that results in severe physical and mental disabilities.
I went to check on them, half expecting Connor to be on his phone while Bryson played alone. Instead, I saw Connor smiling and speaking gently to his brother. I watched from the doorway, unnoticed, while Connor set up towers for Bryson to knock down.
Watching them play together like brothers, real brothers, like the kind of relationship we anticipated when we were expecting our second child, was the best feeling in the world. I felt so lucky, so blessed, to have these wonderful children in my life.
Let me be clear: Bryson has a cursed life. It’s not fair that he has to struggle so much each day, enduring seizures, unable to walk, challenged to communicate. I would give up anything to let him have a normal life.
But that doesn’t mean my life is cursed. Having Bryson in my life is a blessing. And today, I’m grateful for that.