I'm so glad we made the decision to send him to Edison High School, which is geared toward students who have learning differences (mostly ADD/ADHD and dyslexia). The magic is in the incredibly small class sizes and amazing, gifted teachers. Chris also took great advantage of the opportunity to participate in activities and take classes at sister school Jesuit High School. During his senior year, he took three classes there--band, drama, and pre-calculus. In the fall, he's off to study theater and English at Pacific Lutheran University, my alma mater.
Welcome to palanca, Chris. I received palanca when I was in high school, and I will never forget the deep glow in my heart. You have so many people who love you and cherish you.
Early in your life, milestones became important to me. But we celebrated different types of
milestones than most parents. While they celebrated taking their babies home from the hospital, giving first baths, and visiting friends and family, we celebrated each week you survived. Every Sunday, I made an anniversary sign to put in your isolette, and we bought a new balloon in the hospital gift shop. By the time you left the NICU after 17 weeks, the nurses joked that you would float away with your 17 balloons!
When I woke up from surgery, your dad told me that you were alive and you were a boy! I couldn’t believe you were alive and couldn’t wait to go visit you in the NICU. You looked like a tiny, fragile bird, with translucent skin and bruised eyelids, and with multiple wires and probes attached to your body. Your whole body was shaking because of the high-frequency ventilator breathing for you. But I thought you were the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen.
The medical staff tried to prepare us for what could happen. They said you had a 50% chance of dying in the first few days, and a 50% chance of having major disabilities if you survived. A normal life seemed beyond what we could hope for…we were just hoping for survival. But still we had hope, and we held on to it with all our might.
In your first four months, we prayed and sang to you each day and night. You received prayers from around the world…from people at church and your wide, extended family to people in England and even people you have never met. We prayed for your survival, your growth, and your thriving…and I imagined you as a healthy toddler running along the beach. That vision sustained me through the dark times. You almost died too many times to count…with breathing problems, infections, cerebral edema (brain swelling), and low flow to the brain.
Bringing you home after 117 days, we were terrified. You were on about seven different medications (which we had to mix up!), and you were hooked up to an oxygen tank, an apnea monitor, and a computer for a medical study. The apnea monitor told us if you stopped breathing. Can you imagine taking home a tiny baby knowing that he could stop breathing and you’d have to revive him? But at the same time, we were so happy to take you home right before Christmas in 1996. It was one of the happiest moments of our lives. When we got you home, all I wanted to do was hold you. All the time.
I am so excited to see where your life leads. I know you’ll be under pressure to decide what you want to do with your life, but here’s my advice: let life unfold. When I went to college, I thought I wanted to be a teacher. But when I actually worked in a school during my sophomore year, it was disappointing. When my Advanced Comp professor encouraged me to major in English (in my junior year), I realized that writing was my strength. But when I graduated, I had no idea what I was going to do with my English degree. Then I got the chance to teach in Japan. When I applied, I said to myself, “If I get this job, I am going to go.” I was scared, but I decided to take a leap of faith. And guess what happened? It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I had a grand adventure and met the love of my life (leading me to have you)!
Chris, I am so proud to be your mom. When you were little I called you my “wonder boy.” You are my hero. You are the most resilient and forgiving person I know, with a heart full of compassion, kindness, and enthusiasm. My heart is bursting with pride as I look back on your birth and childhood and see where you are now…graduating with excellent grades, a fantastic high school resume full of extracurricular activities, and a spectacular scholarship to PLU!!
|After your last Jesuit play|
My hope for you, next, is that you have a fantastic experience at college. I know you will. Be open to new experiences, work hard, take chances, and continue to be full of wonder. Take advantage of all the great benefits available at PLU—the opportunity to make new friends, soak up culture and learning, and dabble in many academic areas until you find one that fits you best. How can you use your beautiful soul and enthusiastic spirit to continue to inspire and help others?
I love you, my wonder boy!