When I was 24 weeks along with our firstborn, I began to hemorrhage and was rushed to the emergency room. While I was in the midst of being stabilized in the ER, the medical staff gave us dire warnings of this baby possibly having blindness, deafness, cerebral palsy, a lifetime of excruciating pain and suffering.
“Do you want us to do everything we can to keep him alive?” they asked.
My husband thundered, “HELL, YES!”
And so our son, Cody, was born weighing one pound, six ounces. He could fit in the palms of our hands, his foot the size of a quarter. Every ounce gained was like winning the lottery.
Cody never went blind or deaf or had cerebral palsy. He didn’t say his first word or chew food until he was three-years old. We worked hard to help him with speech therapy and major/minor motor development, such as walking and gripping a pencil. Each step forward, in our minds, was a sweet victory the size of a ticker-tape parade.
When he was 11, Cody was running the mile with the rest of the gym class. By then, he was able to run, but each breath came at a price from chronic lung disease. He started off with a robust sprint, determined and hopeful. Then eventually he slowed, slowed, slowed down, his lungs on fire.
A boy in his class, who led the pack, craned his neck around to see that Cody was alone in his struggle. This boy, forever bless his heart, dialed down his powerful stride until he was alongside Cody.
“You can do this, dude,” he said. “You can win this.”
Cody, buoyed by this encouragement, toughed it out on the track that was now cleared of classmates. It was just the two of them, and together, surely but slowly, they reached the end to cheers and whistles.
Cody came home that afternoon, breathless with sheer happiness.
“Mom, guess what!” he said. “I made a new friend! I made a new friend, and everyone cheered for us!”
Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear running shoes.
Credit: Jennifer Senger Oliver