*I thought this essay I wrote a couple months back would be appropriate to post today, as it is my son’s fifth birthday. Cody, your life is truly inspiring.
“There’s a human in the backseat and they’re not leaving for the next eighteen years!” My friend Mike laughs when he reminds me of the time I said this during a conversation. I was recalling when my wife and I left the hospital after the birth of my first child, Codyn. I clearly remember thinking that very thought as we pulled away from the patient loading area of Abington Memorial just outside of Philadelphia. Two days earlier, it was just my wife and I that had entered that hospital and now they were actually letting us leave with another human. What were they thinking? Didn’t they know we were just kids! I half expected to hear sirens and see flashing lights in the rear-view mirror as the authorities tracked us down, cuffed us, and threw us in the slammer for abducting a child. But there was nothing. No lights. No sirens. It was silent. I mean really silent. As the three of us drove really slowly down that road on the way to our apartment, the same road just two of us had traveled two days earlier, I had the overwhelming sense that life had drastically changed.
“There’s a human in the backseat and they’re not leaving for the next eighteen years.”
Those first days are somewhat of a blur. Between a heavy dose of diapers, bodily fluids, and napping (his and ours), I am foggy on the details. I recall my wife and I lying in bed one night wide awake, listening over the monitor to his breathing, making sure it didn’t stop, when the strangest thing happened. Cody started whimpering. The whimper turned into a small cry and pretty soon he was full out wailing. Then the wailing stopped and a little voice came over the airwaves. “Mama? Mama? Mom! Mom!” Completely stunned, my wife and I just looked at each other. Just as we were reaching for the phone to get our newborn genius child an enrollment packet for Harvard, a woman’s voice came over the monitor. We had been picking up another monitor signal in the apartment complex. We went the next day to exchange the monitors…but I still think my son is a genius.
I also recall countless times walking into Cody’s bedroom which just days before had been my office and peeking into his crib while he lay sleeping. I kept expecting it would be empty, confirming this was all a dream, but there he was. Bundled tightly, sleeping soundly, taking up just a small portion of his giant crib. He was so…small. So innocent. So helpless. If anything was going to happen for him, it would require something from us. He certainly wasn’t in a position to fend for himself. It became clear very quickly that we had not only become parents- we were now responsible for a human life.
“I love you.”
That was me. I had just said that. He had done nothing and yet the words came so easily. Before my kids crawled or took one step, I loved them. Before they said “daddy” or wrapped their little arms around me, I loved them. Before they drew pictures or earned good grades, I loved them. I love them because they are mine to love. I love them because they are wonderfully precious and exhaustively unique. I love them, period. I like to think it’s less of an action and more of a state of being. Certainly I love them, but they are loved. Period.
I believe it to be this way with our heavenly father. Before we ever did anything lovely or loveable, we were loved. I don’t know if he is impressed by the things we do on this earth. I kind of hope so. I sort of doubt it. But I do know this; impressed or not, these things have nothing to do with our being loved. That does not depend on us one iota. We were loved long before we could think of ways to earn it. As is true with most things, I suspect the confusion came with growing up…when we got just old enough to start thinking we can.