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A Father's Contempt for the Commonplace

  • Matt Mooney
  • Published Jun 13, 2007
A Father's Contempt for the Commonplace

My wife Ginny and I were ecstatic to be having our first child. However, 30 weeks into the pregnancy, doctors informed us that our child had a genetic disease called Trisomy 18. This diagnosis brought with it no known cause and no cure. We were devastated. Our research revealed statistics that such children do not usually live to birth and if they do then their lives are short (typically hours). We did all we knew to do - cry, hold each other, and pray.

We made the decision that this was our child and we would gladly take whatever time we were given. We prayed for healing and time with this baby. At a time when most expectant parents are making decisions as to the colors for the nursery, we were deciding what resuscitation measures doctors should take when our child began to falter - if the miracle of birth even occurred.

Well, a miracle we got. Our son, Eliot, was born on July 20, 2006. The first night of his life, we stayed up and just passed him back and forth, not knowing if these would be our only memories. But these precious memories were only the beginning; Eliot defied the odds, and lived for 99 days of indescribable joy. Although our hearts remain heavy, and we are learning that grief is a long journey, we are thankful for the countless lessons that the Lord provided through a very special boy.

One of the many lessons is a newfound lack of patience for the mundane. This I readily attribute to Eliot. I believe my wife would echo this sentiment as well.

I would imagine that anyone going through life-altering experiences could relate to such a feeling. It's become difficult to tolerate the trivial. I fear that my face may often give me away in conversations with others. Although I am nodding my head and feigning interest as someone tells me of their new job promotion, or holiday plans, or whatever - I am afraid I am being betrayed by my inner thoughts, which go:

Well, my son died. I miss him. And I don't care about your [fill in the blank].

The funny thing is, I actually do care, more than ever. I care about the person telling me the story. I care to know him or her - their hurts, successes, what makes them tick. I'm just finding it impossible to tolerate small talk. I think the initial reaction to this revelation from others might be:

"Ah, it will pass. Give it some time."

Well, well-meaning and true as that may be, I hope not. As long as I can control my face in public, I think this newborn focus might just be a strength.

I am re-created to need a little more substance in my interaction with others than how my team of choice fared in the game last week. Don't get me wrong, I also need the small talk; and I am not promoting the loathed one whose every word is probing and serious.

In Jesus, I find the perfect mixture. He interacted, went fishing, even frequented a few parties. But He always saw through it all, and managed to get to the heart. My hope is to get there. I am not. But, through Eliot, I am closer.

Now that my struggle is out of the bag, I worry that some may fear talking to me at the next encounter. No need to worry, friends. Just don't watch my face too closely.

Matt Mooney and his wife Ginny live in Arkansas. You can learn more about Eliot and the inspiration and faith of his parents at www.ninetynineballoons.com. Click here to watch the movie.