Happy Birthday, Michael!

Last week went by in a blur. We returned from the west coast, celebrated four birthdays, grieved with dear friends, and went head over heels into Nutcracker season. 

I kicked off the 31 Days series (and already missed a day), but I didn't get the traditional birthday posts in. So, here's to catching up.

When I was 24, I was diagnosed with cancer. Michael was a baby then, 18 months old and still nursing when our lives turned upside down. It was a long year and he was very much aware. He's also been very much aware of the shadow that is life after cancer. I knew that. What I didn't know is that Michael has always been a little afraid of 24. In his mind, people get cancer when they're 24.

When he was 24, sure enough, cancer came knocking. But it wasn't Michael. And it wasn't me. It was Michael's best friend, Shawn. That made 25 very, very hard.

The fall of 25 held deep and gripping grief. First, Michael lost his beloved grandfather. Then, he watched his best friend slip away very, very quickly. 

When Michael was little, we were big fans of Solomon the Supersonic Salamander. He sang songs from Proverbs. Michael and I belted out the beat about "a friend who sticks closer than a brother" every time we drove any where. It was embedded into who he was. I had no idea how deeply and truly embedded.

Shawn had two brothers. They're great guys--strong, faithful, unwavering. But when cancer took that strong body and distorted it into a swollen, painful unrecognizable mess, a third young man stood vigil with them beside the bed. Closer than a brother, or at least as close. And when the cancer started talking nonsense and Shawn didn't sound like himself, Michael bantered back to the Shawn he knew. When Shawn went home to Jesus, Michael stood tall and bore witness to Shawn's witness. It was truly something to behold. 

A few weeks later, the light shone through the clouds. In the very early morning on April 25, Lucy Shawn was born. The towheaded boy became a Daddy. From the depths of grief to life's greatest joy, 25 was quite a year for my eldest son. 

He did a few other things with 25. He went to Brazil and covered the World Cup. He carved a niche for himself in the world of sportswriters and truly became a world class sportstweeter*, with over 117,000 followers.He got nominated for awards. He turned heads.  But when he looks back on 25, this will be there year that he lost Granddad and he lost Shawn, and he welcomed Lucy into the world.  

Big, big year.

Now, he's 26.

I pray for peace for you this year, my boy. Peace and all that is good


*this is how Nick refers to Michael's job.