I am enthralled by a child who lives across the country, a child whose story I only know through the internet, and who may very well not make it to his 3rd birthday. His name is Ronan, and he has Tay-Sachs disease. I’m not sure why I am so suddenly and unequivocally attached to this little boy. Maybe it’s because I first read about his story in the New York Times on my son's third birthday. Maybe it’s because his smile looks just like Ollie’s when the O was that age. Maybe it’s because his mom’s name is Emily and she’s about the same age as my own wife, Emily. Maybe it’s because it’s just so damn unfair. And maybe it’s because it scares the fool out of me. For whatever reason, Ronan and his mom and dad won’t leave my consciousness or my prayers.
I follow Ronan on Twitter. I am a fan on Facebook. I follow his mom’s blog. Part of me feels that I should stop. I mean, every time I look at a picture of that sweet face knowing how much his mom and dad love him, I break down and cry. I sat at a beautiful spot called Sanders’ Point last week and read a recent blog post about Ronan’s therapy team meeting with his parents. They were talking about all the things they (parents and Team Ronan) could do to help make Ronan more comfortable and to stimulate his ever-decreasing brain function. I sobbed. Thank God I was by myself because I’m sure I looked like a blubbering moron. Especially as I stomped my foot in the soft sand and said to, or rather shouted at, God, “What are you doing to this family??”
But there is something about this situation that draws me back in. I go back and look at the pictures. I read up on Tay-Sachs. I read another blog post. I cry a little more. I laid awake the last few nights, thinking about what Ronan’s parents, Emily & Rick, must be going through. I have given thanks to God that Ollie is healthy, and then seconds later felt like a selfish s.o.b. for giving thanks that I’m not in someone else’s shoes. I have prayed for comfort and peace for all three of them. I have prayed that Ronan’s short life will mean something. (Part of that prayer has been answered: His life means something to me; I just have to figure out what it is.) I have given thanks that Ronan’s parents love him so much and are willing to be public with their daily loss.
(I've also thought to myself: Surely I am not the only one so deeply affected by this. I was relieved to find so many comments on the blog and on Facebook about others who have been so moved by this story.)
What came to me the other night as I prayed for Ronan, Emily, and Rick was that God has put this little boy and his family, who live nearly 2,000 miles away from New Bern, NC, in my path. As I continue to pray for them, I know God will reveal to me why they are in my path.
I will continue to give thanks for Ollie's health, and I will continue to give thanks that Emily and Rick love Ronan so much. I will continue to pray for Ronan's peace and his comfort, and I will pray for Emily and Rick.
I pray that you will join me.