12 June 2010

Breck Thoughts: Humor in the Face of Disappointment

About a year before Bennett was born, I found this blog through a friend's blog.  This blog follows the story of the Reeves family and more specifically, their daughter, Jordan, who was born without her left hand.

Jordan's mother, Jen, an excellent storyteller and twitter-er/blogger regularly documents how Jordan and her family are handling her handicap as she grows and develops into an understanding about it.

One of the reasons we have fallen in love with the Reeves family is the way they have approached their daughter's special needs.  Early on when I first began reading the blog, I found an adorable picture of Jordan in this shirt...

I couldn't help but chuckle when I read Jordan's tshirt: "Dude, Where's my arm?" But as soon as I laughed, I remember feeling badly about laughing.  What's so funny about a child missing her arm?  And then, it hit me, it's not her missing arm that's's her ability to make light of it.

I remember telling Brian about Jordan and about her parent's efforts to find humor in her situation.  "What a wonderful perspective...regarding something that must be so terribly heartbreaking," I thought.  "Jordan's parents (who bought her the tshirt) obviously want to break the ice and the stigma that follows those with missing limbs."  It was evident to me, through that picture, that Jordan's parents wanted to circumvent an opportunity to laugh at Jordan by offering an opportunity for others to laugh with Jordan.

After seeing the picture of Jordan in her "Dude, Where My Arm?" shirt, I told Brian how much I admired Jordan's parents' efforts and expressed that if we were ever in that situation, I'd want to do the same thing for our child.  He agreed.

So, it's no surprise that Jordan's story came up in our private conversation not too long after we learned of Bennett's diagnosis.  We both wanted to address Bennett's special needs in the same way:  How can we find humor in the face of this disappointment?

One moment that sticks out in my mind where we took this to heart was an evening when I was reading a book about Cystic Fibrosis and found the part where they talk about how 98% of males with CF are sterile.  We talked about the seriousness of this and how it might impact Bennett later in life.  And then, after the seriousness had passed, Brian turned to me and said, "well, I guess we don't have to worry about Bennett, one day, knocking up a girl!"

We rolled laughing.  Of course, in some way, it's not funny at all.  It's sad.  But we can appreciate that of all the things that will worry us about Bennett as he grows up, having a baby out of wedlock may not be one of those. :)

For us, and I imagine for the Reeves family, laughing in the face of disappointment is an effort to not take that disappointment too seriously.  It's not that the disappointment isn't real or painful for laughing does not negate that pain.  But rather, it's acknowledging that that disappointment isn't lasting.

We don't take our disappointment in Bennett's progressive lung disease as the final word of who he is.    In fact, we work on the premise that Bennett will not be sick forever...(and I'm not necessarily talking about a cure).  For us, we believe that all the world will eventually be made right again.  And because of this, we do not want to grieve like we do not have hope.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  Proverbs 17:22

We haven't found a shirt like Jordan's for Bennett just yet (although, we did find this shirt pretty funny since Bennett does have only part of his colon).  However, it's not the shirt that dictates the humor but the way we interact with others and are willing to laugh at our own situation.  Thanks to Jordan and her family for helping us see how we can do that.  

1 comment :

  1. You are awesome. We do find humor helps us roll with the punches. Happiness keeps our family together and we're so lucky to be a part of yours. I'm honored!


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