Happy Birthday, Ryan

Thursday was a day filled with so much anticipation and hope. The transplant team referred to the day as “Ryan’s second birthday,” a phrase that struck me deeply, in light of Ryan’s original day of birth. On April 17th, 2016, Ryan took his first breath as his mama took her last. By a miracle of God, this premature baby survived his first days in the world. On this second birthday, I prayed, and continue to ask, that this day was and is all about redemption.

Sacrifice was required, and Sharon bravely gave 650 ml of her bone marrow for the sake of Ryan and Geoffrey. As she was wheeled down to the second floor,  I felt the deep emotion and responsibility, once more, of having another child go into an operating room. This is the fourth time with three different little ones in the last month. She stayed for 3 1/2 hours before the transplant team walked up to Ryan’s room with a small cooler in hand. It was Sharon’s marrow freshly harvested and getting ready to be placed into brother.

Within an hour, Sharon was awake and being brought back to her room. Senge (Titus’ sister, Linda) and our dear friend Gogo Debi were with her. And the transplant team were in Ryan’s room transfusing Ryan’s little body with sister’s marrow. The doctors and nurses had warned us that the transplant can often feel anticlimactic for the family. I assured them that the mantra we are living right now is: boring is good. But it did not feel anticlimactic to me. At least 1001 steps had led to this moment, and I felt grateful. As the marrow began to flow into Ryan’s body, Titus played Emmy Kosgei’s song, Taunet Nelel. The lyrics sung in Kalenjiin:

Taunet ne leel, kabwate ne leel Ogeero, Ayai che leelach Ame gus kong, ameee ker emet Ogeero Haiy ay ay ay

It’s a new beginning. There’s new thinking – look at it! God is saying, “I am doing a new thing. Don’t look back.”

One hour and fifteen minutes after the transplant began, it finished. And now there is the waiting and watching, the hoping and praying that Sharon’s marrow will be fully engrafted into Ryan. There is the prayer that he will be spared from infection, that the ongoing side effects of the chemotherapy will be minimized.

On Thursday evening, the day was capped off with Sharon waddling into brother’s room to sit and hold Ryan. She was obviously sore from the day. Ryan was delighted by her presence, unaware, as one friend put it so beautifully, of the shift that was taking place within the universe.


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