There are so many things to love about Geoffrey. I am only beginning to discover them all. Shortly after receiving his sickle cell diagnosis, he was terribly sick and I was holding his little body in a waiting room in Eldoret. I kissed his cheek, and with no hesitation, he lifted his head to kiss mine. His affection surprised me. And as one since has put it so perfectly: “if you have been hugged by Geoffrey, you have been hugged.”
G is for Geoffrey. He says this phrase, with great delight, over and over again. Like all children, he is thrilled at the idea of celebrating his birthday. While his is a made up date, there is certainly so much to celebrate. He is currently referring to his hospital ID band as his “happy birthday bracelet.”
Sometime before I met Geoffrey, he had a stroke. It is one of the terrible complications associated with sickle cell disease. It left G paralyzed on his right side. Thankfully, he has regained much strength and use of his hand; but if you watch him walk, it is easy to notice his unsteady gate that leads him to fall over and over again. What is kind of amazing is that he doesn’t seem to notice. Yes, he falls and cries and says, “Mama Ella, I fall down.” But then after one of our crew holds him and reassures him, he is back up and trying to run again. He is wanting to keep up with Ella and saying, “see, I the fastest.”
Geoffrey wears his emotions on his sleeve. If he is happy, you know. If he is sad, you also know. And when he is hurting (which is way too often), you know it. A large stockpile of bandaids has been required to try and cover the hurt that is so very hard to treat and control. In the last few months, G has not only learned to speak the English language but has developed greatly in his ability to articulate these emotions. As parents do, I often tell my kids to “use your words.” But in truth, G does so well at saying: “that made me sad. Or, “Mama Ella, it is hurting.” And now that we are in the hospital for transplant, he is using his words: “I want to go home.” “I don’t like that.” It is certainly a different experience to undergo a transplant with a child that can articulate all that he is experiencing and feeling.
While I encourage my kids in their use of words, I am struggling to find mine right now. The experience of Ryan’s transplant was among the hardest things I have ever known, and I have needed some space and time to be quiet. I have needed to learn/unlearn a few things about praying without words. In discussing this with with a friend, she said: “babies don’t have words, but don’t you imagine that God hears them?” I had never thought through this but immediately replied: “it is in those months and years before they have words, that they learn about trust.” So, here I sit, unsure of what to say but wanting to grow in trust and desiring for life and healing to begin in our Geoffrey.