The Energizer Bunny.
Happiest Human Alive.
Above is a list of what I classify, "The Nathans." Not just any Nathan though, our Nathan. My oldest brother who just turned thirty-five on December 18; the man who wasn't 'supposed' to live much past the age of eighteen. Born with a severe blood disorder, later diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, this guy has seen it all.
I'm the youngest in my family. Nathan is the oldest, and then there's Sean, who is the middle. Many of my earliest memories consist of me reading to Nate, playing cards, watching movies with him in his bed, and playing school with him. I have always loved him dearly and have been super protective of him. Once in middle school, I punched a boy in the chest because he referred to Nathan as my "other brother." I defended, bragged, prayed for, and loved my brother. Once though, I can remember running down our stairs yelling at my mom, "I WISH I WAS HANDICAPPED TOO!" [NOT my best moment as a daughter or sister.....] I just write that to show you it wasn't always sunshine and roses. As the youngest, there was a lot I didn't understand. How he required more attention for instance; I mean, I got it, but at the same time, I didn't get it. Not fully. I didn't understand his medical needs or list of allergies, I couldn't fully grasp what HIS life looked like, nor did I have a great respect for it in my adolescent years. And then I grew up.
Throughout his ENTIRE life, Nathan has fought to live. And so far, he's overcome. He has beaten the odds so many times I can't even count. Blood disorder as a baby, countless seizures including a Grand Mal, acute liver fail with NO WAY TO LIVE but miraculously his liver regenerated and came back to complete normal function. His heart has stopped, he had total organ failure (which includes the kidney) in Toxic Mega Colon (doctors said 1% chance of survival with that one)...I mean seriously guys, he really has been through it all.
Every time that something has happened, I find myself asking God why. Why NATHAN, God? If anyone deserves goodness and happiness and peace, it is him. And then I stop to wonder, if I have always believed that everyone has sinned, do I believe that Nathan has? No, I suppose I don't. He doesn't understand what it is to be mean or have hate. He knows what those things look like though--Nathan went to school just as we did, and I'm sure he endured many uncomfortable stares and conversations. He has sat in hospital beds with doctors, nurses, and surgeons conversing with my parents, speaking and acting as if he is not even present. He's had many good medical staff by his bedside, don't get me wrong. And several amazing home helpers, but frankly and bluntly, not enough. Not enough whatsoever.
People have given up on Nathan, walked out on Nathan, and refused to treat Nathan. But yet he doesn't give up.
One of my favorite things about him is the way that he laughs. When Nathan laughs, you KNOW it is genuine. It is the most heartfelt, innocent, contagious sound that as I type, I wish I could hear. However, currently, my big brother is kicked back [insert sarcasm as I attempt not to cry] in yet another hospital bed, being poked and prodded, talked over and talked about.
He has pneumonia, again [something he has fought MANY times], and really needs our prayers. My heart currently feels so emotional, so drained. It was December 21 when I hugged him, telling him we were headed back to Kentucky the next morning and we wouldn't see him then. He gave me a head hug, said, "Bye," then continued flipping on his laptop going through endless photos [one of his favorite past-times.] I've talked a lot about Nathan here, which is the sole purpose of this post, but I feel it's equally as important to fill you in a little on my parents and their role.
My mom had Nathan when she was twenty-four years old. Her first born, her first baby. Her first son. She and my dad were only married for three months when she got pregnant, and I don't think she'd mind me telling you that she wasn't exactly excited [heck, would you be??] For the last thirty-five years though, she's devoted her entire life to caring for him. She fought so that he would have a good education, she made sure he walked down the aisle at his high school graduation, and she worked as his advocate, always. On top of that, she raised my brother Sean and I. She kept extensive baby books [my first tooth, all my report cards, handwritten notes and countless pictures] and she made gigantic scrapbooks for our high school graduations. I mean seriously, these things are so WELL done, you'd think she took classes or went to school for design. (She didn't.) When I had my two kids, she packed all the bags and got in the van with Nathan and my dad, I'm sure telling him to HURRY the entire six hours. She gave me endless back tickles, massaged my sore calfs when I entered the sports stage, helped fuel my passion for horses, never doubted me, and didn't bat an eye when I told her I was moving to Kentucky to pursue my dreams.
My mom is my superhero, there's just no other way to put it.
Then there's my dad...the guy that I think can literally do and make ANYTHING. He is a master plumber and HVAC guy by trade, but he also helped build the house I grew up in from the ground up with the help of my grandfather. He can build anything, tile floors, repair leaks, and it always makes me laugh how good at math he is [I am TERRIBLE]. Most of my memories are that he worked, a lot, to keep a roof over our head and provide for our family. But he also found the time to take me to horseback riding lessons and shows and to leave me notes in my car that read, "Love you, Myrtle," with a $20 bill for gas money. I got in a pretty bad car wreck freshman year of college and totaled it; my first car, a silver Dodge Stratus. I was hellbent on having another Stratus, (why am I so weird??) and he and my mom found me a navy blue one. He drove it six hours to me in Louisville and took a 1-way flight back to Michigan the same day. My brother Sean and I are pretty concerned in that we don't think he'll ever actually be able to retire...my parents need to still pay off the home, and Nathan's medical bills are well, as you can imagine, pretty intense. My dad is sixty-four years old and when he comes home from a full day's work, he does his best to pitch in with Nathan.
All of this to say that my Dad is one strong fellow. He is a quiet man, but his heart is big.
At the end of the day, our family is kind of a miracle. Life wasn't easy, but I doubt that most of you can say that yours was either. And ultimately, I am praying for something positive, something profound, something miraculous--to happen for my mom, dad, and Nathan. I have a healthy and happy family in Louisville, Kentucky. Two kids, a boy, and a girl; my husband and I are full-time teachers, I'm of course a professional photographer and blogger. My brother Sean and his wife [who was his high school sweetheart!] have been married for nine years and live a successful and happy life in Nashville. We don't need too many more blessings, but Nathan does.
Whether you're a Believer or not, please just offer up prayers for him tonight, and continuously since you've now read this post and know his story. He needs another miracle to overcome the odds, to beat the hospital bed, and to make it home safely [and in good health] once again. Scroll through these few photos below to see how loved (and wonderful!) he is.