A few weeks ago Jesse was asked to be part of the Children’s Hospital Radio-A-Thon. To tell his story. The very idea of it made me laugh – Jesse? Speaking out loud and at some length so everyone could hear him? I’m not sure he needs words like I do. He’s a man of few words in every way. Instead, he speaks through his ready arms – loving, through his generous laughs, frequent and free; through his almost constant smile, and a readiness to please you.
Such language doesn’t translate on radio.
To survive the Radio-A-Thon, we practised a little story he could offer – “I don’t really remember being sick, because I was too young. What I do know is that I have my Dad’s kidney now, and it works great!”
On the big day, we did this several times, on several different radio stations, with reasonable success. Me filling in the gaps. Then one host asked Jesse a question off the cuff. “How would you describe yourself today, Jesse?” he said.
I paused, a touch panicked. Didn’t know whether to jump in and save Jesse with my own words, nudge him with my elbow, or shoot the guy a warning look.
Instead, Jesse more than handled himself. He looked right at the guy, gave him a smile, and said “I’m Happy”.
I was so lost for words I could have cried. That’s exactly how I would describe Jesse. (Though I would use 25,000 words to do it.) He is. And he can articulate it.
What a gift. To be happy. To know it.
Watching Jesse, I think anyone, anywhere can see he’s happy.
When Jesse eats his food, he’s smiling and it’s all over his face.When he plays on the trampoline, he’s laughing. When he rides his bike, he gets bugs in his teeth because he smiles the whole time. When I have to wake him up first thing in the morning, his first response is a smile. His second is to snake his arm around my neck and pull me close.
I read this verse in Thessalonians 1 and it struck me that real happiness – love – is obvious to anyone watching. Real love gives itself to lots of others, and everyone knows it. The writer says “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
Delighted. Shared our lives. I’d truly like to be delighted all the time to share myself with you, but this girl jealously guards some solitude. Jesse really is delighted to share himself with you.
Jesse turned this week. Ten. Seriously. I know.
Instead of camping with a bunch of fabulous women and their kids, trailing 8 other boys on bikes, fishing rods in their backpacks and five bucks in their pockets for worms and/or candy … Jesse spent it in hospital, with me.
He complained of a sore back and was up at night crying with it. He never cries. My good friends who know reminded me Jesse never lies. So I packed Jess up and we spent 2 days in Emerg before finally figuring out that what he had was pneumonia – no cough, no other outward symptoms except this sore back, short breathing and a fever.
Because I have friends in my life who give themselves like family – they don’t ask “what can I do to help?”, they just turn up and they tell you what they are going to do to help you – I didn’t have to drag the three girls with me. Jen took them all.
And you know what? When he didn’t get his birthday party and he didn’t get his cake and he didn’t even get any presents, Jesse wasn’t upset. We watched a movie heads deep together over the iPad. We played cards. We ate tacos. And he slept sideways in our bed three nights in a row.
Jesse was happy. Because instead of sharing some of his life with some other kids camping, he was delighted to share some special moments just with me.
When I saw it like he saw it, I could be happy too.