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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Walk (07/20/06)

TITLE: The Greatest Gift
By Ann FitzHenry


From the moment the doctor uttered the words “it’s a boy,” I knew something was wrong. The conversation, buzzing only minutes before, became hushed. For precious seconds, everyone waited as my son struggled for his first breath. When nothing came, the room suddenly exploded with activity. “Is he going to be okay?” I implored the nurse standing next to me. With a stiff, pitiful expression she turned and looked away.

Stunned, my husband kneeled by my bed. “Ben’s having trouble breathing,” he stammered, “but it’s going to be okay.” As my heart ached to believe him, my mind knew the truth. Our baby boy, born weeks too soon, had a small chance for survival. When the medivac helicopter landed, the chopping of the blades shredded the remaining pieces of my heart. With hollow looks on their faces, the nurses continued making preparations. Ben, only hours old, faced the most important flight of his life.

Arriving at the university hospital, the doctors and nurses battled to save my little boy. As word spread in the maternity ward, I soon became known as “that mother.” Walking the halls, snippets of Ben’s diagnosis played in my mind. “Ben suffered oxygen deprivation at birth,” the doctor said. “He has a high likelihood of brain damage. The extent of his injury is unknown at this time.”

When he was released from the hospital three weeks later, I entered the sleepless world of new motherhood. In a state of disbelief, I read baby books and tried not to think about the future. Over the next few months we watched, waited and prayed.

At Ben’s six month checkup, the pediatrician showed grave concern at his inability to roll over. Diagnosed with severe developmental delays, the verdict was in. Like an executioner swinging an axe, the doctor handed down her sentence. “He’ll never walk,” she said. With three little words, Ben was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Thrust into a flurry of doctors’ visits, Ben endured countless evaluations. At seven months old, he failed every test. After one particularly grueling session, the doctor peered over her glasses and sniffed, “According to my medical books, Ben has the physical capabilities of a newborn.”

“My baby hasn’t read your books.”

Unimpressed she continued, “Our goal is to establish as much mobility as possible. It’s unlikely he’ll ever crawl let alone walk.”

Enrolled in an early intervention program, Ben attended weekly sessions focused on balance, strength and coordination. Over the next year, I grieved over the child I was supposed to have. In utter despair, I boiled with hurt, anger and blame. From morning to night, I couldn’t stop hoping for a miracle.

As the cool breezes of autumn turned into the frigid winds of winter, Ben continued to fall behind. With a lump of coal in my heart, I grudgingly set up the Christmas tree. “No reason to celebrate this year,” I thought.

One evening while Ben played on the floor, I cupped his tender little ear in my hand and told him my Christmas wish. “Honey,” I whispered, “I pray that someday you’ll walk.” On a quiet night a couple of weeks later, Ben seemed to play with exceptional zeal. Scooting to the couch, he clawed his way up and pulled to a stand. With a mischievous look in his eyes, he let go! Perched on his toes, he teetered around the living room for the first time. Flashing a toothless grin, Ben experienced freedom he had never known. With tears streaming down our faces, we witnessed a miracle. When he finally tumbled onto his diapered bottom, our cheers reached the sky. Like a most valuable player, my husband hoisted Ben on his shoulders and paraded around the room. Laughing in triumph, we beamed with pride.

Even though Christmas was days away, Ben had already received his gift. Wrapped in the special joy of the holiday season, God answered our prayers. For one little boy, walking with God became the greatest gift of all.

*Dedicated to Ben, my every day miracle. Now an active three-year-old, Ben doesn’t walk: he runs! :-)

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This article has been read 985 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Edy T Johnson 07/27/06
Dare I say it? This is Master's level writing. From reader-grabbing opening to tear-jerking closing, this is on target for the topic and as perfect a story-package as anyone could hope for. If this doesn't bump you up a level, I think I'll have to eat my shirt :) Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! What a gift, indeed!
Constance Marie Korn07/27/06
Wonderful, heartwarming! I was sitting on the edge of my seat and praying the whole time. My grandson is three, I know what a little blessing your miracle boy is to you. I hope this places! Constance
Lynda Schultz 07/28/06
Wonderful story, well told. Good thing God doesn't read the books, either! Great job.
Trina Courtenay07/28/06
This brought tears to my eyes, laughter to my lips and then the tears started again. Awesome job! An emotional read - well done.
Amy Michelle Wiley 07/31/06
Beautiful story, and well written as well! My mom was also a premie, and was going blind when she was sent home from the hospital. She's also a miracle baby and had perfect sight on her next check up! Thank you for sharing the gift of your son with us.
Joanne Sher 08/01/06
Wow - this is AMAZINGLY well-crafted - and what an incredible story!!!! I don't think I blinked. Wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL!
Karen Ward08/01/06
Brought tears to my eyes too. Well written, and a very heartwarming story. Praise God for the miracle that is your Ben.
Jen Davis08/01/06
This ia a great story. A very moving piece of writing. "From morning to night, I couldn't stop hoping..." We were hoping and praying right along with you and now rejoicing as well. Very well done.
Debbie Sickler08/01/06
I loved reading Ben's story. You wrote this quite well, especially considering you've posted in Beginners. When the time is right, I'm sure you'll fit right in with the higher levels here. :) Thanks for sharing your little boy with us.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz08/01/06
Powerful writing. This is awesome. I'm still wiping tears of joy from my eyes. Beautiful.
Valora Otis08/01/06
Dare I say, " I told you so," yet? This is a beautiful story, a gift to your readers. I have high hopes for this one, dear friend. Have fun on your climb to the top.
Yvette Nietzen08/01/06
What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing Ben's life with us.
Rita Garcia08/01/06
A beautiful story! I need a tissue, I rejoice in the triumph of Ben's first steps on his tip toes. How precious!!
Shari Armstrong 08/01/06
Just proves yet again that Dr's don't know everything! Wonderful story telling.
Sandra Petersen 08/02/06
I read your (Ben's) story out loud to my husband. Big mistake! I couldn't get all the way through without choking up!

Beautifully written, striking right to the heart and soul of every mother who has had occasion to ask God angrily, "Why my baby?", you have touched many hearts.
Tracey Jackson08/02/06
Wonderful writing. My precious godson faced a similar challenge and now he too runs! Thanks for sharing.
Valerie Routhieaux08/02/06
Wonderful. I thank God for your wonderful miracle gift. You did a very good job of expressing the images and your heart. keep writing
Trina Courtenay08/03/06
Ann, awesome job! Highly Commended...you go girl!

May the Lord continue to guide your quill as you write to glorify HIM!
Edy T Johnson 08/03/06
My precious friend, Ann! Your name is up in lights and I am so delighted for you. Great job, judges! Thanks so much for spotting this story. It is such a work of art, I hope "The Greatest Gift" gets out in the world for all to read.
Valora Otis08/03/06
So relieved that I don't have to start a cyber picket line! ROFL! I'm so thrilled that you're reaping the rewards of such a beautiful story. Bless you my friend.
Janice Fitzpatrick11/02/08
I just happened upon past challenges and saw this and had to reply. Though this was written alot earlier I have to say how beautiful you write hon. You are truly meant to bless others through your writing. I loved everythings about this from the emotion, to the flow, the description and how you capture your readers attention til the very end. Way to go!!!:0)
Thank God for miracles! How amazing our Lord is, isn't He. Praise God He answered your prayer. Enjoy your little ones and keep on writing for the kingdom hon.:)