Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write an INSPIRATIONAL article (11/27/14)
TITLE: The Night He Was Laughing
By JK Stenger
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I was awakened in the middle of the night by an unfamiliar sound. I looked around the room. A pale moon cast an ethereal glow on the hard wooden floor. My wife was still sound asleep, her steady breathing reassuring me that everything was fine.
But just as I was drifting back to sleep, I heard it again.
Laughter? Happy laughter?
Careful as to not disturb my wife, I slipped out of bed and looked in the crib at baby Martin. He was sleeping but smiling. Was he having a dream?
Another bubble of joy burst from his tiny lips. This time it woke up my wife as well.
"What's happening?" she rubbed her eyes.
"Don't know, but Martin seems to be having a good time."
Martin hardly ever had a good time. From the day he was born, his life had been one of suffering. He and his brother were born at seven months. His brother was healthy, but Martin had a heart defect and the doctors didn't hold out much hope.
"We’ll have to operate, or he'll die. One of his cardiac valves is not functioning properly."
Operate? On our little baby?
He was six weeks old when they performed the surgery. When the doctor came out of the OR, he smiled and gave us a thumbs up.
"All went well. That little guy's a fighter."
But all didn't go well, for Martin never fully recovered.
While his brother grew into a healthy, chirpy baby, Martin grew steadily weaker. So weak that even the slightest draft would turn into a cold, Inevitably the cold would become pneumonia and we would be back in the fearful world of tubes, doctors and stress.
How do you comfort a baby, that cannot understand the cruel fangs of disease, pain and suffering?
He was like an angel. When Martin stared at me, with his big, serious eyes, I could sense a softness that is rarely experienced in a world where the heavenly values mean so little. But happy? No, that would not be the right word to describe him. He hardly ever smiled, but who could blame him? And while his brother grew into a healthy, chirpy baby, Martin grew steadily weaker.
As parents we did what we could. We consulted the doctors, and followed their advice. We besieged the heavens.
Lord heal him. Do something. Deliver him.
One week before his first birthday, my wife decided to pray a different prayer. The constant trips to the hospital, the pain on Martin's face and the invariable insecurity were getting too much.
"Lord", she prayed while we knelt by his crib, "Your will be done. Not ours. I surrender all. Don't let Martin suffer any longer. If You want to take him home, please Lord, we will not object. I will no longer stand in the way. He's Yours. Make his life glorious. Either heal him or take him."
Such a sense of peace we both felt.
And that was the night Martin laughed.
At one point, he even roared with laughter, shaking his little fists in the air in jubilant excitement. For nearly an hour he chuckled and chortled.
My wife and I stared at each other in amazement, then went back to sleep.
The next day while he was nursing, he suddenly turned pale.
“Something's wrong!" my wife cried.
I raced over to witness Martin’s last moments in this world before he quietly slipped into the next.
We looked at each other. Even though we felt deep sadness, a beautiful peace surrounded us.
Nothing was wong. Not in the least. Martin was home.
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