Sweet Tacos

Dear Sweet Tacos,

“Sweet tacos” is a phrase that Isaac coined one day, a couple of years ago. I was dropping the older kids off at school and as they got out of the car, he yelled, “Goodbye, Sweet Tacos!!!” He said it with all the love and devotion his little soul could muster. It has been a family favorite ever since. You see, tacos are one of the dearest food items in the world to our little Isaac. And if you can call people things like “sweetie pie” or “pumpkin” or even “honey,” surely you can call them “sweet tacos,” but only if you really, REALLY love them.
So, welcome to the sweet taco club!
As you know, Hubby and I have 3 other children. They are totally sweet tacos. We are a package deal, of course, and when one of us is going through something, all six of us are going through something. So while Hubby and I are feeling the refiner’s fire, so are Mada, Bud, and Nugget. They are already really great kids, but I feel like this experience is making them even better. (These kids aren’t perfect. I know that, they know that, you probably know that too. The following descriptions, though, are meant to focus on the positive and highlight their inner gold which, to me, shines brighter than ever right now.)
Nugget, age 12, is our resident thespian. Both of his older siblings (and his mama, wayyy back in the day) have also dabbled in theater, but Nugget lives and breathes it, and despite his youth, his resume is already quite impressive. Recently he became aware of a local theater that raises funds and provides support for people and their families who are battling cancer. He auditioned and landed the role of Benjamin, the youngest brother, in their production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. His heart was already in the right place, and the idea of donating his time and talent to a worthy cause meant a lot to him. But suddenly, in the middle of rehearsals for all of this, his own family faced crisis. Now, our crisis is different, but Nugget has learned in a big way that when a person is battling cancer, their whole family is battling cancer (or whatever their crisis may be) together. The compassion and empathy and tenderness of his already-good heart have grown immeasurably. He feels what they feel in a way he never was able to before.
Bud, age 14, is our resident activist. He is our sturdy, steady guy who feels things very deeply. He is so helpful and dependable that I probably err on the side of asking too much of him, but he never complains. He may feel Isaac’s absence more than anyone, because 95% of the babysitting-of-Isaac is done by Bud. And as our situation here at home went from extremely difficult to full-blown crisis, Bud was my rock and my muscle. Early one morning, I even pulled him out of bed and asked him to run all over the neighborhood to find Isaac and bring him home. Never a moment’s hesitation, never a moment of complaint. Bud belongs to his school’s Hope Squad, which is a club run by the school’s counselors. This group of students is trained to help their peers who may struggle with depression and/or suicidal tendencies. They learn to friend the friendless. They learn to spot the signs of someone in trouble. They learn how to stamp out bullying, cyber or otherwise. This is a cause very near and dear to Bud’s heart and I’m so proud of his determination to change the world for the better. Bud has had a number of important experiences while Isaac has been in the hospital. They are sacred and personal for Bud, so I will leave it at that, but this boy with the heart of gold is turning into a totally dependable man with huge plans.
Mads, age 15, is our resident medic. She dreams of an Ivy League education and a medical degree and traveling with Doctors Without Borders. She herself is still battling her own medical drama after an accident that left her with a traumatic brain injury 2.5 years ago. The brain injury left her with migraine-level headaches, every moment of every day, including the nausea and brain-fog that goes along with migraines. She smiles anyway. She helps anyway. She works anyway. I think perhaps what Mads has learned most keenly through this experience with Isaac is something along the lines of, “if you build it, they will come.” She became aware, as I’ve already discussed at length, that there are children who lack the very basics at the PPH. Shoes. Underwear. Clothing. It hurt her to her very core and she said, “We have to do something about this.” Then she said to the internet (and to all of you), “Will you help me do something about this?” And your answer was a resounding YES. And then, along with the clothing and money donations, love came pouring in. Everything that has been donated to this clothing drive–hundreds of dollars and thousands of items–was donated with the same love she felt when she asked for your help. And lives are being changed. Sad, tender, fragile lives are being changed. Because love can do that.
“When thru fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, my Grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.”
We miss Isaac. We miss him desperately. But we also know that Isaac is where he needs to be. For some reason, this experience with the PPH is something Isaac needed to go through. But that means that I needed to go through it too. And so did Hubby. And so did Mads and Bud and Nugget. Because, as I say, we are a package deal. I see the way it’s bringing all six of us closer together. I see the way it’s turning my children into better, stronger people. Their dross is being consumed, their gold is being refined. His Grace IS sufficient. And we’re learning that even when things are hard, there is so very much to be grateful for.
And YOU, all of you, top that list. You are, in fact, the sweetest of tacos!

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