Saturday, February 27, 2010

a birthday letter to jonah

dear jonah,
your mom often writes letters to you. and occasionally you take over the blog (those are my favorite posts, by the way) but today, i thought it was appropriate to write a letter to you.

exactly one year ago, i was in a hospital labor and delivery room. mind you, i've never experienced labor before, and the closest thing i had witnessed was watching too many episodes of "a baby story" on TLC during college. but when patrice asked if i could be there for your arrival, i couldn't resist. it was partly selfish--here i was, no kids and getting to actually see a birth before i had to experience it myself. and part of it was wanting to document your whole life, starting from your grand entrance into the world. i had a connection with your mama and pictures.
you see, i was sorta the unofficial williams family photographer. i took some pictures of your brother gabe when he was still in your mom's belly, and they ended up being really important in remembering him after he went up to heaven. i also had fun taking pictures of you while you were still in her tummy (your mom is beautiful all the time--but especially beautiful when she's pregnant) and it just seemed right to be there. it was a big deal--you were a big deal. you were finally going to be here, and we all couldn't wait to meet you, this little boy that we prayed for.

i've known your mama and daddy for many years, and your mom has always been one of the best friends you could ask for. she's honest and sweet and is one of those friends you can pick up with even if you haven't talked in a long time. she was there for me when i was still figuring out how to make my faith my own in college, and i always knew i could trust her to be there for me when i really needed her. she's decent at karaoke, has a wicked sense of humor, and makes the best sweet tea in the world.
and your daddy. i have a feeling many people wonder about this dude that married such a smart, quick-witted woman and how he handles that. well, your daddy is hilarious, too. he's got a great laugh that's infectious, is awesome with one-liners and fast sarcastic responses when your mom is trying to be serious (she gives him a look. trust me, you'll know the look one day.) but on the inside, you can tell he's a softie. he loves you so much and can be incredibly sincere and compassionate in those moments. he knows more sports trivia than the average sports almanac, is a huge fan of "the simpsons," and is a fantastic daddy. you're one lucky boy, jonah.

it was an early morning when we checked in for your birthday. we knew it'd be a long day, but we still had a fun time with some of those humorous moments in the hospital. like this pain management chart and those funny faces. your mom was game for joking around and stayed cool as a cucumber as her labor progressed.
we kept watching the contractions get stronger and faster, and soon the pain medicine kicked in. after doing some blogging in the morning and playing scrabble online with all of your aunts and uncles in the waiting room, i headed out to eat lunch. (i ate chipotle, and it's the one and only time i've ever eaten there. as a long-time fan of moe's, i was intrigued. it was good, jonah, and i only say this to entice you to continue eating solids so you will one day be able to enjoy the wonder that is tex-mex foods. your parents are fans as well, as is apparent by their close relationship with el maguey )

i wandered over to the mall and bought some steelers superbowl stickers for his car (they were actually a good team last year, along with the tarheels--we'll discuss ACC sports another time, before your daddy gets a chance to brainwash you) and then got the call that whoa, your mom has progressed and it's almost time. i drove back to the hospital, made it upstairs with all my gear and got set. it was showtime.

and jonah, i was not scarred for life. i actually (gasp) left the experience wanting kids myself and being okay with this whole labor thing. your mom was awesome, and in a short time (i think 20 minutes or so, though i can't say for sure) you were here! there were tears of happiness... there was joy... and then there were doctors. lots of them. we knew something wasn't quite right, but no one knew what. your skin was red and raw in a lot of places (probably, looking back now, some of the worst it's been, though your mom obviously would say for sure) and the doctors soon whisked you away. your dad followed with you, stopping to tell your family and finally sharing your name with them. your dad never left your side for that entire time, following you over to brenner's and staying with you until the early hours that night.

we got to see you before you left. by that point, we had started researching possible diagnoses online. we had updated the blogs. we had cried many tears. jonah, i ran up a phone bill of over $200 because of my roaming charges from that weekend (but completely worth it, because i think i would've gone crazy otherwise.) and that brief visit with you, seeing you cleaned up and your blond hair--just like your mom's--well, it's what helped us hold on.
this was the picture that people saw when they began praying for you. thousands of people, across the country, lifting your name up to God.
and it brought me one of the toughest pictures i've ever taken, second only to the ones i took of ayden's parents at his memorial service. (by the way, do you think gabe is partying up there with ayden? i bet they are having the best time--two sweet boys that i had the joy of photographing and can't wait to see again.)
and the day ended. the next day began, with many of us surviving on little sleep, taking over the waiting room at brenner's, getting to see you in your mummy bandages and finally beginning to understand a little bit about EB. and then the next day came.

and the next.

and the next.

and 365 days later, here we are. here you are. gorgeous blue eyes, a huge smile that has charmed the world, and a gigantic family of supporters and followers and fans that want to celebrate your year in the world.

you have surpassed statistics for expectations, continued to thrive and grow, and even though you sometimes give your parents a hard time with the whole eating thing (remember, mexican food makes it all worthwhile) and sleeping thing (it appears you just don't need sleep--too much of the world to see) you are a happy, amazing little boy. you have a story that glorifies God and His power to bring us through the darkest, most trying times. you have parents who take every opportunity to thank the people who have helped them this past year--those that are close by and can help with dressing changes or laundry, and those that live across the country and are donating items and money to help find a cure for EB. you have a faithful group of supporters that care about how you're doing, where you've been, how long you're sleeping (or not), and even what your mom (and you) had for lunch.

and i think most importantly, you have a life that is meant to be lived. this is just the first year, jonah. i can't wait to see the rest :)

always your first photographer (and biggest fan),