Owen’s Love Nuke.
This is Owen.
On December 17, doctors removed half of Owen’s brain.
Owen is my nephew. He is three years old and he is adorable.
His favorite things in the world are trains, monkeys and riding on his daddy’s shoulders. If I sat and tried for a week, I could not create a cuter set of favorite things for a three-year-old boy. But it gets better.
Owen loves the outdoors, adores his little sister, and while other kids run around screaming and throwing tantrums, Owen can often be found silently touching a tree trunk, gazing up through the branches, a gentle smile resting softly on his face as he watches the sunlight filter down through the leaves onto the grass beneath his toes.
He has Cerebral Palsy, and four weeks ago, doctors removed half of his three-year-old brain, to hopefully rid him of the seizures that have been racking his little body since he was a year old.
Owen, you have got the heart of a lion in the body of a cub, and buddy, this love bomb is for you.
Little Man. And I mean that because you have never been a boy, have you? Not in this life anyway. From the moment you were born, we all recognized the old soul you were, and I think your mom’s friend put it best when she said that it was our job to simply help you along your journey in any way that we can.
You, Owen, are incredible, and have been so from the start. I fell in love with you before I even saw your face. Your mere existence and the unrivaled joy that you brought to the people I love was more than enough for me. I was your biggest fan before I even knew who I was cheering for. I was not alone — there were many of us who felt that way.
In Louise Hay’s book ‘Heal Your Body’, she attributes Cerebral Palsy with a soul’s need to unite the family in an action of love, and while it is unfair that a child be tasked with a responsibility like that, that is exactly what you have done.
From the very beginning, you have been the little glow bug that we all circle around. You have been a rallying point and a battle cry, a cause and a protest march. You have brought a whole community of people closer together, geographically and emotionally, to circle the wagons of love on your bright, little light.
What is happening to you is not fair, but sometimes I think that you are the only one that does not realize that, Owen. You are too busy living to worry about fairness, and in that, you inspire us all.
It is not fair that you cannot play on the high bar stools in the kitchen because we are all too afraid that you will have a seizure and fall off again. It is not fair that you had to try out a dozen different medications — pills that wreaked havoc on your tiny system, drugs that made you sleepy, or crazy, or both, only to find out the hard way that none of them were really working at all. It is not fair that you are three years old and yet you already hate hospitals because they mean pricks from strangers with “ouchy needles” and lots of uncomfortable wires and machines being hooked up to your body.
None of this is fair, Owen. It is not evenly remotely fair, and yet I have regularly watched a seizure take you to the ground mid-play, right in the middle of a game, only to see you come to a few seconds later, ready to keep on playing, ready to go at it again.
So many little bumps and bruises on your head, Owen, but always a big smile on your face. If only we could follow your lead a bit more often.
So many times I have let myself down thinking about the small stresses of everyday life that trouble me. Boys, taxes, my weight, my future. Death by a thousand voluntary papercuts.
And then I see you, Little Man, a giant smile on your face and a fresh bruise on the side of your noggin, and I am made whole again. I am grounded and I am given the fresh and appropriate perspective I need to get up and get back to playing again.
Traditionally, it is the adults that are supposed to teach the children — how to live, how to play, how to survive—but something tells me that you are here to teach us all much, much more than we could ever offer you. Thanks for picking us, Buggy. We love you so, so much.
Actually, let’s talk about love for a moment. Love is a big deal, Owen. You are only three, but you get it.
I do not have to tell you what love is. You know what love is when your mom gives your dad a kiss, or when Grandma comes over and makes you a sandwich, or when your aunt quietly takes your soft hand in hers and sits and stares at you in awe, tears filling her eyes with splendorous wonder. But there are bigger, stronger, more beautiful examples of love, and they are already sprinkled all over your existence.
This is what love is, Owen: Love is when your best buddy and your baby sister shave their heads because they want you to be okay with you shaving yours. Love is sacrifice.
How about another example?
Love is when you are about to have half of your brain taken out of your skull, a radical surgery of last resort to hopefully offer you the best life possible, and even though your mom is terrified for you, for her, for her family and her future, and even though she tries so hard to hide the fact that sometimes she cries herself to sleep, and even though the thought of losing you haunts her for hours some days and takes her to a dark place that she had only previously read about in books — a place she never hoped to see but a place that she now feels comfortable in visiting, a peaceful darkness that feels like home — she is also strong, fierce and gracious, and she has never been more unbelievably beautiful than when she shaves her head too, and then holds you in her arms, because that is what she does and that is who she is.
Love takes courage, Owen, and you were raised by one of the bravest people I know, and for that, for that and for many other reasons, you are blessed.
Though it does not seem like it now just weeks after this crazy, unbelievable surgery — you are one lucky kid.
It will be okay.
How do I know?
Because there can be no other way, my boy. It is hard and it is stressful, since nobody in their right mind would ever choose this path voluntarily, and although we all certainly wish that this was not the route we had to take, take it we shall, together, arm in arm, hand in hand, and we will be okay.
It will be okay.
I know, Owen. Your life has been hard. Really hard. I do not know anybody that would have chosen to live your life, but that is okay. There is not a lot of people who would ever choose struggle or pain or sorrow.
But that is their loss, not their gain, for as you are most certainly aware, hardship does not reduce life, it creates it. Love is pain, and from the strife and struggles come beauty and blessings. Challenges are also blessings, buddy, for all of the amazing lessons and growth that they create.
I think we can all agree that when it comes to challenges, you are fully blessed. For a three-year-old kid, you know more about struggle than most grown men, and have learned more about love than most daydreaming poets.
And your dad, Owen… I am completely in awe of that guy every single day. Even though he sometimes thinks he is weak, or inadequate, or not doing enough for you, for your mother, for his family, I promise you this, Owen: He is wrong. He gets up every morning filled with such an endless love, patience and determination overflowing from his soul that it melts my heart.
Some days he has a smile on his face and some days you can just tell that his heart is filled with tears, that he is drowning inside, that he is hurting like nobody deserves to ever hurt, yet he faces the day, and he inspires the family, and he makes you smile like only a proud and loving father can, like only a good man could, and it is just so beautiful that I feel my soul crying out for something to cling to, someone to embrace, hoping to dance for just a moment, cheek to cheek, with something whole and clean and pure, anything at all, until the music stops.
But look, Owen, it is a tough hand we have been dealt here. I am not going to lie: things are crazy right now. Lives are being changed forever, and every day is a memory we are making as one cohesive unit. Like Baba said, we are rowing the boat together — you, me, us.
And in that regard, it is just like life, little dude, where pain is an opportunity for growth and challenges are opportunities for learning. We face strife, and we overcome. That is all it is about, Owen. Face it, beat it. Face it, beat it. It is all that we can do.
Life, at its core, as it turns out, is really hard, but at the same time, it is punctuated by unbelievable moments of pure joy and bliss that make things not only bearable, but beautiful — and yes, every staggering step forward is a step away from a setback, and yes, we keep walking and we do not ever stop, and yes, we go from one point to the next, writing our stories with every achievement, setback, skinned knee, band-aid, hug and heartache we have seen, felt and experienced along the way. And in that regard, yes, life is a revelation.
Our saving grace is that we do not have to do it alone, Owen — none of us do. I have seen the way our family leans on one another, taking turns at being the support and being the supported, and I know it is no coincidence that you ended up in our arms, and perhaps more importantly, we in yours.
You will be okay, Owen, and so will we.
It will be okay.
Again, and again, and again…
Friends, we are big believers in universal energy and the power of the human spirit to overcome almost anything. As such, we come to you now with a sincere request. Whatever your God, your thoughts, or your beliefs, please know in your hearts that this little warrior will come out of this experience healthier and brighter than ever, and help us make it so.
Occasionally, here at Long Distance Love Bombs, we feel the need to step things up a notch because sometimes a mere love bomb just won’t do. Times such as these require us to gather everything in our arsenal and go nuclear. And that’s what we’re asking of you here today – please send this kid and his amazing family a love nuke that they’ll feel from miles away, one they’ll never forget. Also, if you’d like to learn more about this incredible surgery or how you can help support little people like Owen, please check out hemifoundation.org, a noble cause filled with noble people.