Each time a plane flew overhead as I played with my baby in our old backyard, we’d take a moment to look up and stare. His tiny finger would extend towards the sky as he pointed at the “pane,” and we would watch it until it disappeared into the clouds. I never intended for him to enjoy airplanes. Since he was born with a complex heart defect and lived with low oxygen levels, flying was not an option. Still. He loved them, so who was I to let medical boundaries slow him down? Don’t get me wrong, though I didn’t stop his love for planes, I initially refrained from encouraging it. But living next to a small airport afforded us the opportunity to wait and watch for hours as the sky became a source of joy and fascination. Drifting clouds, passing people…they were all going somewhere, and it made for a wonderful private playground up above. Somewhere between his first and second birthdays, I learned to embrace his passion and even began to cultivate it.
It may seem like a small feat- people of all ages fly every single day. But for me, it’s so much more than taking off and landing. It’s accepting that anything can happen (despite our plans) and acknowledging that only God knows what’s in store for us. It’s being rewarded for hoping against the odds. It’s celebrating how something so seemingly small is actually a huge comfort and blessing beyond measure.
The thing is, less than 27 months ago, I watched my son code, and as his tiny body was being pumped and slammed with tubes and wires, I tried not to picture him anywhere but grounded next to me. About 5 months ago, his heart surgeon told me to enjoy every moment with Charlie– to forget about future plans and tomorrow’s worries and goals, because at 65% oxygen level and a surgery that may or may not save his life, boarding an airplane was the least of our concerns. Just 4 months ago, we celebrated his second birthday (at the airport park!), and despite his blue hands and lips, I allowed my heart to hope for the day that my mind knew we might not see. That’s the beauty of hope- it allows joy and happiness in our hearts when our minds and logic say otherwise. Now it’s been less than three months since his third open heart surgery, and not only is his oxygen higher than ever projected, he has been cleared to fly. Today, I am so happy to say our hearts soared above the clouds as we took our first flight! Seeing my boy jump with joy and unbridled enthusiasm left my mouth aching from so much smiling and my soul rejoicing at the sight of answered prayers.
While flying, he walked to each window, eager to see the world from up above. I loved every second of watching him take in all the tiny houses, cars and trees because seeing things through a child’s eyes is always a beautiful feeling but especially when the child is your own, and especially when he’s due for some happiness after so much suffering. In the hour that we rose above our circumstances, I couldn’t help but think about how wonderful life can be. Complete strangers can save a heart through prayer, surgery, love and a much anticipated flight as a boy’s imagination and a mother’s dream can become a reality.
Though Charlie still has a congenital heart defect in which only half of his heart facilitates the majority of his blood flow, I imagine him someday becoming the best sort of pilot a passenger could hope for. I know that since we always look up for strength and direction, his heart will forever be ready to soar to great heights. When I see him play with his fleet of toy jets, Cessnas, and helicopters, I see the power of prayer and love and hope. I see that with these things, the sky is the limit.
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary.” Isaiah 40:31
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11