Baby Zeke


I'm constantly confused at the passage of time. It's a wonder to me that days can go by so slowly, yet the years go by quickly. Not a new observation, I know, but it's one that continues to baffle me as I get older. Time seems to get away from me faster and faster each year. 

When I look back over the last year, I am also amazed at how drastically different my life is. I was teaching at a high-needs school in Huntsville, Alabama, driving back and forth to Atlanta every weekend, in the middle of finding new medicine for my overwhelming depression, as well as waiting to hear back from graduate schools. 

My family was walking through one of the toughest seasons of our collective lives. Dad had been out of the hospital for two months, and though his legs were getting stronger from physical therapy and he could now brush his own teeth, he still had a Foley catheder, still needed a walker and on bad days, a wheelchair. 

By this time, right around mid-February, I'd gone through a period where I had spent more nights sleeping in the living room of my sister's house on her couch while my step-mom slept in the recliner. A baby monitor sat on the end table between us, the other piece in my dad's room. Each night I'd wake to "Lucy? Morgan?" and run to his room in a panic, always relieved to find he just wanted grapefruit juice or couldn't find the TV remote. 

In the midst of this, the constant fear that this would be how the rest of my dad's life would play out, my sister's ninth child was born. On February 18, Beth and Jim went to the hospital in the early morning and Lucy took the older kids later in the day. I stayed home with dad, discussing Lucy's upcoming 60th birthday, coaching him through physical therapy exercises, testing his brain with the easiest crossword clues I could find, seeing if he'd made any progress with his attention span and memory. We ordered Chili's for dinner, which I picked up around 5. Ezekiel James was born shortly thereafter and Lucy FaceTimed us from the hospital. He was absolutely beautiful. 

As the sun set, Dad became confused. He could not remember that the baby had been born. He thought the baby was Eli, his now 2 year old grandson. He traveled through space and time, finding himself in Vietnam, in Waynesboro, VA, in the living room of the first house he owned with his high school sweetheart. For an instant, he could not remember my name. 

The next morning, Lucy and I called 9-1-1 to have an ambulance take him back to the hospital. He had an infection, we knew it, and he needed IV antibiotics. Lucy went with Dad, and I drove across town to Northside to meet my nephew.

I'd never before in my life held a baby so young, so small. I sat on a built-in bench by the window in Beth's hospital room, Zeke's head nestled in the crook of my elbow and stared at him. I could not believe that just yesterday, I'd been talking to him with my hands on Beth's belly, telling him I couldn't wait to meet him. And here he was. 

I think there are few moments in life where we truly feel God's presence, but as I held Zeke in my arms that day, God was there. Amid the confusion and the roller coaster of Dad's health, God had given our family this precious gift, a new life to love, a new soul to protect and lead toward Him. My mind traveled to the cycle of life and death. Did Zeke's life mean Dad's death? Could the cycle of the world be that specific, that close, that cruel? 

As I drove through rush hour traffic in Atlanta, I cried in the silence of my car. Tears of happiness at the overwhelming love I felt for both Zeke and my Dad, tears of fear, that the two of them might never meet, that Zeke might never know Dad's gift of making babies laugh. The fear that was most deep-seated of all: that my dad may never meet my own children.

A few weeks later, I received a picture message of my dad holding baby Zeke in his arms. I had to have another teacher watch my class as I stepped out in the hallway and cried. It was the culmination of a moment I had not thought was possible but that I had prayed for. And God had answered my prayer. 

Now, I watch my Dad sit at the kitchen table, Zeke perched on his lap, as they read Time Magazine together. I watch him pick cars up off the ground when Zeke drops them. I see a man who was at the brink of death, who fought for life, who came back to us and is determined to stick around for all that life has yet to offer him. 

As Zeke turns one, I can't help but see him as a sort of miracle child. Not because the circumstances of his birth were dramatic or tragic or, really, out of the ordinary at all. He is a miracle to me because in a time when I needed hope, a reminder that God works for my good, that God loves me, he gave me this sweet child in my life to remind me of all of those things. Every time I hold him, I think of all the things I had thought were impossible, and I am filled with a hope that God will breathe life into them, just as he did with the dry bones in the valley for Ezekiel thousands of years ago.

My Thoughts, FaithMorgan Coyner