In one moment our whole life changed

Our son Elias: In one moment our whole life changed

There are seasons in life that shake everything. These seasons are often set off by explosive events that take us by surprise and leave us in shock- pieces of expected norms scattered all around us. We don’t always choose these times but these times seem to choose us.

For my wife Pam and I the explosive event was the birth of our sixth and final child, our son Elias Ben Abram. While a new child always changes everything- Elias’ birth challenged all out preconceived notions of what we thought our life would look like- all our plans came to a crashing stop. Shortly after he was born we discovered he has Down Syndrome and in turn a congenital heart defect. Since then it’s been a roller coaster of emotions and doctor visits and a journey to find grace in the midst of the storm. Because he has a weakened immune system last week we spent around five days at UVA hospital in Charlottesville, VA after a bad cold turned into pneumonia. In six weeks or so we will return to UVA for Elias’ heart surgery and then stay for another week of recovery time. The official date for heart surgery is set for April 8th.

Because of all this, around a month ago, we made the difficult decision of temporarily moving off of the farm we live on to seek needed support from my wife’s parents who live thirty minutes from us in the suburbs. We plan on going back sometime after Elias’ surgery but as the weather turns warm and Winter gives way to Spring we won’t be doing our typical large garden plot. Instead of cultivating vegetables we will be cultivating the recovery and healing of our son. We had also planned on starting chickens this year but that is being put on hold. The older couple who owns the farm we live on plan on still doing a garden and thoughts about chickens still simmer on the back burners of our minds but we have to start asking ourselves: what does the new normal look like?

This Spring consider planting a row of vegetables for us as a reminder to pray for Elias and our family.

J. Fowler

J. Fowler is the website editor and co-founder, along with his wife Pamela, of the Sustainable Traditions project. The Fowlers live with their seven children on a farm near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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