I know that many of you followed the story of Baby Oakes that I first posted here many months ago. As I mentioned last week, it is with a heavy heart that I pass along the news that Oakes passed away. While he is no longer here with us on earth, Becky and Greg know that by sharing his story with everyone he was able to touch many lives. They are asking that people share with them what Oakes taught them. You can e-mail them at LessonsFromOakes@gmail.com or leave a comment here and I will pass it along.
There is one lesson that stands out to me from following Oakes, Becky, Greg and mostly Isla through all of this. It is going to sound strange, so stick with me ok? I just read Bloom (the story is about the unexpected birth of a baby with down syndrome) and one of the things she is told in the book by family and friends is how lucky she is, that she will experience life in a way not many others do. She is worried that her older daughter will miss out on the sister/sister bond that she wanted to give her with a sibling, and her family and friends tell her that she is giving her so much more. To think of the lessons, the compassion, the caring that her daughter will learn with her sister.
The past few months I have been so impressed with Isla. The stories about her, the pictures of her with Oakes. Reading Bloom it all kind of came together for me and I realized that what I was seeing. I was watching a girl learn to grow and love. I was watching a girl learn compassion and caring. Patience and hope. I was also seeing a girl learn to deal with her parents being gone a lot, but appreciating the time she had with them. I was witnessing a child learn the grown up balance between hope and acceptance. For a while I felt bad for Isla. Her parent’s attention was so divided – home/hospital. There was so much emotion in her life all the time. But I realize now that Isla was given a gift. She experienced a bit of life that not many other people do. The lessons learned and the feelings in her heart will last forever…and as she grows into an older child, a teen, an adult – those lessons and feelings will remain. I think the lesson for me in all of this, the one Oakes and family taught me, is that even in pain and sorrow, even in struggle and tears….there is always an upside. Always a “take away”. Always a bit of silver lining.
I also learned the amazing strength that a family can have. The power of motherhood, and fatherhood. Becky and Greg will forever be regarded in my mind as two of the strongest people I know. I know Becky in real life, but have not seen her in years. I long to hug her. To tell her that she is in the top tier of moms out there. I can’t be in St. Louis for the celebration they have planned this Sat, but I will be thinking of them…that day, and many other days.