….Paul gently placed Franco in my arms, and I sat with him, rocking back and forth. Franco continued to cry. Quietly, Paul left the room, and I was alone with my son.
I looked down at him, at his tiny little face screwed up and wrinkled from crying. He was red and wailing. I said nothing. Instead, I rocked him and touched his face gently with my hand. I didn’t pat him or shush him or beg him to stop crying; I simply placed my hand on his cheek. Almost instantly, his tears slowed, the wailing stopped, and he calmed down. Like magic, I had been able to make my son calm down with only a touch. I looked at my hand, amazed and yet humbled by the power I had. I was struck by a realization: Here I am, a first-time mom, and this little tiny baby is in my arms crying. Putting my palm to his face instantly calmed him down. I was overwhelmed with the awe-inspiring amount of power I had. Why was I given that? What had I done to deserve it?
A second wave of emotion hit me right after the first. I was filled with gratitude—gratitude that, as a mother, I had that power to comfort my son, to transfer my love and protection to him with a touch. And then I felt a sense of responsibility like I had never known before. When I was pregnant, of course, I felt responsible for this little person growing inside me. He was completely dependent on me for everything, and I did my best to make sure that he’d be ready for everything that came his way once he arrived in this world. But, until that moment when I had calmed Franco with just a touch of my hand, I hadn’t realized that my responsibility was far greater than I’d ever imagined. I was a mother; I was responsible for raising my child to become who he was going to be. I was responsible for instilling in him confidence, generosity, grace, and independence. That was all up to me. I had never felt such responsibility before. I looked down at my son, now sleeping soundly in my arms, and I realized that by giving birth to this child, I was given a great power and a great responsibility.
I was determined not to waste either one.
"I realize that everything that has happened in my life—each success, failure, or diagnosis—brought me to where I am today. When you’re in the middle of something, it’s easy to think that you’ll never get through it, but if I have learned anything, it’s that you will get through it. Even more important than that, when you get through something, you grow and you learn and you become a stronger and better person because of it. Everything in my life has happened so that I could prepare for this, so that I could help and serve.
Some people read scripture and use those words to inspire themselves and others. Not that scripture hasn’t helped me at times, but sometimes I like my scripture disguised in a country song and a bottle of wine. Rodney Atkins has a song that’s always helped me. In it, he sings, “If you’re goin’ through hell, keep on going. Don’t slow down if you’re scared, don’t show it.” That’s always helped me to push through, move forward, and keep on going."