Steve Heronemus

The Gift of Life

As I type this our firstborn child, our baby, is in labor at our local hospital. Our firstborn is in the process of delivering the firstborn for her and her husband.
Our firstborn, our baby whom Suzanne spent more than 30 hours trying to deliver before the baby became distressed and required emergency Ceaserean Section. Our baby born blue, who a mere 100 years ago would not have survived, is about to have a baby.
This is our baby, to whom I sang songs from Jethro Tull and the Lutheran hymnal, who slept on my chest, to whom I read The Hobbit, and whose feet I tickled to wake up for school. She is the same baby I taught to play Horn, who loves animals and who learned to excel at all aspects of theatre. 3 years ago I “walked” this baby down the wedding aisle and “danced” with while standing in my wheelchair.
So many people remark how quickly the years pass, but for me that hasn’t been true. Since being diagnosed with ALS in the first year of college for our baby, I have learned to slow the day down, rejoice in that time and take nothing for granted. We have a gift, and that gift is life for this day.
As I look at our baby and wonder at the baby soon to be born, this miracle of life is beyond my comprehension. I get DNA instructing cells to specialize and divide, but then I look at my first grandchild’s hands, or my wife’s eyes. There is such beauty, such complexity, to observe, but then I become awed trying to comprehend how this all comes together. How do iris cells know how to connect to the correct muscle cells to dilate or narrow? How do finger muscles know when enough of them have formed?  
All I can do is wonder in astonishment at every life and lean on the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 139 “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

Amen. After all, I was never given a chance to see this day.