“When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Sometimes I feel like my life is a tapestry. Everything feels so connected, so woven together, each experience, relationship, each moment dependent on the other. Nothing feels isolated or singular. Every part of who I am dependent on the rest.
I am creative. I am nurturing. I am determined. I am passionate. I write. I think. I speak. I love. I touch. I breathe.
I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend. I am a teacher. I am a leader. I am a giver. I am a writer. I am a voice.
I work with my hands. I live with my heart.
To think of my journey as a straight line or even a winding path, seems so limiting. My journey feels much more like a woven tapestry of colors and textures- of dark and light, of bright and dull, of soft and rough. I don’t leave one moment and move on to the next, I carry each one with me.
I have experienced great joys and incredible tragedies. I have delighted in beautiful, tender moments, and wept over deep, painful ones. I have grown through pain and learned through hardship. I have seen the kindness of God in my life both through the beauty and through the pain.
I recently met an incredible man, Whispering Danny. Meeting him to some could seem like a chance meeting, a “nice to meet you” kind of event. But for me it has caused some of the fibers in that tapestry I call my life to resonate brighter than they ever have before.
During my first meeting with Whispering Danny, I learned that he is a Messianic Jew who was born in Russia and was brought by his mother to the United States in 1975 as a young boy so that he could receive better medical care for a condition in his vocal chords that even to this day requires him to have benign tumors removed every 14 weeks. I learned that he has chosen to leave his tracheostomy open so that he can recover from his surgeries more quickly. We talked about my Mattie and the miracle of his life. He was kind and gentle as we talked about life and Jesus.
In my second meeting, I took a picture of Mattie to Danny, which he promptly tucked in the edge of a picture frame. He told me that he will pray daily for my son. He asked about Mattie’s diagnosis and medical issues. I told the story.
And then Danny began to share more of his story.
I learned that Danny spent the first five years of his life in the confines of a hospital room in a Russian medical ward for critically ill patients. His room had no window. It was his world. For 5 years, he knew nothing of what lay outside those four concrete walls. He was allowed no visitors, including his family. When his mother came for him, 5 years later, he didn’t know her or even trust that she was his mother. He was strong, he had lived through pain, and had learned to take care of himself.
As Danny told me more of his story, tears were streaming down my face. He handed me a tissue and his beautiful, raspy voice, he said, “Oh, please don’t cry, it has a happy ending.” Well, darn if that didn’t make me cry even harder!
He shared with me about his mother, how their relationship grew and healed, and how she never let him become hindered by his disability. In fact she pushed him to do things that others felt he couldn’t do. When neighborhood friends told him he couldn’t be part of their boxing club because of his trach, she showed them that he could take it by knocking him out in front of them. When he complained about not being able to swim in the pool like the big kids because of his trach, she pushed him into the deep end so he could learn to hold his breath and swim. He shared with me how he loves to look into the eyes of young children with similar health issues and encourage them that they can do anything they set their heart to do.
I don’t know if I will ever meet Danny’s 5 foot tall Russian American mother, but I would love to. I would love to look into her eyes and thank her. I would thank her for going back 5 years later and taking her son out of hell, even though he may have despised her. I would thank her for going to the ends of the earth to make sure that her son could achieve all of his dreams. I would thank her for her brave and courageous example of mothering a child with special needs. I think I would like her.
I had little ability to control the tears streaming down my face because it took all of my energy not to burst into heaving sobs. Somehow in the words of Danny’s story, I heard my own children’s stories. I saw Emma and Aiden in an orphanage in Ukraine. I remembered how Emma despised me for coming to rescue her because she didn’t understand my love. I saw their past and was reminded of what could have been. I sat listening to a beautiful, strong man who had forgiven and been healed because of Jesus.
And I felt so much hope.
Hope for my own beautiful ones.
And I felt courage.
Courage to become the very best mom that I can become. To love my children well. To provide them with all of the encouragement and support, and maybe a push in the deep end from time to time, to help them become all that God longs for them to be.
I have two more meetings with Whispering Danny. I will go each time with my ears and my heart open. Not only is Whispering Danny helping me tell my story through the art that he is creating on my back, he is adding to the tapestry that is my life by offering to share his story and his heart with me.
If you’d like to learn more about Whispering Danny’s testimony, I encourage you to watch his video here:
Whispering Danny – I Am Second.
Image “Woven Tapestry” by Claire Jones