Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hold A Mighty Heart!

I remember when my mom was 'large with life' with my sister, people would ask if she was hoping for a boy or a girl. Her answer was always, "As long as it's healthy, it doesn't matter."
I thought that was just her being polite. Of course the baby was healthy! And it better be a girl 'cause doggone it I already had two brothers and I needed an ally!
My wish came true, and that was a very happy day in my life, but it wasn't until not that long ago that I truly understood the wisdom of my mother's words.
I think it's good that as we women go through the building of babies (which is what I like to call it), we're blissfully unaware of everything that can go wrong. We ponder names. We nest. We debate the merits of different strollers and cribs and color schemes. We grow bigger and bigger until really, all we want is our body back. Then we endure labor and scream out such profound things as "I wish I were a marsupial!" and in the end we forget the pain and gaze upon our perfect little miracle with love and awe, still blissfully unaware of the many things that, in a cruel twist of fate, could have gone wrong.
When our second son was born he had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.
I was in the midst of pushing when the nurse descended on me with an oxygen mask. I told her I didn't want it and she said, "It's for the baby."
I didn't understand the depths of the significance of this, but I sucked in oxygen, and in the next few minutes the doctor un-looped my son's neck and, with a final push, our son came into the world completely healthy.
We were immediately swept up in the miracle of new life, not fully aware of the bullet we had dodged until years later when my husband came home from work with the story of a colleague's son who was severely handicapped and forever bound to a wheelchair because the umbilical cord had strangled the oxygen from his brain during birth.
For those of you who have read Flipped, I'm sure you now see that the story line of Uncle David (Daniel in the movie) comes from a very personal place. And it's not that I ever intended to share this story in a blog post, but something happened this week that has compelled me to do so.
I got an e-mail from a girl in China who had seen the Flipped movie.
She and her boyfriend have been in love for three years but they have not been able to allow themselves to be happy because of a "pragmatic problem"--her boyfriend has a "retarded older brother"--one who was born with the umbilical cord around his neck.
The parents were allowed by the Chinese government to have a second son (the boyfriend) so that he could, in the Chinese custom, care for his parents (and, in this case, also the older brother). Which means that, if she goes ahead and marries the man she loves, she marries into the responsibility of caring for the brother.
In her letter she wrote that after seeing how the Baker family maintained their strength and kindness and still loved each other despite what they'd been through with Uncle David she was encouraged to "face the difficulties in life and try my best to hold a mighty heart!"
To hold a mighty heart.
What an exquisite expression.
And what a extraordinary experience for me to see my blissful ignorance grow into an understanding of my good fortune and blossom into a novel, then became a movie that crossed the seas and gave courage to a young woman in China.


Caradith Craven said...

What a beautiful, moving post! You write from such "a mighty heart." That is why your stories and characters touch the heart and soul of your readers, and give them hope and courage for their own lives.

Alexa said...

Wow, that was a very heartfelt post. And I understand what you said there about women going around blissfully unaware of all the things that could go wrong. But maybe they weren't exactly unaware. Maybe they just wanted to hold onto things as they were and not think on it. Maybe....

But, hey, I wouldn't know!

I wrote a version of Waitin' for rain to fall ('cause that song is just plain awesome so I had to write it). Thought you might want to hear (or at least read) it. Here it is:

Waitin' for rain to fall
You can stare out the window
all that you like
but why do you keep
Waiting for rain to fall?
Maybe it's all been hard on you
Pushed against the wall
But there's no need to close your eyes
Waitin' for rain to fall
When it all comes down to it
What you got to lose?
After it all you're standing there,
Only one left,
Waitin' for rain to fall
Maybe it's all been hard on you
Pushed against the wall
But there's no need to close your eyes
Waitin' for rain to fall
When all's said and done
you're left standing there,
the only one,
for rain to fall
Maybe it's all been hard on you
pushed against the wall
but there's no need to close your eyes
Waitin' for rain to fall
Just waitin' for rain to fall

That would be my version of Waitin' for rain to fall. It's not that great but it's the best I could come up with. And it really tells a story, in my opinion, I believe all songs do if you look close enough.....


Pooja said...

Wow that was one of my fav posts! Really touching.

Anonymous said...

wow!! i never knew that the story of uncle david came from an (almost) personal experience. and to know now that its helping people as far away as china to make the right decisions is amazing and for that i give you a round of applause *claps in a circular motion*

Ashlee said...

You making an impact in someone's life doesn't in the least bit surprise me. This is truly a beautiful post and I'm glad she shared that story with you so you were able to share it with us. You never cease to amaze me.

g said...

Touching post:') LoVE IT!!!!


Stefunny said...

I just saw Flipped for the first time yesterday :D Just in time for this to make sense.

Eleanor said...

That's such a amazing post.

On another note, I'm going to see you today at your local book signing! I love living in a town so close to yours!

Wild About Words said...

Wendelin, there are no words . . .

Thank you for sharing that heartfelt letter and your deeply touching story.

IzamaRi said...

Hi Wendelin.
First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Izamari and I'm from Mexico.
Well, I'm writing that about 24 hours ago, I saw the movie and I can not get me Flipped the history of the head.

And if I liked the movie, sure the book will fascinate me, I hope I can order it here Book Depository that in any library I found it: /

Well, I'm going with this is that I would love to habalr with you, maybe you can give me a little time for an interview for my blog and so make yourself known in Mexico and later perhaps attract the attention of a publisher for to publish your books in Spanish.

I leave my mail: and hope you can connect with me.

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

I really appreciated all these comments! So nice, thank you! I think about all those poor people in Japan right now and wish I could tell them to hold a mighty heart...

Alexa: Big things in store in upcoming books, the song is definitely on the list. I love that you've written your own version--very nice!