by Tamera, mom to Braxton from China with an SN of limb difference
Yesterday we awoke before the crack of dawn. This was a big day indeed. Braxton and I were headed to Shriners Hospital to receive his first prosthetic leg. It was merely 5:00am when we headed out and yet Braxton was wide eyed and quiet in the still of the early morning hour. As we drove the now familiar highway, he periodically asked questions revealing his mixture of emotions varying from excitement to uncertainty and disbelief to daring to dream. After four and a half years of tackling the world so differently from most of his peers, Braxton found himself on the brink of new opportunities and countless possibilities. A prosthetic leg. Wow, it has been a long journey to get here. I have dreamed of this day since we first saw Braxton’s captivating, orphaned face in a picture on a waiting child list in March of 2008. And now nearly two years later, his dream… our dream… is being realized.
While we were driving, I too, had many emotions and questions running through my mind. Fear, uncertainty, excitement, anticipation, joy. Questions like – Would he be able to walk? Would he cooperate? Would he like the prosthetic or be overcome by this ensuing fear that is so normal? Will he reject it or embrace it? I decided to take all of these thoughts and emotions captive and bring my every fear to the Lord. He is so faithful and He met me right there in our car on that highway and gave me a confident peace – a peace that I knew that no matter what today’s obstacles entailed, He would see us through.
When we arrived at the hospital, the sun was coming over the horizon and the morning felt promising. I decided to jump in with both feet and believe that we would see some miracles today. Braxton and Bryce joined me and the excitement was building. We made our way up to that little room on the second floor with big mirrors, parallel bars for learning to walk, and a history of previous children learning to put one foot in front of another. As soon as Mr. Dan from prosthetics walked in the door, Braxton pressed “Do you have my prosthetic? Can I try it? Is it ready, cuz I am!” Mr. Dan looked shocked at Braxton’s readiness since during our visit two weeks prior Braxton had many tears mixed with whining and complaining as he was so fearful of the whole experience. With no delay, Mr. Dan brought out and presented the new prosthetic leg fully armored with the Disney character Lightning McQueen and a lever for bending the working knee. Braxton squealed with delight and asked to put it on. Within no time, we were learning the many little maneuvers required in order to put on the prosthesis.
Then the big moment. Like a little warrior girded up for battle, Braxton stood timidly for the first time on two shoes. Next, Mr. Dan picked him up and took him to the parallel bars. These bars are significant for me as I am the mama of a competitive gymnast who propels his athletic body with great strength and technique around these types of bars. Now my youngest son at the age of 4 ½ gripped these bars for the first time and would inspire and awe me with equally amazing athletic potential – he would take his first steps.
Better than anything I had ever dreamed was the feeling that I experienced when I saw Braxton grab those bars and bravely take his first steps. Sweet, miraculous victory – God is so good!
Braxton has a long road ahead of him as he learns to walk and maybe even one day run. As he learns, he will fall. When he falls, Bryan and I will continue to urge him to get back up, dust himself off, and try again as we cheer him on. It will continue to be a journey with obstacles and road blocks, free-ways and toll booths, highways and speed bumps, setbacks and victories… but isn’t that how we all get through this journey called life? I am confident that our Great BIG God will continue to help us show Braxton how to maneuver through this new course of his journey.
Yesterday our son not only took his first steps in learning to walk; he also took huge strides in learning to believe, to hope, and to dream! Don’t you love a good story of victory and overcoming the impossible? Me too! But, we vow never to forget that there is a price that was paid before the victory could occur (sound like any other story you may have heard). There was an amputation, a second surgery for wound control, and more surgery to come. There was loss, pain, grief, fear, phantom pains, a spica cast, a stinky stump, stitches and more stitches. There were many miles and hours in the car where Braxton watched the Disney movie Cars at least 237 times as Tamera listened to inspiring speakers like James Cecy, John Piper and John MacArthur on CD for hours on end while traveling in the dark of the early morning. There were many hours waiting, many professionals planning, superb surgeons’ gentle hands and notable expertise, several tears and tantrums, multiple tubs of PlayDoh and several dozen stickers. There were many prayers whispered and several cries out to the Lord. Many words of encouragement from friends and family and much patience splashed with tolerance from Braxton’s siblings were also in the mix. A leg was amputated and now a new form of mobility is possible. We are blessed to parent little Braxton as his life is a constant reminder to us that all there is always a price for freedom and there is always a sacrifice in victory.
We have learned that Braxton’s physical disability does not define him. Limbs are truly overrated. What defines him is that he is our son – a significant and vital part of Team Wong. What defines him is that he is a courageous little boy who trusts his GREAT BIG GOD and in Him alone there is sweet, miraculous victory.