“A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” –Steve Jobs
In our work, people tell us their stories. Sharing our experiences helps us connect the dots, discover a message, a theme, a course to take. Of course, our most difficult experiences are a part of a pattern that reveals a much bigger picture.
The major dot connector for us has been our son Paul’s life and death. Today Paul is 29 years young. Our son is the premier teacher who continues to teach us so many things including; unconditional love, passion for defending the voiceless, and an uncompromising, don’t give up, see it to the end, warrior mindset. This little person has broadened our view and still helps make the connection for us.
The first time we saw him was through ultrasound at 8 weeks old. We thought we were miscarrying. From that very small picture our doctor knew something was not quite right with the pregnancy. A few weeks later the ultrasound revealed that his head, limbs and torso were all at different levels of development. As 25 year old expectant parents we were experiencing something way beyond our experience and what you are never ready for.
While it was already clear that he had several challenges it was also clear our love began to grow, our bond deepened and we named our little one Paul.
In month 5 we saw Paul on screen during our amniocentesis. He was moving away from the long needle that was drawing up the amniotic fluid…that’s when we knew he was a genius because Scott had the same reaction to that needle!
The amniocentesis revealed that Paul had a syndrome that was incompatible with life, Triploidy. Our view and value of life was now broadening.
Over the next 4 months we saw him through regular ultrasounds. We heard his beautiful heart in all four chambers through an echocardiography. We experienced his physical skills through the last trimester weekly stress tests.
We defended his life and dignity while the Perinatologist strongly encouraged us to abort Paul all the way through the 9th month. In every appointment this doctor would advise us not to bond with our baby. When he gave us reports of his test results he called our child, “cells and tissue,” we would reply, “do you mean, Paul?”
The last six months were overtaken with prayers and fasting that Paul would be healed here on earth… not in heaven. There were countless sleepless nights. We cried out to God, earnestly expected a miracle and prepared to bring him home with us. We shared pictures of children with the same birth defects with his big sister and brother so that they wouldn’t be afraid if he looked different. They couldn’t wait to bring their little brother home.
On On March 31st I felt him flip in my womb for the last time. On April 1st, at full term, he was born-still. Our hello was also our goodbye.
Even though his spirit already left his body, he was held, cherished, prayed for and wept over. Aunts, uncles, grandparents and his big sister, Sara, came to the hospital to say goodbye to our beloved Paul. Our view of life and eternity was broadening. Our relationship with God and each other was deepening.
At Paul’s memorial service, We watched Ian and Sara search our faces for answers to their question, “what is the meaning of this?” Over the years, together we have been connecting the dots. We couldn’t answer “what is the meaning of this” but we have found moment by moment what my dad meant as he eulogized our Paul, “there is great meaning in this.”
When our son Josiah was born a year later on April 14th, he joined the broader view, the connecting of the dots. That will be a story for another day.
Our whole family carries Paul’s heart in our hearts as we sit with others who question the meaning of life. We take his hand in ours when we hold the hands of the vulnerable, disregarded and marginalized. God has given each of us the gift to walk long, arduous journeys alone and in community with eternity in mind. Paul has helped us broaden our view of life and the meaning in it.
Today our son Ian is taking us to the CSO to hear Gustav Mahler’s 8th Symphony. It is Mahler’s bittersweet view of the brevity of human life, Together we will pay attention to the pattern and make connections. I will pray the prayer from the story of blind Bartimaeus, “Lord I want to see.” Let us see you and what you are doing in our lives, and in our world.
We look forward to the date when the last dot is connected, the broadest view of eternal life is experienced and our family is reunited, Heaven-side. Right now we’re still connecting the dots. Until then, we celebrate your life, our beautiful, beloved Paul Anthony.
Paul Anthony Loughrige 4-1-88-Eternity