Two years ago today, I was sitting in a doctor's office in downtown LA with my wife. I had my arms wrapped around her, and both of us were crying. We were pregnant with our third child - a boy, our third boy, actually - but there were problems. The specialist we were there to see had just informed us that our baby had a severe case of a genetic bone disorder called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). This disease limits the amount of collagen in bones, causing them to be thin and brittle. For some people, this means going through life with a few more broken bones than normal. For others, it means a lot of broken bones, multiple surgeries, and significant pain. For still others, it means spending their entire life in a wheel chair with severe bone deformities. For our baby, the doctor told us, it meant that life would almost certainly not last more than a few days, if that.
As I sit here and type this, there are tears in my eyes again. But they do not come from a place of sorrow. I am crying tears of joy because my son is now 21 months old, and he is amazing. Here he comes, walking across the living room. He is holding a ball. He starts off at a normal pitch. "Daddy," he says, firmly. He pauses for about half a second. "Daddy!" he says, more insistent now. He barely pauses this time, before belting in a tone that indicates he will not be denied, "DADDY!!!"
"Yes, Wyatt?" I respond, before he can raise the volume to decibels normally experienced only at space shuttle launches.
"Ball?" he asks, holding the object up, hope in his eyes.
And so I get down on the floor with him, and we throw the ball back and forth. He chases it a few times and throws it back (he's a lefty and he has a great arm), before he gets bored and decides that "Ball" is only fun if it involves tackling. So he waddles over, building up as much momentum as he can, and lays a hit on me that would make Dion Jordan proud. It makes me proud, too.
My son does have OI, but miraculously, it has turned out to be a somewhat mild case. He broke a femur when he was three weeks old, and he fractured his skull just before he turned one, but those have been the only incidents. His upper femurs are bowed and will probably need surgery at some point, but right now he gets around fine and is improving his climbing skills (a development which is at once beautiful and horrifying). He has loose ligaments in his ankles and he is very small for his age (and likely always will be), but those are secondary concerns, because he is alive, and his life is great. My boy, Wyatt (we also call him "Wolf" because his initials are W.L.F.), who the doctors thought would not survive birth, is talking, and playing, and singing, and laughing, and walking. The video below is of Wolf taking his first steps a couple months ago, steps my wife and I thought he would never take, and if it brings you even a tiny fraction of the happiness that it brought me when my wife sent it to me at work one night, then I know I've made your holiday season just a little bit better.
You might ask what this has to do with the Ducks or college sports. It's a fair question. The internet is a funny place. It's a great place to interact with others and collect information, but it's also full of inanity and bluster and anonymity. Many of us visit our favorite blogs, peruse the content, leave a few comments, and that's the extent of it. We may get to know a few other commenters by their preferred internet handle, but all of the discussion is based on the subject of the website (or tangents thereto, not that we at ATQ would know anything about that). Relationships built in these places tend not go very deep.
ATQ is different. Better. A beacon of light in the darkness of the interwebs. When I posted about my son's birth on here for the first time, I did so somewhat reluctantly. People would bring up personal issues on occasion, but usually they were minor. However, Wyatt's birth was such a joyous event in my life, and I felt such a strong bond with the people on ATQ, that I had to share the story. The response was overwhelming. So much kindness was poured out by people I had not even met. Before long, they organized a drive to raise money to help people attend an OI Conference in Portland. Will (aka Axemen23 - a great guy at heart, despite the ribbing he takes here) got some things signed by Chip Kelly, and these items were auctioned off, with the proceeds going to the OI Foundation. The ATQ mods (with a special shout out to Matt Daddy, who helped organize a lot of this) and the ATQ commenters supported me and my family in a way that was far beyond anything I have ever experienced. To this day, I still have people who ask about the progress of my little Wolf. To all of you, I gladly say: He's doing great!
This is a true community that goes beyond boner pill jokes (sorry HRD) and arguments about Brian Bennett's obvious superiority to Darron Thomas (kidding!). Much like a football team, members here come from all different walks of life. Rather than letting those differences become stumbling blocks to building a greater sense of camaraderie, they enrich us with an appreciation for diversity and serve to make this community stronger. I am so grateful to the members of ATQ for their willingness to join together and invest time, money, and effort into helping my boy and others like him. In today's world, acts like this are few and far between, so I lift a cold glass of Jubelale to all of you.
As you go about your December, celebrating the holidays however you may, preparing for the Ducks to take on the Badgers in the Rose Bowl, give some love to your fellow Duck fans here on Addicted to Quack, and especially the moderators and contributors who make this such an awesome place to visit on a daily basis and a great community to be a part of. I also know that Matt Daddy will be putting up a post in the next while where there will be an opportunity again to bid on some Ducks gear with the proceeds going to the OI Foundation, or another place that means a lot to children with OI called Camp Attitude - a summer camp in Foster, Oregon for kids like Wyatt. If it is on your heart to give to either of those organizations, it would be most appreciated. Stay tuned for Matt's post.
Most importantly, I encourage you to give thanks for the blessings in your life. And of course...well, what do you think, Wyatt?