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A List of Henry's Accomplishments

alec vanderboom

I chatted with Henry's Mom on the phone today. We joked about some of the incredibly bad books out there for comforting children after a death. One famous author talked about "celebrating their accomplishments." "That's a sentiment so geared for the death of an grandparent," Carla said. "What accomplishments are there for a toddler?"

I thought about her rhetorical question. I'm happy to say that Mr. Henry was an incredibly accomplished little man. Here's my partial list. I hope you'll add your own list in the comments.

1.  Henry introduced me to my friend Carla.

2. Henry introduced me to Reece's Rainbow.

3. Henry made the sin of abortion even more awful to me. Every time I read about a tragic situation in Eastern Europe, where a disabled kid is left in a cold metal crib for hours each day, I have to give this coda "but things are even worse here in America." What are we up to now in abortion of special needs kids? 90 percent for Down Syndrome kids?

4. Henry gave me this perfect mantra for how I feel for when I follow God's directions and still end up feeling totally overwhelmed task. When Henry's Mom called after getting bad news from CHOPS she said "I could have given $10 to his name and turned away."

5. Henry reaffirmed the incredible power of siblings. I'll never forget how Henry loved to splash in his Sister's Barbie pool. Or how he confounded expert physical therapists at CHOPS for days, but within hours at home and done all sorts of seemingly impossible post-surgery moment all in an attempt to steals his older Sister's Littlest Pet Shop Toys. Love makes the best physical therapists, not educational degrees.

6. Henry taught me the value of a name. He died. He didn't die with the last name of the father that abandoned him. He died with the last name of the loving father who moved heaven and earth to bring him home and clothe him in a name and a family.

7. Henry said Mama! He said Mama with his mouth, and his eyes, and his heart.

8. Henry was the only toddler in America who was allowed to eat McDonald's french fries after major surgery.

9. Henry smiled. A lot.

10. Henry learned how to smile again after major scary surgery that put him right back into the blank stare of his orphanage days. Henry accomplished resilient joy!

11. Henry got baptized. I believe he was confirmed and received last rites.

12.  Henry taught me that sick kids die. Sometimes suddenly. Even spiritual children I love and pray for constantly. Yet no prayer for a sick kid is ever wasted.

13. Henry taught me that sometimes God's happy ending never looks like something that would make a Mom jump on an airplane--but that we should take that "ride of a lifetime anyway."

14. Henry made me less afraid of special-needs adoption.

15. Henry taught me how to love the orphan. How to love a stranger and see a son.