I am so thankful to my co-worker, Jake Davenport, for sharing his story on the blog today. Jake is our business teacher and he earlier served in the Army National Guard. In this week where we honor service men and women, I am so glad to work alongside someone who makes a point to honor those who served in wars, and who works hard to help our students day in and day out. – Evi
When my wife (Shiloh) and I found out that we were expecting our first child we were ecstatic. We were ready to start a family. Shortly after, we found out that there were complications with our son’s development. Multiple doctors confirmed the diagnosis and it became clear that if our son survived the pregnancy and birth, he would never be able to come home with us. The odds we were given were a 50% chance of a live birth and a life expectancy in the minutes. The following months were painful, and we leaned heavily on each other and our family for support.
When the day finally arrived to meet our son, we felt a flood of mixed emotions. We had everyone there (a priest, photographers, and our entire families) although we didn’t know who we would allow to enter the room. His birth went smoothly. In the moment when we heard his cry, everything was perfect. Jaxon blessed us with seven hours before he passed. In seven hours, he was baptized, met his family, and spent every moment in our arms. It has taken time to understand just how blessed and grateful we were for having Jaxon.
I do not tell this story for sympathy, quite the opposite. Jaxon was an amazing blessing. The seven hours were a blessing. The support that we had from the community, our family, and each other was a blessing. Time has changed my attitude from “Why us, God?” to “Thank you for him, God.” My gratitude for my son and his unique situation has had a residual effect on other areas of my life. I find myself more grateful in general, though I know there are many things I still take for granted.
Around November 11th every year, special attention is drawn to the Armed Forces and Veterans and reminds me just how grateful I need to be for our way of life. To preface my writing this next part, I want to be clear that I do not, nor have I ever identified myself as a Veteran. Varying definitions would make my use in reference to myself controversial anyway. I served an eight year contract with the Army National Guard but never made sacrifices that would warrant such an honorable title.
During my time in the Army National Guard, I was required to leave home for short periods of time ranging from three weeks to 6 months. When I first joined, at the point I was at in my life, I enjoyed going. As situations in my life changed (adding a wife and kids) my attitude changed as well. Leaving became tougher and life goes on without you. I am thankful that my support system was strong and remained largely unchanged but that is not the case for many, and I’ve witnessed this first hand. Spouses grieve the absence of living service members or simply grow impatient and many find another. Children are born, take their first steps, have birthdays, and say their first words. Friends and family members die. Many times the opportunity to return home for these events was unavailable, but often the opportunities are passed up due to an unwavering sense of duty. Some do not ever come home. They did that and continue to do that for me, my family, and all of us.
I love this country. I love Nebraska. It truly is “The Good Life” (Nebraska State Sign, 2019). Yes, I take many things for granted. Life in America is intended to be that way. It is easy to understand that something works, but it takes reflection to understand how something works. The service members of present and past generations are the “how” for our way of life. I thank God for the centuries of selfless work provided by our Military to build our great country. I thank God for everything that I was afforded the opportunity to take for granted. I am thankful for Jaxon, for service, and for the good life.