Mattering

I just finished reading John Green’s ‘An Abundance of Katherines’ and I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I also figured out the mattering thing Colin was going on about. I also had a ‘eureka!’ moment when I figured it out.

It happened in either the fifth or seventh month of our stay here in Cairo. I was watching the evening news and yet another story about Edward Snowden came up. I thought to myself, ‘How on earth had a NSA analyst become so widely talked about? I mean, here you have this low down dude, who leaked some high-up stuff onto the internet and now he’s all the news talks about.’ It’s quite amazing how the world media can go on and on and on about things.

Anyway, back to mattering. Let’s take the American Presidents. Each one goes down in history because he was the leader of the ‘free world’, but each is also remembered by something else he did. Washington was the first, Lincoln ended slavery, Kennedy was assassinated and Obama is the first black. Granted, they are high-up in the chain of people that will be remembered, but what about the low-end? Snowden is now famous (or infamous) as the person who leaked.

My theory is this; Normal people like you and me will be forgotten. It’s inevitable. We will remain in the thoughts of the people who were close to us and we will linger on social media, but that’s it. What we as normal plebs can do to be remembered needs to be spectacular. Something like writing literature like Shakespeare (please no) or making movies like Meryl Streep (although that would be difficult to achieve her level of accomplishments). That way we can remain somewhere in someone’s mind and then we won’t be forgotten.

Disclaimer: This is all very materialistic and quite frankly a bit depressing and pathetic, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. My father has achieved that and my mother is strongly on her way there whilst I sit here and write this blog.

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My (His)Story

Aside

(I did this for a school oral in 2012)

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My parents were married for five years before I was born. They both led physically active lives when they met and the last thing on their minds were health problems. They kept themselves busy by playing golf, running road races, cycling, playing tennis and squash and hiking occasionally. So, after a year of marriage, they thought it time to start a family.

When my mom still wasn’t pregnant after a year, they were wondering if something was wrong. After many visits to doctors and many wrong diagnoses they put my mom on fertility drugs. Still, nothing happened in spite of prayers and medicine and many tears, I have been told.

In the meantime, they were becoming disillusioned and discouraged and stopped the whole process. But, influenced by a mutual friend, they visited a well-known gynaecologist in our city. This doctor – a gynaecologist – found that my mom had a heart murmur. With the help of ultra sound sonar it was found that she had a leaking heart valve due to having rheumatic fever as a child.

The gynaecologist and cardiologist advised my parents to have artificial insemination and get pregnant before having heart surgery. They went along with the plan, but after it wasn’t successful the first time, further examinations showed that the heart operation was first priority. It was quite a bit to chew on, because now my parents were faced with the possibility of never having children, because afterwards, being on anti-blood clotting medication, it would be difficult to become pregnant and/or bring a normal child into the world.

A month later my mom was in theatre, and after eight weeks she went for follow-up examinations. The cardiologist was impressed with her quick recovery, but it was the trip to the gynaecologist, though, that changed their – and our – lives. He found that my mom was already twenty weeks and three days pregnant with me!

There were absolutely no physical signs of pregnancy yet, except that my mom’s body still wasn’t functioning as it should have, which wasn’t out of the ordinary for her after having anaesthetics.

The head of cardiology at the hospital advised my parents to abort me. He gave them a long list of what could have gone wrong with my development and gave them five days to make a decision. After that it was too late for an abortion. My mom said that on that day she fell in love with my dad  forever, because he rose to his feet and told the good doctor in no uncertain terms that they have no right to say ‘no thanks’ to what God has decided to give them.

On a sunny Friday morning on 6 September 1996, at three minutes past eight, I was born and my parents named me, Michael – meaning ‘who is like God?’ in Hebrew – to remind them constantly of God’s love, grace and faithfulness.

I was born without any of the abnormalities they were warned about… Although my best friend, Wilhelm would probably disagree…

 I survived the anaesthetics, the cooling down of my mom’s body during the heart operation, three days without food, because of a mistake by the hospital personnel, and the antibiotics and all the medication afterwards. In retrospect they found that my mom didn’t ave to take the anti-blood clotting medication for nine days after the operation, which gave me just enough time to develop fully before she had to start taking it. To state how significant this was – she had another heart operation in 2005 and needed to start taking the medication the very next day after the procedure, even though they recycled her own blood!

If our Father sustains me, I will turn sixteen in three months’ time. I am not just a survivor. Just by every one of you calling my name, we are reminded daily of our Creator’s hand in our lives. Because of my parents’ belief I had not become another abortion statistic. I was born, in spite of everything, because our Father in heaven has a purpose with my life.

Read my mom’s more detailed version of this story on her website at http://www.thewritingclub.co.za/writingclub/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52:michael-story&catid=48:faith-related-articles&Itemid=81