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Thank Heaven for Our Devon


Yesterday was no ordinary day, at least not in the eyes of our son Devon. I love how birthdays make a kid's eyes shine...the cake and candles, the presents, the way the day is all about them, but especially the thought that they can now announce their brand new age to anyone who asks them. You'd think that Devon was probably most excited about all his new gifts-but you'd be wrong.

He loved the fact that his mom and baby brother could be there to celebrate with him.

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't know many freshly-turned seven year olds who consider their baby brothers' presence at home to be a special occasion. But then again, I don't know many Devon Kaats. He's one in a million, this kid. A very tender hearted soul-he wears his heart on his sleeve and isn't ashamed to show his affection for the people he loves. Throughout my pregnancy with Jaymun, I could count on the fact that when Devon arrived home from kindergarten, he'd pull out a little handmade love note or picture for me. The notes almost always had to do with the baby, how much he loved the baby or how he was praying for the baby. His kindergarten teacher and Wednesday night teacher and Sunday school teachers were constantly telling me that he lifted up his baby brother in prayer every single time they asked for prayer requests. After what's happened to Jaymun, it makes me wonder if Devon didn't have some childlike sense of knowing that this baby would need extra prayers. And it didn't surprise me one bit when we heard from the oncologist that Devon is the perfect match for Jaymun's future bone marrow transplant!

When Jaymun was born, Devon was the one most heartbroken that he couldn't hold his baby brother right away. Jaymun was taken down to Children's Hospital later on the very day he was born, so our kids only got a quick glimpse of him before they transported him. Every time Dave would bring the kids to visit in the NICU and even now in the HOT unit, Devon is the very first to burst into the hospital room and eagerly ask to hold Jaymun right away. He will stand by the crib and just watch the baby sleeping, completely fascinated by all of Jaymun's facial gestures and sweetly commenting on how cute he is. When Devon got a cold this past week while we were home with Jaymun, he was devastated that he couldn't hold him. We had to assure him over his sobbing that as soon as his cold cleared up, we'd let him.

In a way, I see Jaymun in a new light through Devon's eyes. I value the gift we've been given even more now that Jaymun's been diagnosed with leukemia. Devon's enthusiasm for his baby brother makes me appreciate the value of family-and should be a lesson to anyone who thinks big families are much too overwhelmed to pay attention to each child individually. Our children don't think of Jaymun as a nuisance, rather just the opposite. They were extremely excited to welcome him into our family and his impending arrival was always the topic of our conversations. Now that he's here, they love on him as much as they can and just want him to get better so he can be home for good.

Devon's love for Jaymun is a precious thing to experience. He reminds me that life is so very fragile, but so very worth it. As much as my heart hurts for our baby to go through this experience, I'm grateful that I have the love of our family to focus me on the goal of Jaymun's recovery. I want Jaymun's siblings to be able to see that cancer doesn't have to destroy the joy of loving a baby. They are having fun enjoying all of Jaymun's new developments and his smiles are probably appreciated more because we know he's going through the toughest time of his life. We're able to share in all his little baby accomplishments and cheer him on together as a family when he triumphs over his intense chemotherapy treatments. Life means something to all of us-perhaps more than other families who maybe sometimes take it for granted. It makes this whole thing a bit more bearable than going it alone.

I can't say I remember a whole lot about being seven. Bits and pieces scattered here and there throughout my memory. But I'm pretty sure I know one energetic seven year old with freckles who won't easily forget this year of his life. The year he was able to give his baby brother a fresh start with the very blood from his own body. I can't think of a better gift than that!

Happy Birthday Devon! You make seven a pretty lucky number. Love, Mom