#3 of a 4 part series | “Live With Unspeakable Joy”
Keaton was welcomed home by his siblings and a big crowd of relatives awaiting his arrival at the airport. Keaton had a family of his very own and we had a treasure from Heaven. He belonged, he was chosen, and he was loved. The next days, weeks, months, and years were filled with doctor visits, therapy appointments, and surgeries. Keaton had surgery within the first two weeks of coming home to replace the feeding tube in his nose with a more permanent one that was placed in his stomach. He would eventually have three more surgeries to help improve his quality of life. Matt and I quickly learned the ins and outs of all kinds of medical equipment, medicines, therapy devices, and how to correctly work a feeding pump.
Although this little boy had so many medical needs, he chose to live life to the fullest every day. Anyone who has ever met Keaton talks about his smile. Keaton was happy, joyful, and so full of life. He absolutely loved being part of a family and being involved in everything we were a part of. Right from the beginning, he developed a very special bond with each one of his siblings. They would tickle the back of his neck and make him laugh so hard his little eyes would disappear. Keaton had this infectious giggle that was the most precious sound I’ve ever heard. Our older kids were so good to make sure he was included in everything. They would throw a blanket over him so he could enjoy “hide and seek”, gently wrestle with him on the floor like all brothers do, read him stories, play games with him, and work with Keaton on his new skills he learned each week in PT and OT. Keaton loved to cuddle in mom and dad’s bed during family movie nights.
Keaton enjoyed going on outings to the park, zoo, and swimming pool. He was very intuitive and would observe things closely, as each day was a new adventure for him. He learned so much from his time at Blank Children’s Hospital Physical Therapy. He loved going to see his therapist, Jason, every Monday to learn new things. Keaton was given an assistive walker to help him learn to better use his legs. One day when he was in his walker, he all of a sudden started to move his legs in a walking motion and walked forward. Our kids started cheering for him and we caught that most special moment on video. The song “Overcomer” by Mandisa happened to be playing on the radio as Keaton took his very first steps. Our daughter, Whitley, was so excited and she said, “Mom, Keaton is an overcomer of cerebral palsy.” Every time we hear that song we think of the big smile on Keaton’s face as he took his very first steps.
Keaton enjoyed the years of decorating Easter eggs and Christmas cookies, bedtime stories, Fourth of July parades with the relatives, birthday parties, and early Christmas mornings. He had family vacations to Mount Rushmore, the Creation museum, Disney World (he got his “embarrassed face” when Tinker Bell came over to talk to him), and many small trips to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Keaton spent many hours cheering his siblings on at soccer, football, and basketball games, wrestling, track and cross country meets. Our kids knew that Keaton was their biggest fan. No matter what the outcome of the game or meet, Keaton always had a smile for them afterwards. Through all life had to offer him, he enjoyed every moment and would get so excited about the littlest of things. Keaton’s favorite song was “Happy Birthday.” He would stiffen up and start to laugh whenever we would sing to someone. He would get so excited that we would usually go back and then sing “Happy Birthday” using his name, even when it wasn’t his birthday, so he would feel extra special.
We knew that this child was one of the greatest blessings God could have ever given us. He had such a rough start in life, endured painful procedures, and had extreme difficulty with the simplest of daily tasks, but he continued to live everyday with an Unspeakable Joy in his life. Unspeakable Joy are the words that have always come to my mind to best describe Keaton. Keaton knew a love so deep, unconditional, and pure from his family and from God that it was displayed everyday in his smile, laugh, and personality. Unspeakable Joy is a joy that is so incredible, amazing, and wonderful that there aren’t words to describe it. Keaton couldn’t talk, so I think that’s why God gave Keaton such a BIG smile for this joy to radiate from him for all to see.
Thank you for sharing Keaton’s story. I love reading about him and remembering his joy and his bright smile. I especially love the story of the “Overcomer” song playing when he walked for the first time – how perfect! (And don’t forget, Robin Roberts was featured in Mandisa’s video for this song! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8VoUYtx0kw. )