It’s difficult to describe my son Micah.
Born between countries he entered the world on August 10th in 1988. We left Pakistan two weeks earlier and were transitioning to the United States with Florida as our base. I well remember our shock at re-entering the United States. When we left for Pakistan, we had a tiny 3 month old baby and had never lived anything beyond the student life. We went straight into working overseas for three years.
On return a lot had changed. We realized that with 2 children and one coming any day, we could no longer subsist on our fine student cuisine of Ramen noodles and generic soup. We realized that to get money, people put a card into a slot, punched some numbers and out came the cash. Our first visit to an ATM was memorable. We realized that the cost of living in Pakistan was vastly different from that in the United States, and we realized through our first fast-food meal at Kentucky Fried Chicken that one thigh and breast piece of American chickens were the equivalent of a whole Pakistani chicken.
I went to a doctor who was willing to take on a pregnant woman in her last month of pregnancy and at my second visit she breezily told me that she was going to be on vacation for the following 10 days. I looked at her in shock “But what if I go into labor?” She dismissed this saying I was nowhere near ready to deliver and we parted, me with the “just in case” number to call should the baby decide it was time.
The “just in case” number was used just a few days later as I felt those familiar pains that were not a stomach ache over dinner at a restaurant. By midnight that night I was at the hospital and delivered Micah in the wee hours of the morning in Daytona Beach,Florida– just blocks from the famed Daytona Speedway.
He joined Annie, an almost three year-old and Joel, a 14 month old. For years we called them twins born 14 months apart and indeed they were inseparable.
As parents we were warned about middle children – that is was easy for them to lose their way, lost in the shuffle of a big family and struggling for their identity. I don’t know why, and I can only attribute it to the hand of God on his life, but that was never the case for Micah.
Born in the middle, he was never lost.
As a young child, he had a quiet confidence in who he was. When I went into labor with Jonathan a day before his 7th birthday, he looked at his father and I and said “If our baby is born, I won’t be able to have a birthday party!” We assured him that he would have a birthday party no matter what, and so sixteen years ago with Jonathan just hours old laying on my lap, eight little boys ran through our house in Cairo, playing games, going on a treasure hunt and eating their fill of ice cream and cake. I’ll never forget that birthday. My guess is that if it was up to me, I would have promised that we would be sure to celebrate his birthday as soon as we could but maybe not that day. My husband, who knows what it is like to be a middle-child, made sure that the expectations of a little boy were not lost in the chaos of labor, transition, breast-feeding beginnings and new-born wonder.
As his personality developed, so did his sense of humor and unique personality. At 12 he walked into the kitchen and said to me “Mom, Just so you know, I’m probably going to be the boy in this family that dates the most!” “Oh really?” I replied “Why’s that?” “Oh, I don’t know, I just have that feeling”, and off he went.
Micah had a strong sense of justice and clear view of right and wrong. He exercised that view fearlessly through middle school, unafraid of the opinions of others in this most cruel of ages, the slandering, insecure, gossiping breed that defines the developmental stage of those in grades six through eight.
When we moved to Phoenix in 2003, Micah saw this as a chance to grow and embrace a bigger school and more opportunities. And he did with determination and drive – he was the lead in almost every school play that was performed in a school of three thousand students; he excelled in speech and debate, writing his own pieces as a senior under a pseudonym so the real authorship could remain anonymous; he became president of National Honor Society and gave such a memorable speech that when he smashed our car into someone else’s later that week, instead of being angry they looked at him and said “Hey, you’re that kid that did that speech at National Honor Society! That was great!” They said it with complete admiration and their smashed car seemed to fade into the background.
As he celebrates his 23rd birthday today I am fully aware that he has been a gift, yet another picture of the sovereignty of God.