After days of observation and speculation, the time had come for the surgeons to take action. Holden's body revealed he had a perforated bowel and that infection was present.
Still mortified by the idea of our son back on the operating table, we were somewhat relieved that some action was being taken and that recovery may be on the horizon. We were told the surgery would take 2-3 hours. With what might have been 30 minutes gone by, Dr. Johnson comes through the waiting room door, removes the surgical cap from his head and tells his silent audience that "we have some difficult things to discuss."
He pulled up a chair and placed a small digital camera on the adjacent desk. Dr. Johnson related how he was dismayed to open Holden back up to find that his bowel had been overrun by a condition known as necrotizing enterocolitis. He had an estimated 15 cm of viable intestine remaining. The prognosis for an infant with short bowel syndrome coupled with the digestive complications predominant with cystic fibrosis was that life would not be sustainable.
I remember staring blankly across the room as the news was received. With so many prayers and fortifying fasts on Holden's behalf, we were feeling as though we didn't care what the doctors had to say. They could tell us he had no chance, but we were determined that our son was going to be healed and come home with us. It wasn't until the Spirit bore a clear and unquestionable witness confirming that Holden had another mission to fulfill that I accepted the agonizing truth. There aren't words that can express that grief. Unearthing those moments from the recesses of my mind causes my soul to ache.
From that moment on, my physical and emotional strength gave out. There was nothing left my will could offer my body to get it to function. Bishop and Sister Murdock came straight down to the hospital once the news was received and met us in the waiting room. Blessings of comfort were given and everyone in the room voiced their thoughts on the news. After all that had been said regarding God's will, Sister Murdock spoke up, "What about Holden's will? He has his agency too..." It was exactly what we needed to hear, and we knew it was true.
Heavenly Father mercifully came to our aid and His angels allowed us to take one impossible step at a time back to the elevator, through the hall, and into the NICU where our sweet Holden awaited the anesthesia to wear off.
A fourth blessing was given to Holden. I wanted so badly to say that he was going to be healed like I had felt prompted in the previous blessings, but the words could not be uttered. Instead he was commended for his bravery in being obedient and submissive to the Lord's will. I told him that his parents supported him in his decisions and in his use of his agency to fulfill Heavenly Father's grand designs. We barely pronounced our "amen"s when I dropped to the floor and began to sob in frustrated agony.
As we slipped into a maddening despair, Holden took on an even more radiant celestial glow.
"For reasons usually unknown, some people are born with physical limitations. Specific parts of the body may be abnormal. Regulatory systems may be out of balance. And all of our bodies are subject to disease and death. Nevertheless, the gift of a physical body is priceless. Without it, we cannot attain a fulness of joy.
"A perfect body is not required to achieve a divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail frames. Great spiritual strength is often developed by those with physical challenges precisely because they are challenged. Such individuals are entitled to all the blessings that God has in store for His faithful and obedient children.
"Eventually the time will come when each “spirit and … body shall be reunited again in … perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame.” Then, thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can become perfected in Him." -Russel M. Nelson