Asher’s Story

April 25, 2019

Chapter 1: The Early Years

We had been wanting a baby for quite some time, and then when we least expected it, there you were growing inside me, poised to make your debut on dad’s oral doctrinal defense day. We were already planning a move that summer. We just didn’t know exactly where dad’s continuing Biblical studies might take us. It was Spring 2007. Aunt Erica threw me the best baby shower ever, rejoicing with us in our joy even as we wept with her in her loss. They had endured two back-to back late term miscarriages during my pregnancy with you.

On the night of your shower, we heard that dad had been accepted into the doctoral program at TEDS in Deerfield, Illinois. So to the great excitement of growing our family, we added the good news of God’s clear direction for our future.

There was much to do! We needed to have a baby. We needed to fix up our house and get it on the market. We needed to find a new place to live. We needed Dad to clear a few final hurdles before officially earning his MDiv—hurdles like the previously-mentioned oral doctrinal defense.

To avoid going into labor during that defense, we arranged an induction two days prior. You surprised everyone when you arrived just hours after the initial phases of the induction. I was supposed to be sleeping soundly through the night in preparation for labor the following day, but waiting has never been your thing and so after creating absolute chaos in the dead of night at Southshore hospital in Trenton, Michigan, you came screaming into the world at 2:51 am on April 25, 2007. And when I say screaming, I think you know what I mean 😉 You were all of 7.5 lbs and 20.5 inches long, with—as you know—an adult-sized head.

And oh, how we loved you! We had loved you when you were just a prayer and a dream. And we had loved you when you were somersaults and hiccoughs and elbow jabs and rib-kicks.  But when we saw you and held you, we knew we would love you until our dying breaths. We named you Asher Hayes Compton. Asher for the first word of the Psalter (blessed or happy) because we were truly happy to welcome you—our firstborn—into the family. Also, because out of all the hopes and dreams stored up in our hearts for you, this one was (and is) primary—that you too will know the truly happy life of one who delights in God’s words. (Psalm 1)

Hayes is a family name, passed down to you from Robert Hayes Compton—your paternal great-grandfather. He died before we celebrated your first birthday, but he passed onto you the legacy of the steadfast love of the Lord which endures forever. God loved your great grandfather just as he has loved your papa, your dad and now you. He’s faithful like that, showing love and mercy to a thousand generations. We hope that your name—the thing first stamped on our birth certificates and the last thing engraved on our tombstones—will serve as a lifelong reminder to you of the steadfast love of the Lord and of his great faithfulness to those who love him. Far more enduring than our human parental love, God’s love and faithfulness reaches even beyond the grave. (Psalm 103)

In all our excitement the day after you were born, I barely heard the nurse say, “you’ve been running a low grade fever since delivery” as we were leaving the hospital. We were onto more urgent matters.

First: graduation. Uncle Joel was graduating with his ThM and daddy with his MDiv, So Grandma, Aunt Shelley and I threw a party. Gigi, Uncle Joe, Uncle Gordon and Aunt Cindy came for the big day as did my parents and your Uncle David, Aunt Tara and a very young Logan.

After graduating and partying, our families settled into helping us fix up the house to get in on the market. We even planted a tree in your honor. At last the house was listed. People came; people went. But recession had struck and no one was willing to pay our asking price.

I remember bustling around, cleaning up the house, packing you up to vacate the place at a moment’s notice in hopes that this next showing would yield a buyer. You were my sidekick. And you were pretty happy. But that screaming we heard at birth was no anomaly. You had strong opinions and clear expectations. I remember watching you cry once wondering how such a such a tiny person whose every need was met within minutes could feel so deeply the futility of the human existence. You still feel it, don’t you?

Those were busy days, and I wasn’t feeling well, but I assumed it was all part and parcel of having just had a baby and planning a move. But I wasn’t getting better. I skipped the Mother’s Day baby dedication service at church to the disappointment of the family. But I just couldn’t go. I suddenly remembered the low-grade fever the nurse had told me about and I took my temp. I was definitely sick. I visited the doctor who identified a long term UTI, sent me home with antibiotics and told me to come back in a week. Nothing changed. I went back and they gave me a stronger antibiotic. Again, no change. One week later when intense stomach pain hit, dad raced me to the ER where I had the foresight to throw up all over the place just outside the ER door where I got immediate attention from the triage nurse. Within moments I was on some lovely painkillers and oxygen in a private room.

I was admitted and hospitalized in the kidney floor of the hospital for four nights and five days where they administered heavy duty IV antibiotics to kill off the bacterial infection that was raging through my body. They ran a battery of tests and imaging but without any clear results. They finally settled on “kidney infection.” The doctors would not permit you to come to my room, so once a day I’d be able to walk down to a waiting area where dad would bring you so I could hold you.

Your dad had a special bond with you immediately, Boo. And he took such good care of you those few days when I was absolutely sidelined. And he loved it. He was more than up to the task of fathering. They say (who ever “they” are) that dads often take more time to bond with their children than mothers, but your dad wanted to be a part of everything from the beginning. We’d argue about the rights to bathe you, push your stroller, or even wear you in the snugly, so when I got sick and was hospitalized, he was more than up to the task of caring for you. He’d wake with you through the night, keeping vigil by your bassinet.

After being discharged from the hospital, I was amazed at how good I felt. I had been growing increasingly sick from the infection for at least 6 weeks and had forgotten what good health felt like. And I sure needed it. We’d lost a lot of time. We packed up all our earthly goods and spent the night with the Owens. Newborn that you were, you got more sleep than I did that last night in Allen Park. Aunt Erica and I stayed up the entire night talking. Dad and Uncle Matt could never understand how after all the hours we had spent together through the long years of the MDiv we could still have so much to say.

12 years later—as you well know—we can still marathon talk, whether over voxer or side by side on a hot August night by the pool in Orange Park.

Aunt Erica holding you in the hospital after your birth

Then we were off. We moved into an apartment on campus at Trinity. Our house never did sell, but God provided renters at just the right time.

Grandma Rodman rocking you in all the chaos of the move

Those were such good years. I’ve written about them in other places. We welcomed Jude into our lives during those years. We celebrated your first, second, and third birthdays during the TEDS years. We made dear, dear friends—your very first friends. It hurts my heart just a little to look back at these sweet faces knowing that chapter of our life is over and the pages long since turned.

Your first birthday party. Not pictured: Nasellis, Rogers or Miss Jill.

But you thrived during those TEDS years. We all did. You were full of spirit, and the best belly laugh I’ve ever heard in a baby. You still could be undone in a moment’s notice when your expectations were thwarted, or if we asked you to be patient and wait. But your personality and wiring were slowly revealing themselves to our great delight. We treasure those early years with you.

See what I mean?
Sorry, I can’t help myself!

You kids so often ask to hear your stories. It’s fun to look back and to remember, isn’t it?  I hope you will read this and know how much we love you—how much we have always loved you—and how committed we are to loving you as long as we live. But even more, I hope you see in our love a faint reflection of one whose love goes deeper and lasts longer. His love cannot even be broken by death. This is the best part of your story, Asher. From birth, you have not ceased to hear about the steadfast love of the Lord. It is so healing to be loved—truly known and loved. Our prayer has been and continues to be for you to know the healing and enduring nature of God’s love. Happy 12th birthday, Asher Hayes!

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  • Conni Devore April 25, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Another winner! How I love these letters t your children. Thank you so much for sharing your life and your children. What a blessing you are to all who read!