heartbreak & hope [an update on Gabriel]. 

This weekend, family and precious friends took it upon themselves to usher refreshment into my life in ways I frankly didn’t think were possible. They poured out love and joy and blessing of all kinds on me, easing my pain, participating in it through their acknowledgment of it. Because of them, I was able to divert my attention from the heartbreak of Friday’s appointments, if just for a moment, and my heart is still, in many ways, sustained by their kindness. Strengthened by them, we are ready to share the news we received less than 72 hours ago, though it somehow feels both like the blow was just dealt yet a year has passed simultaneously.

Gabriel’s genetic results show two mutations in gene AARS and one mutation of the MAP1B gene. The doctors think the AARS mutations are the likely causes of what his body is experiencing. He’s, in a way, still in an unknown, “league of his own” scenario. They think he has distal hereditary motor neuropathy type II of the AARS gene, which is a cousin of Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease. This is relatively newly discovered, and he’s an anomaly for the current definition, which states the age of onset is 6-54 years old. The condition could be progressive, or it could not. We don’t know. Even among multiple siblings in the same family, all of whom have CMT, in some it progresses and in others it doesn’t. We don’t know if this type will function like CMT or not, but they are considered “cousin” conditions.

In addition, we learned that both of the AARS mutations come from me, so I am at risk for later onset of the condition. I will need to undergo a nerve conduction study and EMG like they did for Gabe earlier this year. If I come back with abnormal findings, it will give us more evidence that this condition is what Gabe has. There is a chance that I could start to show symptoms someday…or not. We don’t know.

So, the next steps are the nerve tests for me, a genetic test for Owen to see if he has the mutations and continued serial casting for Gabe. He is crawling in his casts which is wonderful and lifts my soul above the fray on an hourly basis.

Gabe Casts - 11 monthsBefore Friday, our framework did not include the possibility of Gabriel having a potentially progressive condition. All of our definitions have imploded (again), expanding, though we beg them to stay stagnant. The answers only bring about more questions, questions with answers we aren’t sure we want to hear, with no promises of when they will be revealed, much less how.

The sharing and bearing of burdens I experienced this weekend tasted like the kingdom, with one critical difference. Someday, though I may struggle to believe it, we will no longer need to share our burdens. We will only, beautifully, eternally share our joys in the Healer, in the One whose bearing of burdens and participation in our pain extracts the presence and sting of our suffering entirely. I’m desperate for that day.

We are so thankful for each of you who pray for us, who love us in word and deed. Please pray for Gabriel’s healing. Please pray for strength of heart, perseverance, belief for all of us, whether the Lord chooses to remove this thorn or not. Please pray for us to steward this story of our son and our family well, to exalt the Lord higher and greater as life drives us lower and deeper. We are confused by Him, our categories are too small for Him, we behold Him as in a mirror, darkly, and say, “to Whom shall we go if not with You, Lord? We believe. Help our unbelief.”

We cling to the hope of the day where the darkness will be as light, the night shining like the day. And until that day comes, we grab hands with each of you who have offered them so graciously, so strong in their grip as ours tremble. You are His body, the Church, reminding us of His goodness when we don’t know what that word means anymore. You are showing us what it means, far beyond any written definition, and we will never be able to thank you enough.

Author: Abby Perry

Abby has written for The Gospel Coalition, Christ and Pop Culture, Upwrite Magazine, and The Influence Network. She is the communications coordinator for a nonprofit organization and co-facilitates two community efforts—one promoting bridge-building racial reconciliation conversations and one supporting area foster and adoptive families. Abby graduated from Texas A&M University and currently attends Dallas Theological Seminary. She and her family live in College Station, Texas.

6 thoughts on “heartbreak & hope [an update on Gabriel]. ”

  1. Grabbing hands with you…pressing in with you…can’t even get my mind around how you can express all of this in such a way as to do a work in me…

  2. heartbreaking, as you so poignantly already expressed to us. your faith is evident in the darkness and the pain. love you abby. you are so special.

  3. Always keep in mind, doctors are human . God is and will continue to be greater. Cyndi was my Evan’s first grade teacher. I have followed your story and prayed. When Evan was small, he was diagnosed with severe Autism. A huge team of doctors told us he would never be able to function normally, he had an 80% chance of being mentally challenged, and we should put him on a waiting list for respite care because the day would come when we could no longer care for him. Long story short, with lot’s of prayer, he now no longer carries a diagnosis and is in a PAP classes in Jr High. He struggled for sure, but is far more than any doctor ever gave us hope for. I always prayed that God would fulfill his purpose with Evan and that he would use him to help others. Don’t lose hope. God’s purpose for Gabe is greater than any plans from a doctor. I always told myself, God doesn’t create imperfection. Gave is and will always be absolutely perfect for whatever God’s plan is for him. Continued prayers for strength, hope, patience, and healing as you travel this journey. Much love and many prayers from your sister in Christ.

  4. Thank you for sharing your heart! In the midst of crushing disappointment, you are luminous! I am praying for continued beauty from ashes.
    Love you!

  5. Abby we may never know what tomorrow hold for Gabe, Owen, Jared or even your self. But, we know who holds tomorrow in the palm of his hand. Praying for peace, comfort and guidance for all involved.

  6. so very thankful to grab hands with you as He takes you deeper still… the gift is ours. we are seeing Him higher, and clearer than ever before. love you so.

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