We Have Set Our Hope

Friday, September 25, 2009 11:27 AM, CDT

“I want to start out by saying that you all mean so much to us.  We are overwhelmed by Henry’s situation; we are also overwhelmed by the love and support of our friends, family, church and community: your thoughts, prayers, flowers, cards, dog-walkings, meals, vigils, and the list goes on.  Thank you.

I want to be honest about how devastated we are: for now we feel more hopelessness than hope, and my own faith wavers.   But Jen has already used the analogy of darkness and light — that when it’s dark enough, even small lights can be seen.  There is grace here.”

And so begins the page at CaringBridge for our grandson, Henry Dillon First, written by his father and our son, Nathan. If you’re a long-term reader of Fragments, you know Nathan from his walk home from Maine since I have told some of those stories over the years.

You may join to follow Henry’s story; there is some solace in just knowing we are not alone.

We have come to Missouri knowing the helplessness we would feel but also knowing we must be where Henry and his parents struggle against such horribly unexpected and seemingly overwhelming challenges.

He is a beautiful baby. This makes dealing with his struggles all the more difficult.

I don’t know how little or how much to share, nor do I yet know the lessons or the growth that will come from this most tragic event in our family story. The burden on all of us is almost too much to bear. I have been proud of the courage and strength here. Our daughter drove alone from South Dakota to be here and has been a rock of a big sister. We have held together and will be here for Henry, his mom and dad and each other.

Liberties with 2 Corinthians 1…

8We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in (Missouri). We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I’m so sorry to hear this Fred – it sounds really bad, whatever it is. Henry, and all the First’s, will be in our thoughts.

  2. Don’t comment much, but felt compelled to do so now to let you know there’s one more “voice” in the universe sending positive thoughts out.

  3. Our hearts are heavy for you, Henry, and his mom and Dad. We pray God will sustain and uphold each of you. We send our love and care. Sue & Con

  4. Fred — Hoping you all have had a safe trip home. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I know all of your readers are pulling for little Henry.

  5. Fred,
    People in Danville, VA, are now praying for Henry and you and all of your family. I’ve alerted several friends, and they will probably tell others who know you and Ann from your Wednesday Club visit. So sad, and sorry–but hoping for better news … Lin

  6. Thanks, all, 8 pm EDT and we are storm refugees, terrible rains forced us off I-64 and we’ll have more miles tomorrow than we’d planned. I feel guilty leaving the family crisis mile by mile behind–geographically–though of course it will be as close as our skin for some while. Thanks for you kindness, I may find the courage and strength to write my way through this ordeal as I’ve done so many other vastly more trivial travails in years past on Fragments. It’s comforting to have you all with me, truly, and thanks again.

  7. This is so awful to read. I hope Henry pulls through; babies do have a way of recovering from things better than we’d think possible. I’ll keep him in my thoughts.

  8. Dear First family,

    What anguish I know you are feeling. There are no words, really, but know that we are lifting Henry and you all up in prayers. Thank you for sharing from what must be life’s hardest journey.

    praying for a miracle,

  9. I’m so sorry, Fred. Please know that you and all your family are in my thoughts and prayers, Henry especially. He sounds like a fighter, as is his granddad. I hope it brings solace to know that so many people near and far are hoping and praying for his recovery.

  10. so sorry to hear this grave news. you are all in our thoughts and prayers, my father always said ” Where theres life, theres hope ” and I truly believe this. take care. millie. [ Paulines Mom ]

  11. Dear Fred and Ann,
    We hope that by now October 5 there is a bit brighter news. We loved seeing the family together with Jen’s first contact with Henry. He is so content to be there on her chest. I have seen babies recover in amazing ways. He will be a special guy that is for sure. I continue to pray for healing and strength for all the family. Love, Margie