Emmanuel was born normally apart from a small pimple between his eyes. Frontonasal Encephalocele. That’s what they called it when it grew. The swollen part of him that his parents prayed would sink back into his skin, leaving his forehead smooth and flat. A plane for his mother to rest her palm upon.
The swell grew with Emmanuel. Ten years of growing. Bigger shoes and school uniforms and too much time spent in hospital beds. The swell grew into the first thing you want to know about when you look at Emmanuel’s picture. The first question you want to ask.
But, there are other things you should know. Important things.
I want to tell you that he loves trucks. He wants to drive them when he grows tall enough that his feet can reach the pedals.
I want to tell you that he was born into a family so big that he has to count his mother and his father and his siblings on both hands.
I want to tell you that, out of all of the possible words one could use to describe this ten-year-old boy, the staff at BethanyKids chose “cheeky.”
I want to tell you these things, because when a boy becomes a patient, the other questions slip away. Sickness becomes the first question. The only question.
The surgery would change that. It would turn the patient back into a boy. It would give him more questions to answer.
There’s not enough money, though. Never enough money.
So, Emmanuel’s parents pray. They pray for their child to grow tall enough that his feet can reach a truck’s pedals. They pray that the swell sinks back into his skin, leaving his forehead smooth and flat. A plane for his mother to rest her palm upon. They pray for a miracle.