“Brick & Stone”
Perry P. Perkins
Sassee Magazine, July 2009
Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolutions, 2010
When I was a boy, my mother had a small plaque that hung in the kitchen of our tiny apartment.
It read: A house is made of brick and stone, but a home is made of love alone.
My wife and I had planned on being the typical American couple. We’d get married; work for a couple of years (to earn some stability and get to know one another), and then start our family. We had seen our friends follow this same agenda, and it seemed simple enough.
We learned it was not always so simple…
Years of self-doubt, frustration and bittersweet smiles as we held the new-born babies of our closest friends, all the while agonizing over the empty place in our own home and hearts, the frustration of not being able to give each other the baby we wanted so badly, while longing to be the parents that we KNEW God had made us to be.
Finally, after a decade of trying and reaching the ripe-old age of thirty-eight, we realized that having a baby just wasn’t going to happen the “old-fashioned way.”
So, we sought help.
Only to find that “help” is expensive…help is very expensive.
The process of IVF (in-vitro fertilization) and a subsequent pregnancy and birth would cost tens of thousands of dollars. We had three hundred dollars in the bank.
It was a long night at the dinner table. There was anger, and there were tears. How could God put such a burning desire, such a lifelong goal to be parents in our hearts, and then make it impossible to achieve?
We didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars…we didn’t have one thousand dollars…but we did have our house.
Years of scrimping and saving, driving clunker cars and brown-bagging lunches had allowed us to pay off our school debts and save just enough for a down payment on a beautiful little three-bedroom, two-bath house on the outskirts of town.
Vickie and I both worked full time, living in tiny apartments in bad neighborhoods to save money, crunching numbers until they squeaked and jumping though every hoop imaginable for ten years to buy that house. It wasn’t much, but it was ours. For a kid who’d never lived anywhere but apartment complexes, it was everything – a place to have friends over, to plant our own flowers, and to paint the walls whatever shade of purple we pleased…a place of our own. It had been like a dream come true when, three years before, we’d signed papers and moved in, and now it was being made clear to us…
We could have our baby…if we gave up our home.
The market was ripe, and our agent assured us that we could get our asking price, which would leave us just enough to pay off our few remaining debts, complete the IVF process and find a small apartment near our jobs.
We talked. We argued. We cried.
Finally, we prayed.
That’s when we realized that everything we had scrimped and saved and sacrificed for had been leading to this moment. We weren’t being forced out of our home; we were being given an opportunity to have the child we’d always wanted…
…and all we had to trade for our miracle baby was this block of brick and stone.
People all over the world suffered through childless lives, and we had been given a blank check. A check with three bedrooms, two baths and a garage…
…all we had to do was sign it.
And we did.
More sacrifices were made, possessions were sold, and more tears were shed when we stood in the living room of yet another, tiny two-bedroom apartment. Then the innumerable trips to the doctor, the embarrassing medical tests, the extremely candid conversations with nurses, and the seemingly-unending “are we” or “aren’t we” months of limbo, hope and heart-break.
It’s been three years since we sold our dream house, and our daughter Grace just turned one. Nothing about her addition to our family was easy, not her conception, her birth or her first weeks at home, but she has brought light to our lives that no windows could and colors to our world that no flowers can ever match…she is truly our miracle baby.
We’re saving again for a house, and we’ve moved to a larger apartment, where I work part-time from home and take care of our daughter. Sometimes we talk fondly about our dream house and the memories are bittersweet.
Then baby Grace smiles and laughs and hugs our necks, and we remember that it was just a house, brick and stone, and that this is our home…these aging rented walls, because they have been made of love.