5.25.2020

So, I've regularly watched this video for almost 15 years and I still cry... every single time.

About 15 years ago I recall hearing about the father/son team that was running marathons and taking part in triathlons that called themselves;  Team Hoyt.  It's a father (Dick) and his wheelchair bound son, Rick.

As a child Rick had the umbilical cord around his neck during birth and it cut off his oxygen, giving him brain damage.  Doctors and specialists at the time told the family to put him in an institution and go on with their lives.  But they couldn't imagine doing so and raised Rick along with their other two boys as just another part of the family.  They realized he was smart, he could hear, and with help from his brothers, worked out a system to talk.

There is a much longer story but most of my readers already know the story because these guys have been making news since their first run in... 1984 I think(?).

15 years ago I had watched their story and I think it was 2007 or so that I saw a video of their story put to music.  It was Mercy Me - I Can Only Imagine.  This video was hugely powerful for me and I recalled sitting in our family room, on the computer, with tears rolling down my face as I watched and listened.

Since then I've watched this video at least once a year, and do you know, I still cry every single time.

To understand a little bit of the power behind the song and why it brings me to tears is when I see the video of Rick as a child and in a wheelchair, it hits home to me as I have family members who have lived their lives in wheelchairs due to Muscular Dystrophy.  In him, I see them.

As a kid, I assumed everyone had handicapped members in their extended families.  Everyone had wheelchairs and walkers in their households.  Everyone had relatives with skinny legs, that couldn't walk, or couldn't stand, and needed  to be carried to the bathroom, put into bed or placed into cars.

I thought everyone knew how to listen and understand the words and butchered sentences of people trying to talk with poor muscle strength, choking on their own spit and trying to form sounds and letters from weak vocal muscles.  I found it strange to watch 'new' adults and people struggle to understand what my relatives were saying when I could understand them just fine.

In other words, growing up with people with various degrees of a handicap was completely normal to me.

Rick to me is my uncle, my Aunt and my other Aunt.  Who all lived with us for stretches of time growing up as if they were an older sister or brother.

As their diseases progressed and their bodies turned in on themselves, their muscles atrophying, I look at Rick's hands and fingers, his smile, his face, his legs... and it looks 'normal' to me as I see my family members in him.

And then the music. The lyrics.

"I Can Only Imagine"

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk by Your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When Your face is before me
I can only imagine, yeah

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You, Jesus
Or in awe of You be still?

Will I stand in Your presence
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?

I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine when that day comes
And I find myself standing in the sun/son
I can only imagine when all I will do
Is forever—forever worship You

I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You, Jesus
Or in awe of You be still?

Will I stand in Your presence
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?

I can only imagine, yeah
I can only imagine

To add yet another level of emotion to this song and video...  I posted about how one of my Aunts recently passed away. Her physical body and her soul separated and although death came to her here on earth, her spirit soars.

It's the first time in 30 years she won't be in a wheelchair.

And I have to think of the words to the song....

"I can only imagine....."    when she is before the Lord, will she stand?  Will she dance?  Will she speak?

With my Aunt's recent passing on my mind, my Uncle struggling to stay positive during the COVID-19 quarantines and being utterly alone in his apartment, trapped in his wheelchair with only caregivers coming twice a day to change him and care for his feeding tube;  these images of them in my mind mixing with the images of Rick in the video;  and one of my all time favorite songs...

Well, yes, tears rolled again this morning.  Happy, emotional, moving tears.


Here is a copy of the video I first watched about 15 years ago or so....




And if you are interested in more of their story, here is a pretty good condensed version from "It's a Miracle"