Danny Boice's Prologue To Journey to Trust
You have reached the second part of our Journey to Trust book series in which my wife, Jen Mellon, shares how our life had been as a couple and as parents before we started Trustify. Feel free to read the first part if ever you missed it. Enjoy!
My fingers quake from exhaustion and nerves as I hold my phone, knowing there is no point to calling anymore. I think of what I would do for a friend in the same situation: “Leave,” I would tell them without hesitation. “Get out of there. No one should talk to you that way, treat you that way. Walk away.”
Yet just a week ago, Danny had been a surprising angel at my side as bolts of pain struck their way through my midsection, and the intensity of them washed out every thought. I had wrapped my arms around his neck as he held me steady, his hands finding their way to places that needed his touch. His rock-solid gaze had held mine as my knees buckled. There had been no words, no sights, no sounds, just high notes of pain and his presence to help soothe them.
I recall that under my black shirt and black and white striped skirt, my laboring belly had been distended, the skin pulled and stretched tight, feeling too thin for my body. This belly was not like the bellies that had held my two daughters. This baby had grown huge and was snapping my pelvis and crunching his way through my hips.
I remember that I put my hand over Danny’s knee and rode out the next contraction. I waited until my hindbrain was no longer screaming that I was about to die. I stared into Danny’s eyes and watched as he watched me. That close, I could see the tiny folds in the blue of his iris, the minute, liquid contraction of his pupils. I didn’t look away.
“I’m so in awe of you ” he said, lightly.
When I looked at Danny in that moment I could see the essential goodness within him. I didn’t see the man who barked questions like “What’s wrong with you?” or screamed at me to fuck off when I asked him if he was ok. I saw the man he was when he was not manic and reeling, when his eyes weren’t slit shut and his face wasn’t red from shouting.
On the morning of our son’s birth, Danny showed up, fully. Long before I was ready to admit that this baby was finally coming, he had called my mom, and the midwife, to come over. “They’ll be here any minute,” he said, and I wept with relief as his fingers brushed my face. He didn’t look away.
He wasn’t perfect, I had thought, but he was my choice.
Together we filled the small, plastic pool that sat next to our bed, snaking a hose from the bathroom. Danny ran his hand under the running water, testing the temperature. He held my elbow tenderly as I lowered myself in, letting the warm water flow over me and sluice away the sweat. He interlaced his fingers with mine.
“It’s time,” said the midwife kneeling by the pool. “Push.”
We would call the baby Daniel, we had decided, not after Danny but after the story in the Old Testament of a man thrown into the lion’s den who survives the night on the strength of his faith alone.
300 ticks of the clock later, through more pain than I had felt in my previous two pregnancies, there he was. All nine-and-a-half pounds and twenty-three inches of him. A big baby with a big mission. As I pulled him onto my chest as we lay in the warm water, I was aware that were it not for him, I would have walked away from all of this a long time ago. But birth and death are the moments when the veil that separates this world from next is thinnest, and some say that is when we are closest to God. I needed to be closer to something greater than myself and to be broken open physically, emotionally, and spiritually to find my truth—that Danny and I were right together and I could leave it in God’s hands.
He’s as happy as a clam at high tide, I had whispered to Danny as held the naked baby on his chest for the first time. High tide is when clams are free from the attentions of predators—surely the happiest and most secure of times in the mollusk world. I had felt that animal safety and joy, still naked and wet from the pool while Daniel made the watery, gurgling sounds all newborns make.
We dried Daniel off and tucked his dark curls under a blue-and-pink striped cap. Every inch of him was pink, his tiny fists clenching and unclenching, his unfocused eyes opening and squinting shut as he took in the first moments of being his own person. Everyone left the room to give us a moment and it was as silent as a sacrament. And it was as sacred as a sacrament too—I felt the glory of God’s grace wash over me, and knew in that moment that our family was blessed and held. Then and there I had made the choice to be all in, to surrender myself to God and our future. I was ready for us to be custodians for God’s greater plan.
In the photo we took with the birthing team my hair is wet and brushed back. I have Daniel in my arms and I’m leaning forward, all of us smiling wide. Beside me, Danny has his head thrown back in a laugh, his eyes closed with the force of it. This picture was supposed to be the one that got it right.
I squeeze my eyes against the tears and close the laptop, my arm lying heavy across it. Danny is my love and Daniel is our baby and my faith hasn’t gotten me this far to leave me now. I know something must be very wrong—he would never just not check in on me and the baby. I know about his drinking and the manic episodes and all the unsafe places he could end up; I know what can happen. The baby whimpers and I gather the strength to stand up. I know my love would have called if he were okay. I reach for baby Daniel and whisper in a hoarse, shaky voice, Danny Where are you?