Two Memphians once only familiar with each other by six degrees of separation are now bonded for life, through a life. They each arrived at a place of complete surrender by publicly facing private fears and it is through that surrender that they will give to our world one of mankind’s greatest gifts.
Shelby Ramsey always knew she wanted to have more than one child. After giving birth to her son she experienced a series of medical complications that led her and her husband to try various alternative routes to another full-term pregnancy- none of which materialized. Though behind closed doors their hearts were breaking, each day they pushed through walls of pain to continue being of service to others- she as a teacher and he as a pilot. At one point along their journey Shelby made the decision to share via social media what had transpired in their lives. She posted one August morning:
“It is with heavy heart, but a sense of peace…my journey to carry another child has come to a close; however, our journey to add to our family has just begun.”
By that afternoon Casey Tidwell had seen her post, through friends of friends of family members, and felt instantly, instinctively, she would be part of that journey.
Casey always knew she wanted to help another experience the beauty of having a child, in the same way she had been blessed with four sons of her own. As a young girl she had seen the heartache one of her family members endured when she faced infertility and wished it didn’t have to be so. As an adult she acknowledged that if she had any gifts to offer, she unquestionably would. Through life experiences and rather inexplicable certitude, Casey realized that her gift was that of surrogacy. But it was not until an August day this year when all things which needed to perfectly align, did.
Shelby exposed her vulnerability by sharing the sacred musings of her heart for all to see. Casey got a crash course on the fragility of life when her father was diagnosed with cancer and given very little chance of survival (he proved them wrong and is still here fighting the good fight!) Two strangers, each trying to reconcile broken dreams with believing hearts, became friends when they set aside their fears and accepted the assignment given to them for such a time as this. Casey explained, “I knew it was a calling. I knew I had to do it, I did it, then asked myself ‘what have I done?’” She pauses, smiles and says, “It was a huge leap of faith and it (the journey) has been amazing ever since.”
Millions around the world are joyfully anticipating the day of celebration for the greatest Gift they, and I, have ever been given- the birth of Christ. It is the celebration of a gift freely given to those who neither expected nor foresaw the life-altering splendor brought about because of it. One of my favorite Christmas songs asks, and declares “Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.” Shelby, Casey, I do not know if this baby is a boy or a girl. But I do know that because of your bravery, selflessness and love for friends and strangers alike, our world will be gifted with a life that I suspect will bless you in countless ways and in many ways make you new. I don’t believe there is any greater gift for which we could have asked this holiday season.
Merry Christmas to you both and Merry Christmas, Memphis!