Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Silver Lining

I last wrote about how the miracle that is my son had been finally dawning on me. I thought about that one a lot and I think I've come to an important truth: this is the only here and now we get. That could mean a lot of things to you depending on your story and where you're at in that story, but it's a blessing for me right now.

Elias, in the beginning of his journey, when life was at it's highest and lowest for me while I struggled to celebrate the birth of my son and mourn the loss of the healthy baby I thought I was giving birth to, was already a miracle. With every low, there was a high: "he has some birth defects, but we can work on them." "He's having surgery, but it's not nearly as extensive as we thought...we'll be done in 30 minutes." "He's not recovering properly, but we can equip you and send you home to care for him." And then as the "lows" became just regular life, suddenly there was healing and the "highs" started out-numbering the "lows": "you're right, he's urinating on his own now, you can stop catheterizing him." "He has healed perfectly and there shouldn't be further issues." And then we were only returning to the Children's Hospital once a year for check-ups and we stopped feeling like they should have given us a punch-card like the corner coffee shop does: with every nine visits, get the tenth for free (oh, if only!).

He was a miracle then. God was healing him and working in him then, and while I saw it, it was like watching a Christmas celebration from outside in the cold. The party is there; it's warm and inviting and worth smiling about, but you can't quite reach it. The pain of watching my baby hurt was still too raw and unexpected to celebrate the little victories. I missed them. Ten of them still weighed less than the one big elephant in my heart labeled UNJUST, UNHEALTHY, BETRAYAL, UNCERTAINTY...I couldn't see past that elephant most of the time. Some have elephants that are heavier, bigger, that last longer or hurt deeper. I listened to parents cry in the NICU a bed over from my son's who were not getting good news. Parents who had to hear that their baby would never fully recover. I remember that mother's face, her posture, her tears. I won't forget her. My heart hurt with her then and I still think about her now, but even in that journey I pray that as her "lows": the challenges that come with her son, become just another sound in the rhythm of what life looks like for them, that she'd rest in the little victories too. Let's make it clear: I don't pretend to believe that we all find the miracles we seek in this life. Part of this emotional journey for me these past weeks has been the overwhelming understanding that I have been, my son has been, one of the privileged.

As the cliche goes, everything is clearer in hindsight. On this side of the hurt I can say that I find myself searching desperately for the silver lining in my here-and-nows. For my sake, for my family's sake, for the sake of those still seeking their miracles. I'm trying to live in the ups, the highs, the joys as much as I can. I don't succeed every day. The days, the seasons, when the downs are easier to see than the ups can still be hard, but I think the ups are easier to find when you're looking--especially because in some stages of life, they're great at playing hard-to-get. So keep looking.

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