I’ve Been Upside-Down

Before Max was born, I prayed for God to change it. To cure him. To take us from this path, and place us on a new one. To save my baby boy. I was so afraid of Him not answering, that I could never say it aloud, but hoped He’d hear me anyway. My heart would cry out at my darkest hours, saying words my lips never could; a small sliver of hope like the sun peeking out over an overcast sky, just for a moment, a fleeting second, before it plunged behind the clouds again into darkness.

Emotional and spiritual growth have always gone hand in hand for me. You endure something devastating, you fall to your knees in surrender, and you realize, on a startling breath, not only your physical mortality, but also your emotional mortality. You realize that you can, most certainly, be broken from the inside out, and there will never be a time when you are truly invincible.

These are the things in your life that are sometimes much too frightening to analyze. So we go on, day by day, pretending they are not there. Acting as though those things don’t need to be thought about, worked through. It’s easier that way, functioning on autopilot, because anything else feels like you’re trying to nurture a garden of strength in your chest that doesn’t exist, anything else feels like you’re physically trying to will the earth to stop spinning on its axis, anything else feels utterly impossible.

With these thoughts swirling through my head, these hopes, that at times, I’ve been afraid to voice, these hills and valleys of my faith, these days and nights of my life, my heart still breaks on this prayer. The inconsistency of it in the medical field, but the rightness that miracles have in my faith, breaks down both my logic and my prayers. Sometimes, at times like this, I have no idea which way is up. I don’t know if I’ll ever break through the surface once the grief comes in like a storm, and threatens to drown me in its downpours. So, I tuck my head into my chest, and my breath catches on a sob. Does He hear me if I never say the words aloud? Just then, as the thought drifts through my mind, thunder rumbles His name across the skies. Sparking a memory, from so long ago, before so much happened…

My head buried in my husband’s chest, tears streaming relentlessly down my ravaged face, my words muffled by way of bone, muscle, and sobs, “Why, Cody? Why did He choose him? Why our baby boy? Why??” For the moment, he didn’t have an answer. Face tucked into my hair, arms wrapped around my middle, hands resting on our child still layered in my womb, he shook his head. I felt his tears, though, hot and wet, as they seeped through the masses of my curls, searing the skin on my scalp, confirming he felt every ounce of agony that was ripping its way through my chest.

“I don’t know,” he said, “but we are not alone in this, Lauren.” I looked up into his eyes, shadowed by the darkness of the room, as he continued, “He chose Max. He chose us. He will never leave or forsake us.” Keeping my gaze, he took hold of my hand, his grip firm and sure, saying on his next shuddering breath, “Dear Jesus, You are the light of the world. You will show us the way to go, and we will never be alone in the dark. Amen.”

I tore my eyes away, tears flowing fast and heavy, sobs wracking my chest. I burrowed my way back into the safety of his chest. “I’m afraid,” my voice so soft and broken, I wasn’t even sure he heard me. But then,

“I am, too.”

Three words, and then thunder ground itself out from the clouds. A slow and deep resonating sound, bellowing out from the heavens. And those three words, that previously had no attachment of reassurance, no confirmation that him, nor I, nor Max would make it through unscathed, no promises of miracles, became my lifeline. Just those three small words, echoed by thunder. I didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t know if God was underlining His hand in this, if He was saying He was right there with us, if He was telling us He knew what He was doing. I just didn’t know.

But now, every night before I go to sleep, and whenever I don’t know how convince my lips to shape the prayers I need to say, whenever I can’t bear to bring to life what lies within my heart, I pray the prayer my husband taught me. Face lifted towards the heavens, into the darkness of my room, I whisper, “Dear Jesus, You are the light of the world. You will show me the way to go, and I will never be alone in the dark. Amen,” and I know that God will hear me. I know that He hears me.

We didn’t get the miracle that was never promised to us. Max wasn’t cured. He lives everyday with a lifelong condition. But he was saved. He was spared. He lives with a lifelong condition, but he lives. We have witnessed him endure traumas that are made from any parent’s worst nightmare, but he is happy… He is happy. And we know for certain, by that fact alone, that we have been given our own little miracle. Because everything he goes through, brings to life another flower in the garden of strength we tend in our chest. It doesn’t grow there on its own; we will it into existence. We decide everyday that this will not break us. We decide everyday that this will, instead, be the reason for which we live. We decide everyday that we will create the good in it. Because life doesn’t promise miracles, but you can promise yourself that no matter what type of tragedy befalls you or your loved ones, you will decide on hope, you will decide on happiness.

Because I’ve been upside-down with grief. But if there’s a right way to life, I don’t want it. Because in any other instance, in any other scenario of my life, we wouldn’t have him in all of his perfect imperfection. And given the chance, right now, and every waking moment to come, I choose this. I would walk this life over and over again. I would choose this life with him in it, just as he is. Because all the things that used to break my heart, now make me smile. I’ve overcome some of our obstacles. I have stacked some of our hardships in boxes behind me. And I would gladly take them on again, because I know the joy and peace that’s only waiting for me to step forward and grab it, just on the other side.

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