I love Facebook. I love that I can keep in touch with friends and family in one place, no matter when or where I knew them first. I love seeing the snapshot of their worlds spinning by and sharing little snips of my own life with them, and seeing so many different people, personalities, and lifestyles intertwining. This weekend, that interplay assaulted my happy little world with alarming poignancy, and threw a sobering lesson about gratitude in my face.
A friend from college posted the news about her nine-month-old son having a severe brain injury. I still don't know what happened; it hardly seemed appropriate to ask. I scanned back through the posts, searching for explanations, but there are only little updates. He was gone - they brought him back. May not make it through the night. Still here...no change. The longer he is unconscious, the less it is likely that he will wake up. Prognosis isn't good; we're leaving him in God's hands. We won't pursue any further intervention. We've decided to let him go...his breathing tube will come out sometime Wednesday. I watched these updates trickle out slowly against the backdrop of other friends' weddings, sports events, news commentary, work news, pregnancy updates...their lives. Their lives continued on while another family's came to a screeching halt. The sameness of their days was dizzying next to the picture of lives that are forever different. Then came the photos.
My friend posted pictures of her sweet little boy, alone, with his Mama, his Daddy, all three together, and with his grandparents. They were beautiful. In those images was the peace of a little one in the arms of those who love him, and the aching shadow of farewell. As I held my own little one last night, snuggling him to sleep, I realized that I was holding him in just the same way as my friend was holding her son. But I had no reason to believe that my baby boy wouldn't wake this morning, reaching out to be cuddled in the morning quiet. I had no reason dread his leaving my arms, because I had no reason to think it would be the last time. I wept with an unutterable mixture of grief and gratitude. I've spent nights in the hospital with sick babies, anxiously watching their breathing, fixing my eyes on the blinking monitors above their heads...but I've never had reason to fear their lives. They have never been beyond 'routine' medical care. They've never been unconscious...only asleep. The magnitude of that blessing is blinding just now. Even the bickering and whining has a sweetness in it today. For all their 'problems,' my boys are healthy and normal. I think my friend would remind me to embrace that, because it could change in a heartbeat.
I write this on a Monday evening. Unless God chooses to reveal Himself in a miracle, in 48 hours or so my friend will have kissed her little boy's warm, downy forehead for the last time. I will hold her and her family in my prayers as they travel a painful road that I cannot even fathom. I will praise God for the blessings of six strong, bright, healthy sons, and I will hold them a little longer and a little tighter when I kiss them goodnight. For today, He has not called me to trust Him in the midst of agonizing loss. I pray that if ever He does, I will be prepared to be faithful. What else can I possibly do?