Around mid-April, as the warm air moves in and the trees begin to bloom, I can feel it coming. The calendar pushes forward and I sense a heaviness in my heart that sinks deep down into the pit of my stomach. I attempt to push it away -- because what good is there in grieving a day that ultimately has a happy ending? -- but, thankfully, my attempts are futile. No matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise, some days are just going to be harder than others, and that's okay. For our family, April 22 is one of those days.
For the first time since 2009, this date has fallen on a Wednesday and I think about what that Wednesday morning looked like for us: Ethan was six weeks old and had not yet left the hospital, Jeramie was back to work while Ethan and I snuggled and played, home was just days away. Later that afternoon, Ethan woke up from a nap and it was obvious something wasn't right; tests were run, prayers were prayed, fears were calmed. Then, later that night: alarms blaring, nurses running; Ethan's blue and white gown thrown haphazardly across the room, yelling, syringes, CPR.
Over the course of eleven long minutes that Wednesday night, the Lord breathed new life into Ethan's body through the nurses and doctors who manually pumped his heart and expanded his lungs. I can live to be one hundred and five years old, and I'm certain the memories of that day will never fade.
But. Compare that scene to this Wednesday -- today: Ethan is six years old, Jeramie is at work while Ethan and I snuggle before school, I wash and fold his t-ball jersey for his game this weekend. He was diagnosed with the flu on Monday, but he's back to school just two days later. He's the healthiest, strongest, and funniest he's ever been.
So much grief.
So much grace.
At times I've tried to reconcile the grief of almost losing Ethan with the grace of getting to keep him, but it's not possible -- and I've learned that I don't really want to. The tension between the grief and the grace is the place where my faith grows. It's where I continually put my trust back into a good and gracious God and remind myself that Ethan is his more than he's mine.
When it comes to the hard days, I remember, but don't dwell. I grieve, but not without hope. I let the grief push me towards compassion, the grace towards humility. I thank Jesus for the new life he offers, the mercy he shows, and the grace he extends.
Because Lord knows, without him, days like today would be a whole lot harder.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
-2 Corinthians 1:3-4