I was glad to have these two men, my dad and my husband, sitting with Noah as we prepared to surrender him to the surgeons. My hands wanted to hold on tight to the little boy with his impish grin and quiet humor. There is never enough time to love as we wish, parent as we desire, and savor one another as long as we want. When time together is threatened this is never more clear. What if this was it? If this embrace was our last, this gaze the final note? My hand ran over his head again and I drew him close, it was too painful to imagine losing this son.
We loaded Noah into the wagon, it was a child-friendly way to escort him to open-heart surgery. “Mommy?” he looked questioningly back at me. Why aren’t you coming with me? Worry was in his face and I was glad to have Darryl bend over reassuringly and give him one last hug, “You’ll be alright, Noah. Mom and Dad are going to be right here waiting for you.” As he stood up I could see he was consoling himself too. The wagon resumed rolling down the ramp into the gray room filled with figures clothed in green, masked and hair-covered, with kind eyes peering out. We reached the red line and had to stop and turn back. It felt so wrong but we knew it was right. Our feet stopped but our hearts kept pace with prayer.
It’s a strange place to be in. Sitting idly in a waiting room while your son lies still on the operating table, his very body and life on such fragile ground. My parents sat with us and Calvin comforted all of us with his soft body and cheeks that always receive love. I felt jittery, staring at the TV and yet not seeing anything. There are times when the soul feels like it’s exhausted the word bank and all that’s left is wordless pleas to the advocate we have with the Father, Jesus Christ.
Along with the pleas I had plenty of time to get reacquainted with that sidekick, fear. I’ve learned to know Fear–I know how it tastes and how it makes my stomach knot and how it weakens me at the knees. I wish I didn’t ever feel fear, I wish it wasn’t such a tangible part of my life. In this broken world I think it’s okay to feel fear. Sin and its consequences are scary. Loss is heart-breaking. The ripping apart of life and all it’s supposed to be leaves us with our eyes open to all that’s wrong with this world and it does make us quake. I can’t always overcome fear but there is One who I can leave my fear with.
This same fear that makes me tremble also puts wind in my sails. It makes me fly to the Lord Jesus quickly, resets the universe, makes me realize the punity of self, the greatness of God, the pettiness of much of my life. Can’t you see how He turns fear into His own purposes? He uses it to re-align me with His purposes. Fear can be one of the greatest means to awaken us to what really is. It jolts us from the facade of the monotony of life and doing the daily thing just because that’s all we really want to see.
So the waiting room was good for me. The fear was unsettling but good for me. And this time it pleased the Lord to surprise us with tender mercies. Once again I ran my fingers through the little four-year-old’s blonde hair, this time in the PICU. The ventilator whooshed quietly and his eyelids lay closed but the heart was beating. Fear pulled back the curtain to reveal the preciousness of Noah’s life, the weightiness of nurturing a soul, and just how glad I was to be a mom one more day to this boy.