Last Sunday Elias came out of Children’s Church with a tombstone. It was supposed to be a replica of the stone that covered Jesus’ tomb, and on the stone the children were supposed to write what they were thankful for this Easter.
My heart nearly skipped a beat when I saw what Elias had written:
“Getting through two seizures in one day”
Where is the innocent thankfulness for chocolate eggs?
To add to my shock, Elias added a drawing after the incomplete sentence – a smiley face, a circle that he had colored in which looked like an exaggerated dot or period, and then another smiley face.
Someday I will explain to him how amazingly accurate his picture story was…It was a beautiful Tuesday in June four years ago – a friend took some amazing photographs of Elias smiling and playing in the open fields at Cedar Campus. By Wednesday, Elias had literally gone dark – just like the circle he had colored in – clinging to life, intubated, on a ventilator with nothing for us to do but pray and cry. Two hospitals, a team of doctors and specialists, a battery of tests and we still had no answers. There was nothing to do but wait. By Thursday morning, Elias was back to smiling though still regaining his fine and gross motor skills.
It was nothing short of a miracle. And for that miracle we are thankful.
Smiley face. Dark circle. Smiley face.
For some reason, the pattern makes me think of Good Friday. Holy Saturday. Resurrection Sunday.
I can smile on Good Friday because I know how the story ends, just like I can smile now because I know how that week in June ended for Elias. I know that in the midst of Christ’s suffering there remains the shadow of hope that grows and groans.
But as we wait to celebrate Easter, there is the dot – a pause button, if you will, filled and empty with silence, stillness, grief, waiting, and certainty because once again we know how the story ends, just like there was certainty for me in the hospital and the life flight to Ann Arbor and in the PICU even if in that moment we didn’t know how the short-term would end. Certainly God was with me and with Elias and with Peter and our other two children and our friend Andrea and her two children who traveled with Peter while I flew with Elias. I was and remain certain of it. Certainly God is in the silence and in the in between.
And I smile this morning having been greeted by Elias’ smile and signature, “Oh, Mom!” He doesn’t remember the seizures or the emergency medical flight to Ann Arbor. He doesn’t remember the spinal tap, the multiple scans of his brain and body. He doesn’t remember so much because his life had momentarily gone dark, just like that circle he had colored in. He remembers to be thankful and he really lives life like a celebration.
This Easter I have been reminded by my youngest child to be thankful for the smiles and everything in between. Even the circles that have been colored in with darkness because I am certain.
He is risen. Indeed.