Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One Small Second

Dear Luke,

Dad and I love to watch the Olympics. Winter Olympics, Summer Olympics, doesn't matter. We love them both. It is the only time we keep the TV on all day. We don't care if an American is in the particular event, we cheer for everyone.

During the last Summer Olympics, Dad and I were glued to the swimming events. We were on pins and needles wondering if Michael Phelps would win all of his events. Never before had either of us really cared much about swimming, but suddenly nothing else seemed so important. Oh, how we wanted him to win! I remember one race where he won by only one-hundredth of a second. Can you believe that?! One-hundredth of a second! Faster than you can blink. But that was all the time needed to make him the winner of the gold. That's all the time needed for the next guy to completely lose all dreams of a gold and take home silver instead. Not a bad place to be - second - but when you are that close to gold, it must really be a slap in the face to carry around that silver medal. While half of me was celebrating with Michael Phelps, the other half of me ached for the other man.

Life is like this in so many other scenarios. I went to a NICU fundraiser this last weekend. I will write more about that later, but today I want to focus in on the "miracles" the NICU boasts. I was not in the room when they spot-lighted an adorable set of twins. They truly are miracles. But I couldn't bare to hear it. They were born at the same gestation as you, Luke, but were even tinier. They had to endure a long NICU stay and many illnesses, but they made it all the same. And now, 2 years later, they are walking around with big smiles on their faces.

Isn't it interesting (or sad or frustrating or maddening) that two similar situations could end up so differently. Here are two mothers, giving birth to 24 weekers, and while one now holds her children in her arms and chases them around a roomful of people singing their praises and adoring every breath they take, the other mother sits at the grave of her son who never even got the chance to breathe, wondering how everything could have gone so terribly wrong.

One small second is all it takes for one man to take home a gold medal and another to leave empty-handed. One small second is all it takes for one mother to receive a miracle and another to receive a small box to keep her deceased son's memories in.

While reading the Bible the other day I came across this parable in Luke 16:19-25. To paraphrase, there are two men - one a rich man with anything he could desire, and Lazarus, a poor beggar. "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom" (doesn't that sound wonderful!). The rich man dies as well and sees Lazarus being cared for and loved. He asks for Lazarus to take away his torment "but Abraham said, Son remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented".

I do not mean to insinuate that those who have children in this life will be in "torment" like the rich man was (after all, I am one of those who has two miraculous NICU babies). I gather that the rich man was a selfish, greedy man and that is why he was in torment. So, while that part of the parable does not apply here, the part about Lazarus does. Though he was denied certain things in this life, he was given it in the end. This brings such comfort to me. Perhaps I did not get a "gold medal" for all the "races" I've won, but I will not be denied my third miracle forever. I will be with you again someday, Luke.

It may seem like I was robbed of my prize as everything changed in that one small second when I knew you had left this life, but my prize still exists - you still exist! Perhaps our moment of celebration has been postponed for awhile, but we will still get the opportunity. I will one day get to hold you in my arms and give you all the love I possess for you. God will not deny us the righteous desires of our hearts - if not received here in this life, then undoubtedly in the next.

And that moment shall be an awesome one - one that shall last for eternity and not just one small second.


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