The following is some writing I did four years ago in a blog that flopped because of my negligence. But as I read it again, I realized that it was one of my favorite posts. So, here's to recycling!
My family and I were at the pool the other day. I was wading at the edge of the pool supervising J, R and D splashing away like puppies. They adore the water and it brings me such joy to watch them be so carefree. Whenever I am in a huge throng of people, I like to survey all of them. I usually pick one or two that pique my interest and I check up on them every once in awhile either because their behaviors intrigue me or they are just plain weird looking. I treat them like visual blogs during my stay.
This particular day, only one family caught my eye. I saw them out in the deeper water, a mother and, what seemed to be, her around-four year old son. The mother, a young blond woman with her hair up in a pony tail, was completely and lovingly absorbed in her son whom she was cradling in her arms while going up and down gently in the water. The aspect that kept my gaze, was the amount of time this child was letting her do this without squirming or yelling out in joy. Any active, normal 3 to 4 yr. old boy would have been holding on for dear life or ready to jump out of her arms. But this boy acted like a new born in the way he rested in his mom's grasp. He had every characteristic of a healthy boy...no contorted face, nor twisted limbs and no jerky telltale movements that would indicate otherwise. But as time passed, I realized this child was special needs and his Mom's gentle care made this more clear. The Mother was so beautiful in the way she was soaked up in her son. Her face held the expression of a face you might see on someone getting a good back rub. I could tell in their world, no one else was at the pool that day...just the two of them. As she exited the water, it also came to my attention that she was heavily pregnant with another child.....which, of course, only added to her beauty. She then joined two other children, (one younger brother and a much older sister) and her husband who took the child from her arms, kissed him, and gently placed him in a stroller. He stood over his son for awhile just talking to him in a cooing and adoring manner. Could this family become any more beautiful to me?
I felt a strong urge to talk to this woman. She went back into the water with her younger son and sat herself down in the shallow part. I walked over to her vicinity with my little ones and gauged whether she was approachable or not. You can tell if someone has no desire to have contact when they avoid eye contact at all costs. This woman had a kind smile, which I took as a good sign. I ventured to ask when she was due to which she responded in several months. With my growing belly, she asked the same and the conversation was then ignited.
We spoke of children, the number we had, the ages and names. Trying to relate, I mentioned my own memories of the joys and struggles of having my fourth. I then took a risk and told her I had noticed that her son was special needs and how I had enjoyed watching them have a good time in the water. (Let me preface the rest of this account by saying that I can not tell you how many times the Lord has put it on my heart the desire to talk to certain individuals never knowing why. But inevitably, I end up being blessed by these very people the Lord puts in my path. When listening to this woman talk, I knew I was supposed to be exactly where I was.) She nodded her head and said, "Yes, he is special needs." Then there was a pause and she continued, "You know,.... he was born completely normal. But at 18 mos. he contracted a viral form of spinal meningitis, and because he was so young and his immune system was so immature, the virus settled in his brain permanently." My heart went out to her. I felt tears secretly well up that would never surface. I imagined what it must have been like to have a vibrant 18 mos. old that could walk, say a few words and give big juicy kisses...only to have it all stolen away in days, unexpectedly and horrendously. But I knew she had more to say so I remained silent and nodded my head. She went on, "We have been told that we don't have very much time left with him, as the virus is just going to get worse....maybe 1 to 4 years. It's been 2.5 years already, and we just don't know. For a long time, we didn't want to leave the house fearing something would happen and then we realized it was going to happen whether we waited for it or whether we continued to enjoy him and live our life. Many people have even questioned our having more children.....but this little boy has made us not be afraid of life but want to thirst after it. He has been a blessing, why wouldn't we want more?"
Preach on sister.
I knew there was something special about the way she was swimming around in the water with her son. I was watching someone who knew time was limited with the little life in her arms. The scene now had added meaning now that I knew the circumstances. The way the father gently placed his son, with a kiss, back in the stroller with words of comfort now meant more. Here was a family yearning for the blessing of more time and taking advantage of every second.
I need to learn from this.
I have met people in situations like this before. I rarely feel sorry for them. But more often than not, I feel a sense of awe, respect and curiosity at the way they handle it. There have been circumstances in my life that I would not wish on anyone else nor would I want to experience them again....but I can tell you, that I am so grateful I had the experience of going through it. Many times (such as the one I am portraying) these people feel the same way about their terminal circumstances. They wouldn't want anyone else to go through it nor would they want to go through it themselves again, but they feel absolutely blessed to have learned what they have and to have earned renewed perspectives and priorities.
At the risk of sounding completely nuts, I have to admit not only a sense of awe of people in terminal situations but a sense of jealousy as well. Just hang with me here. I don't want the circumstances they are in by any means. When people are in these situations they are thrust at the feet of Christ and have the opportunity to experience his mercy, grace and comfort on a level that can't be attained without that type of circumstance. I am jealous of the opportunity to get that intimate with my creator not the pain and loss imposed by the circumstance. They also have an opportunity to witness this opportunity to the world and their lives can scream out His love and hope in all circumstances. And you know what?
People will listen. They inherently know the need to.
Tell me. If you were put in front of two people one dying of brain cancer and the other having no competing struggles........would you not listen more closely to, and examine the life of, the terminal patient in the quest of drawing out some kind of wisdom or perspective they have gained though their trials? You would do this because you know that this person has had the opportunity to experience God at a much deeper level because of his circumstance. I am not saying all people with terminal circumstances have chosen to experience the Lord in this way.....some have thrown in the towel thinking they were cursed. Others, the ones I am talking about, have used it to be blessed and to bless others beyond belief.
They are powerful.
Now, I don't know if this family at the pool knew that they blessed and inspired me. I highly doubt it. I wish I had the chance to tell them. I will pray for this opportunity and for them. But walking away from the pool that day I looked at my children differently. We all have limited time with them and the people we love....we just don't know the time frame God has chosen. This family just happened to know their time frame with a little more certainty. My desire is to treat my family like that woman treated her child in the pool......with total adoration and with a sense that time is precious and limited.
I want to live life like it's terminal but with the joy of knowing it's eternal.