Today marks one year since Amos was admitted to CHOC for the first time and we were sent into a life tailspin. Here are some reflections, one year later.
Last week we wrote about Amos’ most recent eye surgery. I mentioned how well Amos did, how well the surgery went, but also how our willing warrior is starting to recognize that many of these things are a lot less than fun. I have been thinking about the one complaint he offered, and one of the few I can remember throughout this whole ordeal.
“I wish we didn’t have to do this.”
Part of eye surgery is that Amos cannot rub his eyes whatsoever even though the doctor said it feels like his eyes are full of sand for a few days post-op. Ick! The only thing we can do is gently wipe his closed eyes with a clean soft tissue. So while sitting at the kitchen counter eating a snack just a few hours after getting home from the hospital last week, he asked me to wipe his eye. As I grabbed a tissue I noticed bloody tears trickling down his cheek (not unusual immediately post-op). I wiped his eye and he said with his voice barely above a whisper “I wish we didn’t have to do this.”
I have been thinking about this profound “complaint” from my precious son and wanted to share some reflections in the hopes that you will find them encouraging as well.
WE – I can’t tell you how thankful I am that he used the pronoun “we” in his complaint. Tears fill my eyes every time I think about this simple and precious statement. Hearing him say, “I wish we…” reveals a great deal to me about how he sees himself and us in all of this. Amos is not alone. He has never been alone and he never will be. He could have said “I wish I…” and I would have perfectly understood him. The fact that he said we indicates that even though he alone had eye surgery, he knows that we are all in this together, that we do everything together and that there is never ever a moment where he has to do any of this on his own.
Looking back on this year and the struggles that we have all endured, but especially Amos, it is so rewarding to hear him describe something so individual (eye surgery) in a collective way. We have worked so tirelessly to show Amos that we are a team- his team. But more importantly we have tried to impress upon him the unquestionable reality that he is never alone because God is with him. Every walk back into the OR, every time he has been given anesthesia for this or that, we have reminded him of this truth. What a precious gift if he could know this with certainty at a young age.
In a similar way, we ourselves know that it isn’t our strength or endurance that has made Amos able to say these things. We haven’t stood alone to support and sustain Amos. The four of us have been unspeakably supported by the Lord and all of you. By our parents. Our siblings. Our grandparents. Friends. Strangers. You have all played a priceless role in all of this and continue to do so. We can say nothing more than “thank you” as the debt of gratitude feels too big to ever repay.
HAVE TO – Just as Amos recognized the “we” in all of this, I am slightly amazed that he also articulated his understanding of the fact that we have to do these things. There simply is no other way. No other choice. His path to recovery has been filled with unpleasant, uncomfortable, painful, and utterly miserable moments. Yet I think that somehow he understands why we are doing these things- because we have to. As much as it kills me to see him endure what he must, it is again such a gift to be given this little glimpse into how he sees things. In that moment he knew he wasn’t happy about the fact that he’d had another eye surgery. He was likely in pain as the anesthesia was wearing off and yet he never questioned why it had been done. He never once said, “no, I won’t”. He has only ever been accepting of the things that we tell him we have to do. What a gift to us as his parents and what a great reminder as we all face moments filled with things that we would rather not endure.
I WISH- This last part brings me to my knees as I cannot think of a better summary of this whole experience. Oh, how we all desperately wish we didn’t have to do ANY of this. Looking back a year later there are so many things that are so wrong with all that we have experienced and seen this past year. I think it will take our hearts a lifetime to heal from all the pain that we’ve been witness to both personally and with those around us. It’s difficult to know how to process much of it as we have to keep going each day no matter what. There’s nothing I want more than to wake up and realize that it’s all just been a very bad dream.
And yet I can’t help but hear an echo in Amos’ words. I feel like I know in a small way how Jesus must have felt in the garden of Gethsemane.
“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” -Matthew 26:39
Part of being human is wanting to avoid pain and suffering. Jesus models this for us in this passage but also shows his faithfulness to what the Lord has called him to. The greatest sadness and deepest brokenness happened and was healed as Jesus died to save his people and reunite us with the Father. What wondrous love is this? Our hearts can barely comprehend such love. And yet as I’ve experienced the greatest suffering of my life, I know that this world and it’s pains and sorrows are not the end. Because Jesus was able to say “not my will, but Yours be done.” we have hope for tomorrow no matter what today brings.
It is not wrong to wish that Amos didn’t have to battle cancer. It is not wrong to wish that our life hadn’t been shattered by the discovery of a brain tumor in our beautiful three year old son. There is something deeply right about saying, “I wish we didn’t have to do this”, as we fix our eyes on heaven. We have the incredible advantage of knowing that someday all the sad things will come untrue (Revelation 21:4). All must be well because of what Jesus has already accomplished. We mourn and grieve the sorrows of this world. We feel the intense sting and pain of great loss. We struggle and we question but in the end we can rest, knowing that our God is a God who sees far beyond our present realities and into eternity.
I can’t think of a better way to say it than through this song that we’ve been singing in church. It is called “All Must be Well” and I have yet to get through more than the first verse with dry eyes.
You can listen here.
“Through the love of God our Savior, All will be well
Free and changeless is His favor, All is well
Precious is the blood that healed us
Perfect is the grace that sealed us
Strong the hand stretched forth to shield us
All must be well
Though we pass through tribulation, All will be well
Ours is such a full salvation, All is well
Happy still in God confiding
Fruitful if in Christ abiding
Steadfast through the Spirit’s guiding
All must be well
We expect a bright tomorrow; All will be well
Faith can sing through days of sorrow, All is well
On our Father’s love relying
Jesus every need supplying
Yes in living or in dying
All must be well”
Love in Christ,
Kelli, Will, Amos, and Luke