Close my eyes; life slips away. Open. Blink. Life begins. Exhale—I cannot hold my breath any longer. Open. Blink. Life changes forever. —
Friends, you need to hear, because I need to say— I need to tell you— I have seen life in its most fragile moments, and I cannot comprehend for even one brief second, why, the great God of this universe would choose me to be present in these— in His— miraculous moments. But, you need to hear it, because I need to say it.
Life is too short, but memories make it shorter. I cannot close my eyes these days without seeing so vividly the final moments of my father’s earthly life slipping away. I see his blue eyes suddenly, shockingly awaken from his final few moments of peaceful sleep, as if he is staring into the doorway of heaven itself. It takes his breath away and blinds him. I can almost hear the angels’ trumpets resounding and guiding him closer and closer to the glory of eternity in the presence of God. I am there; I am here, as a witness. And I stand here crying.
And I want so badly to shake this image, because I simply cannot live every moment of every day of my life revisiting the enormity of this one milli-second. Desperately, I desire to see something else in my mind—this time a fragile life enters the world. This precious baby boy, the one who’s mother loved him enough to give him life, against every wish of every other woman she knew in her teenaged world. Don’t make the same mistake we made, they say — to their daughter, niece, grand-daughter, cousin, sister— I hear my own voice shouting the loudest whisper, to my student, to my self, telling her, it really is OK to let this child live inside you, to bring him into this world, to give him a chance that you never had.—Her perfect, precious, living baby boy gasps his first perfect breath as his momma screams out in agony and relief and terror and fear of the future. And I stand here crying.
I remain in limbo between the end of life and the start of life between these two images— memories experienced years apart, and I pray. I pray, Lord, help me see the in-between continuing on, life going on, death not gripping humanity, and birth not terrifying.–
Another other stark image flashes like lightning between the beginning and the end — A neighbor man, 50 years old, horizontal on his couch, his wife hysterically wailing in the background, and I, on the phone with the dispatch operator, hold this quickly-turning-blue neighbor-man’s life in my hands. On Three!— 1- 2- 3— Lift him to the floor. His ribs crack beneath my clenched palms; life begins to pump through his heart. Dispatch says, keep going, do not stop. Do not stop. Do. Not. Stop. Auto-pilot takes over, and I do not stop until the real heroes arrive to take over. Yes, sir, I can drive her to the hospital. We arrive, and the doctors escort the near-widow to her comatose husband, now breathing, still alive, once strong, instantly fragile. I leave the hospital, place the key in my car door. And I stand there crying.
Open. Blink. Life enters the world. I exhale, cannot hold my breath any longer. Open. Blink.—A curly-headed three year-old climbs up on my lap for a hug.
Open. Blink.–My sweet momma, strong as diamonds, grabs my hand a little longer.
Open. Blink.– My husband snuggles a little closer.
Open. Blink. Exhale. — And I am reminded, in the darkest place, at the end of this day, that crying is the first sign of life — life surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord, I surrender.