"It seems so exceptional that things just work out after all. It's just another ordinary miracle today." --Sara Mclachlan
Have you ever gone grocery shopping at 11:00 at night and seen the irresponsible mothers who are carting their tired toddler around in the shopping cart. The poor kid's eyes are dark and drooping, their head is a lead weight on their shoulders, and you think, "Why in the world isn't that poor baby in bed?" I have, and now I'm humbled.
In preparation for Toby's MRI, I was instructed to only let him have five hours of sleep the night before. They wanted him to be so thoroughly exhausted that he would drop off to sleep with just a touch of sedation. He also was not allowed anything to eat or drink for six hours before the procedure, so I knew I didn't want to wake him early and have him screaming for his morning juice. This meant waking him at 6:30am, which translated into keeping him up until 1:30am! Quite an undertaking. He was thrilled until about 10:00pm, when the sleepies really set in. So we went to the grocery store and rode the one-cent horse ride, and I got a little shopping done too. Of course people stared and wondered what sort of mother I was, and I felt like telling them to mind their own business, "He has an M--R--I to-mor-row! I'm not a bad mom!" OK, I will never think bad thoughts about the other moms at the grocery store again, maybe they have a strange explanation too.
Toby was recharged by his stint as "cowboy of the grocery store," and we were also blessed to see the full length of a "CHOO-CHHOOOOO!" at the crossing by our house. Another block down the road their was a fire-truck parked with it's lights flashing against the dark sky. By the time we reached home around 11:30pm there was enough adrenaline in Toby's system to support him for another hour. About 12:45am Toby and I were both running on empty and I decided to put him down--close enough to 1:30am for me.
We were up around 6:30 and checked in at the hospital by 7:30am. I guess the person before Toby was claustrophobic, so that pushed Toby's appointment back some. Finally at 8:30, when he was reaching the end of his tired, thirsty, hungry patience we were called back. He tolerated the stickers on his chest, but certainly not the IV placement. Unfortunately he did not drift peacefully to sleep with a touch of sedation either. I guess some kids choose to fight rather than succumb, and Toby fought as if it were his dying breath: flailing, squalling, back-arching, and thrashing. It was all we could do to keep the IV in. He finally succumbed after about 15 minutes of fury. Then we were left alone in the cold white room, Toby limp and hooked to monitors, and me in a chair beside him with headphones and the latest National Geographic.
Somehow after all the chaos it was eerily still in that room. I suddenly remembered why we came: the unmistakable, inexplicable lumps all over his little head. It was hard not to let my imagination go. What were they seeing inside his head right now? What if they're seeing masses, tumors, lesions? What would that mean for Toby and for our lives? Was that worry I detected in the technician's voice when he spoke to me over the headset just now? How would I respond if it turned out to be the worst? Would I still trust God? Would I still praise him? Somehow I knew that I would. The technicians were frustratingly poker-faced as they unhooked Toby's equipment and woke him from sedation. Then I was sent home with a furious, delirious toddler, a lot of unanswered questions, and more fear than I had felt in a long time.
Toby was inconsolable, even at home. He looked heavily drugged. He couldn't stand up, and he wouldn't sit still or lie down. I'm not sure he even knew where he was or who we were for about an hour. Matt and I took turns holding him and trying to calm him, until he finally sat in a high chair and had some lunch, then gave in to sleep around 1:00pm. He took a five-hour nap which was a blessing to my weary body, but left more quiet time for me to worry. When the MRI was days away I had put the potential result out of my mind fairly easily, but now that I knew the phone could ring any minute with news that would change our lives I began to feel weak, even panicky, something my stable psyche is not at all accustomed to.
I called the pediatrician's office at 3:00pm and again at 4:00, no results. I had to collect myself to get Naomi from the school bus, put some dinner on the table, and prepare for a parent-teacher conference with Naomi's teacher that evening. Matt and I took our cell-phone with us to the conference when we left at 6:15pm, but in an all-cement building we missed the phone call from the pediatrician. The phone vibrated with a message as we left. My heart began to pound as I listened to the message. I recognized the voice of the nurse as she spoke, "The official report is still unavailable, but Dr. A called and spoke with the radiologist. He said the brain and skull were normal." I sighed and whispered, "normal," to Matt who was waiting anxiously for my word, and suddenly the sky was blue again.
After a drought the rain feels cooler, after the clouds the sun shines brighter, after the winter the flowers smell fresher, and after the long walk up Mount Moriah the angel's voice was never sweeter, "Now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." You may think I'm being melodramatic, but I think most mothers would have feared for their son's life in my situation, and I felt as if I had received him back from the dead. Toby is healthy! There will be no brain surgery, no chemotherapy, just normal toddler-hood. Did I take that for granted before? I don't now.
Again and again in my life I am faced with the question: would I give my children up if that were God's purpose for their life? How would I react if he wanted to teach others through their suffering or death? It is an easier question to answer in the abstract, much more difficult when your sweet child is lying limply inside an MRI machine with lumps on their head. But by his grace I have answered back, "Lord, not my will, but yours be done," and in his mercy he has handed my children back to me each time as if to say, "just checking." I am grateful, truly. If I hadn't been through yesterday I wouldn't appreciate today as much. It may seem ordinary to you, it is a miracle to me, but much of our lives are daily ordinary miracles aren't they?