I had a moment like that this evening.
Tonight looked like any other Saturday night in our busy home. Matt was upstairs bathing the kids while I was in the basement piecing together 4 outfits for them to wear to church tomorrow morning. I pulled a few dress shirts and dresses from the ironing
I looked up to see my soon-to-be six year old Brady who said, "Hey mom, watcha doin?"
"I'm ironing something for you to wear to church tomorrow buddy. You are going to be super handsome!"
"Hey mom, watch me dribble! I'm better than Michael Jordan!" he said as he rapidly switched hands back and forth to bounce the ball.
"Michael Jordan, huh? Maybe you will be someday, but for today, you are a miracle!"
"What do you mean a miracle? Because I'm dribbling?"
And so it began. It started like other conversations that we have had over the past 4 years. As a parent to a young cancer survivor, I'm challenged as to how and when I should "spill the beans" about the whole cancer thing to my innocent child. I liken it an adoptive child's knowledge of how he comes to be part of his adoptive family. I think experts agree that the concept of adoption should always be part of a child's life story, but perhaps the details should be explained over time as the child matures. This is the same sort of philosophy Matt and I have used with Brady so far.
"You are a miracle Brady because you are dribbling that ball. And 4 years ago today you were a very sick boy who was far from home having surgery."
"Oh, I remember that story, about my scars. So what happened that day that was a miracle, mom?" he asked still dribbling.
I told the story of April 6, 2009. The day the skies poured rain and we walked him from the
Ronald Mc Donald house in Manhattan to the hospital where the best Neuroblastoma surgeon in the world was waiting. I told him a few details like that, but mostly I told him about the miracles.
"You had an opertaion to take the rest of the cancer out of your body. The doctor told us that you would have to go to a different hospital after your surgery to a very special place (ICU). You would have to stay there for a few weeks at least and that we wouldn't be able to talk to you or see you awake for a while. But there were hundreds and hundreds of people who prayed, Brady."
"So did that happen mom?"
"No it didn't! God heard the prayers! You didn't have to go to a different hospital. You didn't need a special breathing machine, and you woke up very quickly. And the coolest part of the story? We brought you home 5 DAYS LATER! It was a miracle!"
dribble.dribble.dribble....Then he stopped. He jumped up in my office chair, basket ball in hand and said, "Tell me about the other miracles God has done for me."
My heart pounded. The tears came. Could there be a more precious moment in time for a mom? My thoughts raced, "Oh God, how you have redeemed this terrible darkness in our past. This moment, this time with my child, I thank you for showing me the beauty you have created from what was so evil."
"Well buddy. There have been a lot of miracles. You are a triplet! That's a miracle!"
"So Eli and Cara are miracles too?" he asked with a scrunched nose. "Absolutely.And Allie, too" I said.
I went on to tell Brady that he was a baby something wasn't right. He wasn't walking like his brother and sister and he was upset a lot. He listened as he held that basketball, he listened with such a focus. I kept ironing to keep myself from sobbing as I told him how no one could figure out what was wrong. I told him that God gave me a strong feeling that we needed to keep searching for the reason that he wasn't walking. God told my heart that something was very wrong. The way God speaks to mothers, deep in their soul, that is miraculous.
I could have told him about the insurance issues we had leading up to his diagnosis. Our requests to scan his back had been denied multiple times by our insurance. Miraculously we had to change our insurance just weeks before his scheduled brain scan. And miraculously, the new insurance agreed to scan his back where doctors would find a raging tumor. These aren't details for a 5 year old boy, but certainly will knock his socks off someday.
His face sort of settled on top of the basketball as I told him that he came home just before Easter and within a few weeks, he was walking! After he learned to walk, he learned to run, then jump. With intensive physical therapy he learned to ride a bike, and to climb! One miracle followed another until we just learned to expect them!
"And so now I can do this mom?" More dribbling.
"That's right Brady boy!" I replied as the tears fell onto a wrinkled Sunday dress on the ironing board.
"It sounds just like the story in the bible mom. Jesus healed the blind man and made it so that he can see! It is a bad thing not to be able to see. You can't see your birthday cake, or your presents, or even yourself!"
"That is bad. And yes, it is just like that! God healed your body so that you could walk, and run...and dribble!"
"Well, what would have happened if he didn't heal me?" my very logical boy asked.
Is it time? Is it okay to talk "what ifs" with your 5 year old?
A peace that is indescribable came over me and I said, "Well, the cancer in your body would have kept growing."
"Would it have come out of my eyeballs? Gross!"
"No, but it would have grown so big that your body would not have been able to work."
"You mean, I would have died????????"
"I don't know sweetie. But what I DO know is that you are here right now. And you are healthy! God healed you! And you are a miracle!!!"
A few seconds passed. Wheels turned in that precious little head.
"Okay mom! Bye!" And off he went. Up to the bathtub.
As the ball rolled across the floor toward me, I listened to his feet go effortlessly up the stairs.
I fell to my knees.
God was there.
Gratitude, love, and everything amazing overwhelmed me.
I spent a few minutes there on my basement floor. The contrast of my yucky, dirty basement floor and the beauty of what had happened was incredible.
God does his best work in the messiest places I think.
After the kids were tucked in bed, and before my husband and I settled down to watch the big game, I looked up the story of Jesus healing the blind man.
As he went along he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."
Jesus goes on to heal that blind man, which is the part of the story that was very familiar to me. But this other part, from verse 3, I had forgotten about.
"This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."
The works of God have been displayed. Miracles on display. Miracles not to be forgotten, but to be explained to our children through the years. Miracles that have happened not because we are more special than anyone else, but they happened so that God's handiwork could be evident to those around us.
This, this, this is what it is all about.
What a night.