As seen in Angelic Magazine September 2016 Lexington Issue (http://issuu.com/angelicmag/docs/septemberlexington)
We each sat with our faces resting in our hands, tears streaming uncontrollably through our fingers. Loud bursts of weeping were heard from every corner of the room. Two representatives from Hospice came to share with our family what to expect in the coming weeks. The end was near, and though this fight had exhausted us all, we were not ready to give up.
My nephew Ashe had been sick for almost 2 years. Following a car accident, tests determined he had an inoperable tumor growing on his brainstem. Brainstem Glioma, a rare but fatal cancer. He was two and a half years old when he was diagnosed.
As we sat discussing his potential fate that evening, and delegating between our own self-anger and lack of understanding towards the situation, Ashe walked from person to person. He took tissues from the Kleenex box in the center of the floor and delivered them to each tear streaked face. He kept saying he was sorry to see us cry, and not to be sad.
My mom often shares her memory from that night when he handed her two Lincoln logs and a small stuffed duck. He asked her not to cry, and she replied ‘I’m just really sad baby.’ Trying to lighten the mood, she put the duck on top of the logs and said ‘Look, a duck on stilts.’ He cackled and cried out ‘Do it again, Nana.’ Such great innocence and joy for such a weak wee little child.
Little did he know or understand, we were crying because of him. We were in sorrow for losing him. We were angry because he was sick, and his time with us was so very limited. He was only four years old.
We did everything we knew to do. We had taken him to the elders of our church and prayed over him. We had fasted. We had begged for God to heal him. We had begged for mercy. We had begged for miracles. Yet, here we were facing the moment we never wanted. Here we sat, hearing of how he would soon be gone and what we should do to prepare.
How do you prepare yourself for losing a child? Nothing about this made any sense.
I began to cry out to God in complete disbelief this could be a part of His will. How could a God of love, who cares for His creation, allow such anguish towards those He loves?
That was 13 years ago. I wont say I always understood, and perhaps I never will in its entirety. However, when life brings sorrow I just can’t wrap my head around, I try and place myself in God’s position. When you think of the earth, the universe and the stars that are light-years away; what we see is only a minor glimpse into creation.
Creation, beyond human life and our scope, is an immeasurable amount of space and time. We cannot fully comprehend what even science has been able to decipher of it, and we cannot imagine how much more remains unchartered.
I’m not belittling our pain or our feelings or our despair. I’m simply saying, if I could see the bigger picture of everything, and have the power to control everything, I would then possibly have a creditable place to judge the actions and allowances of God. For those who don’t consider Him part of the equation, I cannot imagine how heavy the hurts of this world feel. For we are currently in the valleys and the trenches, with only small breaks in the shadows to show precursors of what is to come.
Ashe passed away almost two months after the evening when Hospice came. He would have been 17 years old this past January. In earthly time, we keep such close record of the days. But when it comes to eternity, there is no need. To attempt measuring eternity, or tracking progress through it would be like counting water drops in the oceans as they change to vapor and clouds, then to rainfall and return. The process is never-ending; the timeline does not have a completion.
But if there is nothing to come, no better life than this, than we remain in the valleys and the trenches, and the burden is never lifted. It becomes overpowering. It becomes suffocating. Death is just the end, and the point of everything here is, at the very least, highly questionable.
Ashe may be the closest image of Jesus I have experienced, and definitely the strongest 4-year-old I have ever known. In the midst of his suffering, he exuded strength and joy. Amongst pain, he still laughed and made us laugh. We were each mourning our loss of him, and he consoled us. He was innocent, full of love, and undeserving of his pain. Yet, I can see through the redemptive story of my family and of healing it was not without purpose.
We each have a god, something that leads us and determines our steps. We each have something we idolize and put our trust in. The choice of what takes that position in our lives has been left to us. I once made the choice to deny God and run, questioning Him and His choices and the weights of this world were heavy. But returning to Him, I can see beyond the end of this temporal state, and the burden is lighter. So very light.
Though I miss Ashe, understanding and fully knowing there is something beyond my exhaustive human life provides strength within my limited scope. I look off, towards the eternal and expansive space, the unchartered territory we cannot yet see. And I know that when I speak, the God who is bigger than all creation, and beyond anything I could imagine, bends down to listen. And He takes note of everything I say, and even what I question. Yet, He is outside of these trenches and outside of these valleys in which we currently reside. He sees eternity in its entirety. So I’ll choose humility over immediate explanation. For as the sun rises every morning, He has proven He is trustworthy.