Until now, we have not let Shep in on just how close he came to loosing his life. He knew he got REALLY sick when he fell in the pool. He understood that he rode in an ambulance, that doctors and nurses worked incredibly hard to make him better. He likes to talk about how mommy and daddy, all of our friends and family, and a ton of people we didn’t even know where praying for him to get well.
But the fact that he almost died, that death was supposed to be his outcome, has never been mentioned.
Erron and I knew we’d let him in on the details eventually, but we figured we let much of that play out naturally, and offer up more detailed information organically as conversations arose.
Last Thursday, on the way home from school, Shep started asking me about the story of Lazarus. He was quizzing me on all the details until I finally just told him to chill and I’d read it to him straight from the source. When we got to the house, I quickly tried looking it up in his Jesus Storybook Bible. I couldn’t fine Lazarus but I found the one about the Dad who goes running into town desperately searching for Jesus to save his daughter from dying. Before they get back to his house, Jairus, the father, hears he’s too late. They didn’t make it time to save his daughter. Everybody’s devastated. Except Jesus, because he knew the story wasn’t over yet. Instead he walks into the girl’s room and wakes her up as if she were only sleeping. P.S.:She’s hungry, can somebody please get this girl some food? It defies logic. A total miracle. Can you imagine how Jairus felt? I have an idea.
As Shep’s question’s continued, it became obvious it was the right time to let him in on some of the more difficult truths from his drowning. We talked miracles and I revealed to Shep that he was our own miracle. “Did I die?” Shep asked me. “No…but you came really close.” The doctors did great work, they did everything right, but God was the ultimate player in that game. I have no reservations saying this because it’s what every doctor who’s had professional experience with Shep’s case has confirmed. Before Shep was discharged, our favorite super doc from Children’s PICU told us he could count on one hand cases he’s seen like Shep’s. He just did not see it turning out the way it did. He’d done his best to consistently to prepare us for the worst, or at the very least, a different version of Shepherd… until eventually it was undeniable. We had gotten Shep back.
Having that conversation with Shepherd wasn’t difficult, even though some of technical “why” questions were hard. All in all, I’m impressed by how easy it was, and how appropriate it felt. The opportunity basically fell in my lap, and the fact that it led up to Easter, a time dedicated to the ultimate defeat of death, made the conversation feel special instead of painful.
I can’t truthfully tell you what I’d be like if we hadn’t gotten our miracle. When I really think about how our story should have ended, I’m honestly not sure I could’ve survived it. Even with Shep’s incredible recovery, I nearly fell off the deep end last year more times than I’d like to admit. But I believe that because of Jesus, death is not The End and I’m banking on the fact this belief would have stayed true for me even if Shepherd was not mine to keep. In fact, I’m counting on it being the only thing to get me through an unimaginable loss like that. This belief, this hope in something unseen, was the only reason Erron and I made it through our first night in PICU without loosing our minds. We had a peace that was greater than our circumstances. It was bigger than us, and bigger than Shep. As time moves us further away from Shep’s accident , it’s a feeling that’s undeniably harder to grasp now, but I will never forget it and I know I didn’t make it up. Nothing about it made sense, it just was.
Like that father in the Bible, I’m so thankful for my second chance. I’m just as grateful for a God who prepared a way for Love to trump death. I adore Shep’s storybook bible because it makes that point so clear. LOVE is what wins that battle. I know not everyone subscribes to this belief, maybe they are made of stronger stuff than me…but there’s no question, I couldn’t get very far without it.