Friday, October 8, 2010
"Zane. Zane. Time to get up."
My three year old, who already had his eyes opened, turned over on his back and looked up at me from his bed.
"O-tay," he said.
"You're going with Mommy & Daddy today. The doctor is going to fix your eyes."
Telling a three year old in advance about any upcoming surgery is usually pointless. At least, this three year old. How does one prepare a 30 pound, 2 1/2 foot child about going to sleep and waking up in pain...but that it's all for the best?
Crossed eyes is hereditary in my family. My aunt was born with it and began wearing glasses at 18 months of age. Each of my nephews has it and Zane was diagnosed a few months ago. In our son's case, the doctor does not believe he was born with it, but it developed over time. Zane wore glasses throughout the summer, but his eye appointment at the end of August proved the glasses to be ineffectual. Surgery would be needed.
"No big deal," I thought. At least we wouldn't have to deal with the patching all of my nephews, my brother, and so many of our friends' children have had to deal with. Anesthesia? That's old hat in this family as our oldest son has "gone under" twice. Sure, Zane was younger and a different temperment, so I knew that a lot of crying (and possible screaming) would be involved when he awoke, but, again, no big deal. The chances of someone dying under anesthesia are far smaller than the chances of getting in an automobile accident. I AM NOT a paranoid mother. The surgery itself was not a concern. In and out. Michael had a life-threatening 10 hour surgery with a stay in the PICU and hospital for almost a week. Seriously, this was looking like a picnic in the park.
Until now. Zane's smile, his toddling steps down the stairs, and his innocence all began to tug at my heart on this morning of surgery. As I put on Zane's shirt I prayed, "Lord, please don't let this be the last time I get Zane up and ready in the morning." On the outside I was smiling and acting like we were just going to have a fun outing. On the inside, I was consciously jotting down every moment in case something happened and Zane did not come home with us. Morbid, I know. Just the kind of foolishness I usually laugh at. But, I guess a mother is a mother - no matter how many times she has been through various situations and how "logical" she has become.
Zane got to pick out a toy when we got to the surgical center. He enjoyed playing with his new truck while the doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists spoke with us. With my cell phone, I took a picture of his wide, toothless, cheesy grin. My cross-eyed baby. Then, the anesthesiologist picked him up and walked away with him.
"Mommy?" Zane says looking over the doctor's shoulder with his arm outstretched.
I sat there trying to hold back my tears. Zane didn't cry - he was a trooper. I wouldn't look at Eric as I felt like an idiot for crying. Seriously, this was minor surgery. Zane's doctor does dozens of these every week. No big deal. So, why did it feel like I was laying Zane upon the same altar I had lain Michael on two years ago?
Because it was the same altar.
Subconsciously, we moms know that our children may not be here until our old age. But, we don't let that fear rule our life or theirs. If we did, they would never leave the house and we would be miserable failures as parents. But, some days, the realization that we are not promised tomorrow with our little ones stares us right in the face. It is on those occassions, that I give them over to my Lord once again. I trust that His will is perfect - whether I hear that precious "o-tay" again or not.
Less than half an hour later, I was holding and rocking my crying Zane-man. I sang to him through my tears. I had had nothing to worry about; not because the success ratio was so high - but because my God was in control all along.
Though it is the rare case that children do not survive these minor procedures, there are cases where parents go home with an empty car-seats and hearts broken beyond belief. There are mothers that I know personally and that I have prayed for but never met, that have lost their children unexpectedly. It is only by the grace of God that they take each breath. They laid their children on the altar as I have. Whereas my children were allowed down off the altar (so far), their children were accepted into the arms of Christ. It is with that realization that my tears flowed when Zane was in surgery. I know in my heart that God's grace would be given, but oh how it must ache.
To the mother who has lost a little one: I am no one. But, I pray for you and many like you. You are a hero to me for going on with life each day. Thank you for your example and proving to moms like me that, if we ever have to take the same path you are following, God will pick us up and carry us down it.