Guess what I have learned?
You know flashbacks? They aren't just handy literary or tv/movie story-telling tools. They are real.
We've been coming to Children's for a full year now, and have often reminded ourselves of different aspects of our first trip here. But nothing has brought those memories back like being here the last 3 weeks has.
I walk past a paticular waiting area, or pass through a certain hallway, or see Alan have a procedure, or watch Dale enjoy the trains, and I get images of January 2007, just as clearly as if it was last week.
Flashbacks are real.
And they are very much like you see on tv. Not as dramatic, of course. Or traumatic. But for a brief moment I find myself completely absorbed in a memory. Same place - different time.
So much has changed since last year. This exact weekend one year ago we were in wide-eyed wonder. It was the first time we had ever set foot inside this hospital. We had already sent Alan in for one surgical procedure (a liver biopsy) and were awaiting a surgery on Monday that would be a diagnosis, and possible treatment. We were learning so much, so fast. We had no idea what lay ahead. Every thing was new.
Even then, when everything was so new and scary and we had so much to fear, God placed his peace in our hearts. It was amazing. We knew better than ever before what it was like to actually feel the prayers of others. The peace was amazing. It still is. The peace that passes all understanding has been abundant this past year, and has come in heaping helpings these last few weeks as well.
January 22, 2007 was a Monday. That was surgery day. The first report from the OR we heard confirmed Alan's diagnosis: yes, it is biliary atresia. The next step was to go ahead and perform the procedure that would be Alan's lifeline for a length of time that God only knew. It might never work. It might work for a short period of time. It might work for years and years. And when it no longer worked? What would the option for Alan be? Transplant.
We were devastated. Heart broken. And, initially, afraid. (Think of Peter taking his eyes off Jesus and seeing the waves instead.)
Then a kind, wise nurse stepped in. She listened. And then she said, "A transplant is not a death sentence." She explained what pediatric transplants are like today. And then she said her husband had even had a kidney transplant a few years back!
Through the remainder of 2007 we learned so much. We learned more about Alan's condition. We learned more about liver transplants. We learned lots about kids that have had liver transplants and thrived. We learned about precious little ones who did not survive the fight against liver disease and are in heaven today. More than anything, we learned to trust God and His wisdom and His timing.
Today I look at Alan and the scar that stretches from one side of his belly to the other, and reaches almost up to his breastbone. And I love that scar. His transplant was not a death sentence. The scar that it left behind represents a precious gift of life.
Alan's scar is not the only one that represents life. Our Lord has scars. In his hands. His feet. His head. His side. His scars represent life as well. Our sin should have been our death sentence. But Jesus took it as his. And then He did what we cannot - He conquered death. And He has the scars to prove it. Those scars give us life. A precious gift of life.
I don't know what the next year will bring. When I stand in January 2009, who knows where my flashbacks will take me? All I know is, I praise God that no matter what changes, He will be there. He travels ahead of us. He holds our future. and He is waiting for us with peace, love and grace beyond measure!