Sometimes God's gifts are just too good to be kept to yourself.
This is one of them.
My dad had knee replacement surgery September the 4th. I spent 8 days in Mobile with my parents, and away from Jim and Ethan. That was the longest amount of time, by far, that I've been away from Ethan. Away from him, that is, since his accident.
While I was away, it was amazing to call Ethan and to hear his voice over the phone. To talk with him about what he and his dad did during the day. What they ate. Was dad giving him the remote? About church. How Bayley was doing.
The week before Ethan's accident, I had signed Ethan and myself up for a new cell phone plan and we both got new phones. Ethan immediately put a new voice message on his phone that was 100% Ethan. Not cutesy. Not corny. Not business like. Just Ethan. The kind of voice message that makes you think you'd like to know the kid behind the voice.
Jim was the only non-cell phone user in the family. After Ethan was hurt, Jim started using Ethan's phone so we could always be in touch with each other.
I know it sounds crazy, but I just couldn't listen to Ethan's voice message. If I called Jim and he didn't answer, I would hang-up before E's voice message came up. I thought if I heard his voice I wouldn't be able to stand it. I thought hearing Ethan's voice might be the one thing that would push me over the edge. Make me lose it. Take me to a place of grief that I couldn't come back from. The voice on that message belonged to someone the doctors told me was gone. Someone who would never come back to me.
For months, I wouldn't leave Jim a message on Ethan's phone. Sometimes Seth would, but I wouldn't let myself hear Ethan's voice.
There were times I felt strong. I remember one time walking through a parking garage by my myself. It was early in the morning, still dark. I had that weird feeling like someone is walking right behind you. I just stopped, turned around and said, "If you're here, come on out. I've already been through the worst and it hasn't killed me. There is nothing I am afraid of." It felt great to be that bold. But ten minutes later in the ICU again with Ethan, I felt like a raw egg fixing to roll off the kitchen counter.
I can't remember the exact day, or the reason why, but I called Jim and he didn't answer. I held the phone to my ear and listened to Ethan's message. To his voice. And I cried, and I cried, and I cried. My baby's voice. A voice that was strong. Funny. Sweet.
I would end the call, push redial button, and listen to it over and over again. Cries came out of me from places I didn't know existed. This voice went with the broken body laying in the hospital room. How could that be?
That was over 4 1/2 years ago.
When Ethan came out his coma, he still had a trach tube, and was so hurt and weak he could only mouth words. He was only able to softly whisper an answer to our questions. We would ask him if he was comfortable. He would whisper in reply, "Quite." We would ask him if a new position felt better and he would say, "Much." Simple answers. But what a tremendous blessing to be able to communicate with him. And him with us.
It's taken this long for me to be able to have a normal conversation with Ethan over the phone. To understand him without watching his lips. Sometimes he still talks a little too fast and his words run together. He is also working on his inflection with his speech therapist. Ethan will read her parts of the presidential political speeches, after she has highlighted certain words and phrases for him to emphasize. I know Mia will be glad when the elections are over. If I had my choice, he would be reading something about the Gators from the sports page.
No. Not really. Ethan has always cared about the world around him. He has always cared about people that are hurting. That's one of the reasons I've always wanted to be like him. And, even when I don't agree with all his political views, I'm proud he cares.
The other night as I listened to Ethan's voice on the phone, I just kept thinking, "God, You are just too good. You knew all the time, when I wouldn't listen to Ethan's voice message, that one day I would hear it again. Not just from a cell phone voice message. But from him. You knew the day I listened to Ethan's message and I cried and cried, that I would one day laugh again at one of his funny remarks. That I would hear him tell me that he loves me. You knew about the nights that were to come, when I would lean over him to tell him how proud I was of him and that he would be able to tell me that he's proud of me too. That he's glad I'm his mother. You knew.
God, there's no one like You. You're so much more than I ever imagined. You have given me so much more than I could ever have even hoped for.
Today, with this prayer of thanksgiving and praise, I ask you to give the same blessing to people I know that also want to hear their child's voice again. Please give this same gift to Dave with Michael, to Janne with sweet Kate. To Angela with precious Lillie. To little Abby and her mom.
Father, You are good. And somehow I know, if I had never heard Ethan's voice again, I would be praising and thanking You for something else.
Because You are always good and Your mercies are new every morning."