Monday, December 1, 2008

A Hard Day

Today was a hard day.

Five years ago this morning, I kissed Ethan good-bye before I left for preschool.

He called me a few hours later, as he was driving back to Gainesville. Happy as a lark. Music playing in the background.

I remember not being too sad when we said good-bye, because I knew I would be seeing him in less than four weeks.

He would be home for Christmas.

That was my last before moment with Ethan.

Oh, I talked to him on the phone.

But that was my last before moment with him.

My heart is so full of thanksgiving to God for-

Ethan's life.For his memory.
For his mind.
For his sense of humor.
For his intelligence.
For his precious heart that is so full of compassion.
And so full of love towards his family and friends.
For his second chance.

The child is an absolute gift.
A perfect example of God's grace.

I have never loved him more.

But on December 7th, 2003, I lost a part of him.

That is what a traumatic brain injury does.

A rehabilitation nurse came to our house shortly after Ethan awoke from his coma. He explained services, rehab possibilities and what we might expect as far as recovery was concerned.

With my degree in Special Education, I thought I had a pretty good handle on brain injuries. But, this nurse gave the best definition of an anoxic brain injury than I had ever heard.

"Pretend like there is a white sheet hanging on the wall. You dip your fingertips in wet paint and then you walk up to the sheet and flick your fingers. There will be a little speck here. A little speck of paint there. There will be a big blob here and a little blob over there. Those "specks and blobs" are areas of the brain that are dead or damaged. A little here. A lot there. There's not always a rhyme or reason as to where the specks and blobs appear. Just like how long you keep your hand in the paint will determine how much paint you have to flick on the sheet, the amount of time the brain is without enough oxygen determines how many places in the brain are affected and to what extent."

That is, how much damage there is to the brain.

Well, here's the miracle...

After CAT scans and MRI's...after being observed for 2 1/2 months in the hospital, after specialist after specialist...the doctors agreed that the damage to Ethan's brain was so extensive that he would never wake up. That he would live completely unresponsive. In a vegetative state.

Do I believe the doctors made a mistake?

No... I don't.
They only knew what they saw.

What their education and experience had taught them.

They just didn't account for God.

God who is The Most High.

Higher than prescription drugs and alcohol.
Higher than doctors and MRI machines.

Higher than science and education.

Higher than not enough oxygen getting to Ethan's brain.

Higher than the schemes of the enemy

that tried to destroy my child and my family.


And, this MOST HIGH GOD did an unbelievable miracle in Ethan's body, and in our lives on April 19, 2004.

Ethan came back to us.

But for reasons only known by Him, God has not yet healed all the specks and blobs on the white sheet.

Well, I have to take that last sentence back. There is one reason that He has already shared with us.

It's revealed in Romans 8:28:

"And we know that all things work together for good
to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to His purpose."

I know that my God is able.

And as hard as it is, I believe, in the stillness and quietness of my heart, that God knows what is best for Ethan.

Best for Jim, best for Seth and best for me.

Only He knows, and He will do it.

Does believing and knowing that keep me from hurting?


Does that keep me from missing those parts of Ethan where there are still "specks and blobs?"


Does it keep me from closing my eyes, five years later, and trying to imagine that none of this really ever happened?

From imagining what it would be like to wake up and this all to have been just a nightmare?


I still do that from time to time.

Does it keep me from telling God that I just want my baby back?


(Call me crazy, but I know there have been times when I've told Him that "I just want my baby back" when I have felt Him pat me on my head and say, "I know you do, precious. I know you do.)

But, I will tell you one thing that I don't do.

I don't forget God's amazing grace.

That His grace is the only the reason we have Ethan with us.

The only reason we are still a family.

And, I don't forget that that same unbelievable grace is sufficient for every one of those "specks and blobs.

Five years later, we are still believing God and His grace for more miracles.

We're still asking.

We are still expecting.

Thank you and bless you, you who are still believing, still expecting, and still asking with us.


  1. Hi Cheri & Jim, It's Julie (Smucker) now Cooper! Seth just gave me this blog today when I spoke with him earlier and asked about Ethan... This has truly touched me and makes me so happy and hopeful when I read it. What an amazing faith you have found through all of this. I think about Ethan often and remember what a sweet and caring spirit he was... and of course still is! We always had such a good time with him! Anyway, I think this blog is just so wonderful and I'm so glad to hear all the positive news about Ethan. He will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers, as will all of you! All my best from (snowy and cold!) Chicago---Julie

  2. WOW! God is So Good and So Faithful. Thanks for letting me share some of this walk you, Jim, Ethan and Seth have be walking these last five years. I always stand amazed at all of you and your love for each other. Thanks. I love you all. MaryLois

  3. Thanks too for letting me share in this amazing walk. I am so thankful to be apart of your lives and I will continue to pray of you all. I love you.