The other day while I was watching the news coverage of the rescue of ship captain Richard Phillips, I noticed in the scrolling news at the bottom of the television that an American soldier had been killed in a road side bombing in Iraq.
I've thought about the exhilaration Captain Phillips' family must have experienced. I've also thought about the long excruciating journey the lost soldier's family was beginning to take. A journey that will never end.
That day a miracle happened for one family. That day a nightmare began for another.
I was reminded of that irony as I remembered that 14 years ago today, April 19, the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City was bombed. 168 people lost their lives and over 800 were injured.
April 19. . . a day that hundreds of people dread.
April 19. . . a day that hundreds of people will always dread.
And yet for us. . . and for all those that love Ethan. . . April 19 is a day we celebrate.
We celebrate because that is the day we knew God had given Ethan back to us.
April 19, 2004, Ethan responded to us for the first time in four and a half months.
It was the day, after waiting for 132 days, that Ethan answered us when we asked him a question.
April 19, 2004, was the day we could tell Ethan that we loved him and once again know that he understood.
April 19, 2004, was the day, after so many tears and so much pain, that we could heard Ethan whisper, "I love you."
April 19, 2004, was the day, after being told by doctors that even if Ethan were to wake up. . . which they never thought would happen. . . he would not know us. . . his memory would be gone . . . he would never be the same. Well, that's the day Ethan answered everything we could think to ask him.
We asked him his name. Our names. Where he had gone to school. The kind of car he drove. The sport he played. The names of his friends. His birthday. His favorite bands.
And, when we printed words on a piece of paper. . . he could read them.
April 19, 2004, is Ethan's second birthday.
I don't know why God gave Ethan back to us, while other parents are still praying for their children to wake up and to know them. Parents that want to tell their children that they love them and to know their children understand.
I don't know why 168 people had to die on April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City. I don't know why the young American soldier died in Iraq this past week.
I don't know.
As I type my eyes are filling with tears.
I don't know if my tears are because I am so humbled, thinking about the grace and mercy God showed us five years ago today. Or, if my tears are for those who have found God's grace and mercy in a different way. In a way that is without the ones they love.
I don't know.
Am I crying because April 19 is a day marked with joy and amazement for us? Or am I crying for those who woke up today, and were flooded with the same pain and anguish they experienced 14 years ago? And yet, to them, it feels like yesterday.
I don't know.
Probably, because of both.
And, I guess, that's just what we'll do. . . we will cry about both, until. . .
"God wipes away every tear from our eyes, until there will be no more death, no more sorrows, no more crying. Until there will be no more pain. . . for the former things will have all passed away." Revelation 21:4