I was going through pictures on the computer looking for a picture. Don't ask me why, but I had the desire to be creative in wishing my cousin a Happy 60th Birthday. I knew what I was looking for, but couldn't find it.
As I scrolled through the folders of pictures, that desperately need to be sorted and re-filed, I ran across this picture:
It was taken exactly one week before the accident.
It was the last picture taken of Ethan before.
I've looked at that picture many times, but it's always been after I had made a deliberate decision to do so.
A decision made being fully aware of the extreme emotions that would follow.
This time I was caught off guard.
I wasn't prepared.
The tears fell silently.
Jim and Ethan were in the back of the house.
The moment was mine.
A few gasps for air to breathe. Hands touched the image on the computer screen to let memories flow across. Eyes stared at the picture, looking for signs of anything that could have been a warning. Something missed, that would have said all was not right.
A wish to go back to that moment. An opportunity to ward off what was to come.
I listened to hear the wise cracks from two twenty- somethings while they indulged their mom's desire for pictures on the beach.
Ethan wore one blue sock, one brown. He said that was all he could find. We laughed.
The sun was bright. The air was cool. The family was together. Life was perfect.
Or so I thought.
The voices in the house brought me back. Voices that were now joking in the bedroom instead of on the beach.
They reminded me that dinner needed to be finished.
Dinner for Jim and Ethan.
The Ethan that God gave back to us.
A face was wiped, eyes were dried, lap top closed.
The image was gone.
The next morning I needed to respond to an e-mail. As my hand reached to open the computer, I remembered the picture I stumbled upon the day before.
I knew it was there. Hidden somewhere in a named file, waiting to be touched and cried over another time.
Thinking of the memories, the moments, and Ethan before that were hidden inside my computer, caused the tears to fall again.
This time they weren't silent tears. They were shed with words of praise and thanksgiving.
God, I know the only reason Ethan is here with us today is because of your mercy and goodness. You breathed life into him a second time, and I know the only reason he is not in a nursing facility being taken care of by strangers is because of you.
You are the only reason he laughs, and reads, and has a memory that puts everyone else's to shame. God, because of you, he can eat, share in conversations, crack jokes.
It is by your Grace that we laugh, and love, and hope. You are the reason our family is whole, even when each of us is terribly broken.
It is all because of you God.
Only because of you.
And then what was at the bottom of the well of tears finally came out.
"God I miss him."
"I miss Ethan."
"I know," I heard The Voice say.
And with those simple words, from The One I've come to know, a wave of comfort washed over me.
Washed over me from head to toe.
A wave that washed together the son in the picture with the son still asleep in his bed.
Washing me in His love.
Washing me in the love He has for my child... the child that was before and the child that is now.