Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I am sitting in the chapel of the hospital. It's quiet and dark. Jim is sitting beside me. The doctor is sitting across from us. I know she is talking. I see her lips moving. The expression on her face tells me that she is wondering if we are getting it... are we understanding what she is saying.

Jim and I aren't asking any questions. We aren't crying. We aren't screaming. The doctor thinks if we are hearing her, if we are understanding her, we would be doing something. We would be telling her we thought she was wrong. We would be calling her a liar. We would not just be siting there.

So, she says it again. Her lips are moving again. This time her eyes are glistening. I think to myself, "This must be really hard for her. I wonder if she ever gets use to it. I wonder if they taught her how to do this in medical school. Is this the first time she's ever spoken these words to parents? Maybe she does it all the time. She really is cute. I wonder if she's married. Does she have kids?"

The doctor is right. I hear her words, but they are pinging off of me like bullets hitting a titanium shield. My guard is up. I have to keep it up. I am choosing the words I hear. I can only let so many words in at a time. I am screening everything I take in.

Can a parent ever really let these words in?

"We don't believe your child will wake up. And if he does wake up, he won't be the same child you knew before. He will not have his memory. He will not have his personality. The care we are giving him right now is just to keep him alive. Is that what you want? You, as his parents, have decisions to make."

And then she says his name.

She says my child's name.

"Even if he wakes up, which we don't believe he will, he will not be Ethan."

Sometimes God has to take us back to a place where we have been, so we can be thankful for where we are.

He did that for me the other night.

The three of us were experiencing a horrible case of boredom and closet fever. The high temperatures and the afternoon thunderstorms, plus a tight budget, had kept us inside way too long. We found a little relief when Jim signed us up for Netflix. That gave us instant access to movies through Ethan's Wii.

Trying to find something decent to watch is always a challenge, but we did. We watched The Count of Monte Cristo, Wuthering Heights, Joan of Arc, and lastly Of Mice and Men.

Ethan had read several Steinbeck books in the Applied Honors Literature class he took his senior year. Of Mice and Men was one of his favorites.

With the very first scene of the movie, Ethan began telling us about the characters, the sequence of what was going to happen, and why.

He was giving us a book review of a book he hadn't read in 9 years.

His memory is amazing.

As Ethan told us about the characters, I heard the compassion in his voice that I've heard from Ethan since he was a little boy. His compassion was for the character of Lenny, the mentally-handicapped gentle giant that literally loved his pets to death. I heard the compassion and respect that Ethan felt for the character of George, because George chose to love and protect his friend Lenny.

Ethan cheered for the characters the same way he cheered for them the first time he met them. Ethan laughed at the things he would have laughed at before his injury. He held back tears at the parts that would have touched his heart before.

Nothing had really changed.

He was still Ethan.

Right now Ethan can't walk. He can't live independently. He can't do most of the things he has always loved to do.

I wish he could.

But... the real Ethan is still with us.

The Ethan that the doctors had said was gone.

The Ethan that was gone... and the Ethan that God brought back.

And for that I am very, very thankful.

I will remember the works of the Lord.
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds.
Psalm 77:11-12

My Gratitude List

181. remembering what was lost
182. cherishing what was found
183. The One Who Gives Back
184. for six years and eight months
185. the book of Hosea
186. that God told Hosea to love his wife, regardless
187. that I'm that wife
188. seeing compassion in my children
189. the first time I opened my Bible and ask God to speak to me, and He did
190. an unexpected text message
191. help for a friend whose husband is in Afghanistan
192. sharing what God did one more time
193. a quiet afternoon alone with no time schedule
194. for tears that have kept my heart tender
195. knowing there's a way, when it seems there isn't one
196. a husband that forgives
197. a sister that wants me to do what's best for me
198. a family that knows I'm doing the best I can
199. that love covers a multitude of sin
200. Jim's corny one-liners that make us laugh again and again


  1. So thankful you still have Ethan. Thank you, Lord. Continue to work in his body to heal. Cheri, we didn't give up on Ethan after the doctor spoke those words. God did miracles then and he can continue to do them now.
    I love reading your blogs. You have an amazing gift that I so admire. God has blessed you even in your tough circumstances.

  2. ShiShe, whenever I read your posts, I'm not sure to thank you or be upset with you for invoking such great emotion. You share your story so well, and it touches me so deeply! You are strong, and I pray for you! Your journey is inspirational. I enjoy Ethan every time I see him, and feel so blessed that my children can know him, love him and talk with him!

  3. My heart is right with your family. Your words took me back to a rough morning when my sweet, lovely, disabled aunt threw a glass of milk across the kitchen in frustration at the prospect of another day of boredom. In time God gave us answers -- in different seasons, different answers. My gratitude this morning is for the creative care He provided and for the complete freedom of heaven my aunt is now enjoying.

    If you ever want to pick my brain about what worked for us, please e-mail: catelloyd@att.net. I've prayed for your family every day since I discovered your blog several months ago, and I will not stop. Love this day to all of you.

  4. Love that picture of Ethan. He was and still is so very very handsome. I LOVE Ethan. He is an inspiration to me.

  5. Thank you for reminding me once again to be thankful for what I have. Love you.

  6. This post was beautiful! God thinks Ethan is beautiful and so do I. Beautiful words!

    So glad I found your blog!