A Breath of Fresh Air

The sun was shining brightly on the roof of Levine Children’s Hospital. Just to be able to bring Tanner into the outside air was a gift. In a period of 5 days, he had gone from having cardiac arrest to sitting in a wheel chair wearing a Panther’s hat signed by 4 Carolina Panther’s football players, and a candy necklace around his neck given by hospital volunteers. Showered with love and affection in tangible gifts. And now, showered in sunlight surrounded by a fresh wind blowing gently. He wasn’t the only one who was finally breathing again.

I couldn’t have been more thankful as I sat behind the wheel chair of my 13 year old son. We had almost lost him, and we knew it. It was such a gift to see life as you know it almost torn away, to experience the pain and loss, and despair, and then to have that gift just given back. The experience makes the awareness of the gift so much greater.

I wrote a song years ago. It’s called “A Gift”
It goes,

It is a gift
to laugh to love, to hunger and to cry
It is a gift
to search, to know, to wonder, and to try
It is a gift
to feel, to hurt, to long, to question why
It is a gift, it is a gift
to be alive

The rain on my face, a hand in my hand
A child’s quick embrace, the feeling of my toes in the sand
The stars that I see, the dreams inside of me
It is a, such a great gift to be alive

(chorus)

The joys in the journey, the pain along the way
The choice to persist when the goal is so far away
The faith that there’s more to this life than meets the eye
The faith that I’m part of God’s Grande Design

The sun on my back, the light in my eyes
The rain in the Springtime, the growth in my life
Dormant days of winter, the times to renew
The beauty, the colors, the joys of knowing You!

It is a gift
To laugh, to love, to hunger, and to cry
It is a gift
To search, to know, to wonder, and to try,
It is a gift
To feel, to hurt, to long, to question why
It is a….such a great
gift to be alive!

So that was the song. It was written years ago when life seemed a bit simpler. And I meant the words. I really did. Even the part about knowing that the pain in our lives can be a gift. But now I understand that more deeply. The heights of our joys can often be commensurate with the depths of our sorrows. And the depth of our faith often deepens and is enriched by things that we would never choose. But we move forward, moment by moment, and enjoy. And somehow the simple things like sunlight and an autumn breeze are more appreciated than we could have ever imagined.

Tanner had gone from being a healthy (or so we thought) 13 year old, to laying in a hospital bed on a ventilator in an induced coma. His heart had stopped for over 5 minutes. He had had prolonged seizures, and it is a miracle that he is alive. People at every turn rallied and made all the difference in his recovery. He is now walking, talking, and being so very 13! We have since found out that he has CPVT, a heart condition which can cause cardiac arrest. He is being treated, and we’re all moving forward. But despite all of the medical bills, time, energy spent at the hospital, our family is better for it. Because somehow, we all see that each day is a gift.

I tell my kids so often that things are a “gift and not a given.” We don’t know how long we’re here. And now, it’s not just words. We KNOW it. We have SEEN how quickly things can be taken. And we have felt the incredible grace of having precious gifts returned to us. Each day, person, is a gift. Not a given. Every breath, every ray of sunlight, every fresh breeze blowing can be received as a gift. And the joy comes in how we receive. To receive as a gift, we must have eyes wide open to see. May we have eyes to see the gifts in our lives.