We have lost many things in this pandemic. Some of them needed to go. Others tore out a portion of our peace in the leaving. Some of our assumptions are weakening; things like optimism for the future and a confidence that everything will return to normal. Other losses serve to grant us perspective and teach us gratitude.
Every night as I tuck Ben into bed, I lay my hand on his chest to pray. I used to ask God to help him sleep, and to help him to obey and to be happy the next day. But now, as I lay my hand on him and he closes his eyes, my focus has narrowed to simple gratitude for another day of life, for the provision and protection that has been granted to us this day.
I lay my hand on Ben’s chest, over the scar where a surgeon opened up his chest to patch his heart together, and I remember the quiet fear; the awareness of machines monitoring his every heartbeat and tiny breath. The desperation amidst the wires and tubes and blinking lights. I remember those days and know how precious each breath can be.
The future is not assured for Ben; if he were to catch this virus, he might not survive it. So as I lay my hand on his chest in the darkness, it is with a deeper understanding of how much of a gift it is to be given one more day of petty annoyances and long hugs in the kitchen and the excitement of a trip to Dairy Queen after supper.
We know intellectually that none of us is promised tomorrow, and yet it’s easy to forget when we are accustomed to presuming upon the future, and our days seem strung together like an endless chain of daisies into the distance.
Sometimes it takes a tragedy to upend our assumptions. The death of a classmate, a frightening diagnosis or a near-miss on the highway serve as harsh reminders that we too often take for granted this miracle of living. This pandemic has the same effect on those of us who are, or who are close to, those who are particularly vulnerable.
Let Covid remind us to be grateful for life and love. For the privilege of existence.
I lay my hand on Ben’s chest, feel the rise and fall of his breathing, thankful that God sees us here in Ben’s bedroom, has already numbered our days, and will supply the grace we need for whatever tomorrow brings.