A Gaze Toward Heaven June 01 2015, 2 Comments
In the acuteness of my grief, in the immediate weeks following Bryer's death, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and relief. The suffering had come to an end and he was in glory. I felt his memorial service was a celebration of his eternal life and the Hope we have in Jesus. To many it was an introduction to Bryer and summary of his earthly life. I remember smiling more than I cried that day.
Oh I deeply missed him, but the freshness of his hellish suffering, especially towards the end, was still too close to have wished him back. And the peace that had consumed me during his last breaths seemed to powerfully linger.
In those first few weeks, I felt myself recuperating physically from severe sleep deprivation and the deep anxiety and stress that had produced not so pleasant physical ramifications.
The service was behind us and we were settling back into a normal pace of living. I thought, ok I am doing pretty darn well. I existed in this cloud of engulfing peace. So you can imagine how shook-to-the-core I was when I experienced my first Post Traumatic Stress event. It was as if a powerful and most terrifying monster had reached up through cracks in the floor boards, and with blackened, long-nailed hands, grabbed my ankles and pulled me down into a torturous sea of images and movie-like scenes from Bryer's most terrible bouts of suffering. Each time it seemed that there was one "feature film" that was on display. They would bombard my mind, my eyes, my heart and sear my soul with his suffering. I couldn't escape it. It completely took over. I couldn't breathe at times. My heart pounded out of my chest and I'd heave and sob at the horror as if it were happening for the first time.
I was so taken back. "Why is this happening, Lord? I have your peace. You gave it to me!"
It was time to grieve his suffering. All the traumatic events of his life...and there were a lot. I hadn't fully dealt with them in real time. I couldn't break then, but boy was I breaking now.
I prayed through it. I said the name of Jesus over and over again until the images subsided and my breathing and heaving slowed. The enemy was attacking and trying to steal my peace. I battled back with truth and the power of His name. I turned to scripture.
During the several months of these random battles, I feel as though God revealed something to me. Let's see if I can explain this.
One day, I was scrolling through pictures of Bryer on my phone as I tended to do. One that I had looked at many times made me stop and gazed a little longer. It was a picture of him during one of 36 + hours where sleep was traded for thrashing, screaming, moaning, whimpering and seizing (August 22, 2013). He would not and could not rest.
He had become still for a rare few moments and I snapped this photo. I recall those hours with tears in my eyes. We were in one of the top Pediatric ICU's in the country, and not to their fault, but nobody seemed to be able to help. I have never felt more helpless and insufficient as a mother.
As I looked at the picture this time, however, this conversation popped into my mind.
Bryer with a gaze towards heaven, "Daddy, I am so tired and weak. I want the rest and peace I know is with you. How much longer?"
God answered, "Bryer, my sweet boy. I love you so much! It won't be much longer. Sweet child of mine, hold on. I am coming to rescue you, but there's still more purpose left in your time on earth! There is still more I have to teach your Mommy and Daddy." (more on that another time)
Now, did that conversation really happen? Maybe not. But it occurred to me that it COULD HAVE. It was put on my heart that I had no idea this side of heaven how the God of the Universe comforted Bryer during all those times that I anguish and grieve over. I have no idea how He communicated with him….soothed him. By touch? Sight? Sound? Smell? Angels? I prayed for it continuously, so why wouldn't He have answered? I prayed Bryer would feel held even when we weren't there. That he would be comforted, protected and feel secure. That love and peace would permeate his body into the crevices where my love and touch could not reach.
Did he experience pain, of course. Did he suffer, yes. But, I believe God was a buffer, perhaps softening it more than I know or could see. Or if not in that way, by being WITH Bryer in ways I cannot comprehend.
"He holds the whole world in His hands. I'm holding onto His promises. He is faithful. He is faithful." Lyrics of a song I often sang to Bryer.
Yes, our God is faithful like that.
Try as I may, I couldn't be Bryer's all-in-all, but God could. Bryer had many limitations. His eyes were failing. His hearing was imperfect. His brain proved to be deteriorating perhaps not allowing recognition by any means towards the end. But GOD isn't limited in His ability at anything, let alone finding a way to comfort and reveal His presence to my baby boy.
Thank you, Lord, for putting that on my heart. It has comforted me ever since.