Two weeks ago, we welcomed our fifth grandchild. A boy. That makes it four boys, one girl, but we have another girl on the way, due in less than a month. Total, in case you stink at Math like I do, will be six grandchildren.
Quite the feat for a forty-five year old, eh? (That’s supposed to be funny, because it’s true.)
I’ve been able to be present for each grandchild’s arrival into this sometimes hideous awful world. I cry every time one is born, even though I don’t know why. I’m never thinking anything in particular that might cause one to break out in a full-fledged Snoopy wail, but somewhere, deep down in my diaphragm, things get all shaky and tingly, like I’m on the best roller coaster ride of my life, and when the baby wails it’s first wail? I, as they say these days, can’t even.
Can’t even keep the joy in.
Can’t even keep the tears in.
Can’t even believe that little wrinkly-skinned human has been placed in our care.
Can’t even believe how blessed we are.
Can’t even express how elated I am that everyone is okay.
Can’t even stop wondering (okay, worrying) how all of us imperfect, sinful people, will bring the wee one up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Can’t even believe how it feels when my little people make little people.
Can’t even believe I ever went through pregnancy, labor, and postpartum (how strong I must have been).
Life is to be cherished. Treated as the gift it is. And yet … Las Vegas, you guys. We keep seeing incidences where, because hate consumes a person, he or she opens fire and ends lives upon lives in a span of a few minutes. It’s mind boggling. Soul shaking. Emotionally jarring.
Now that it happens so frequently, one might think we would be accustomed to it. But we aren’t.
Not in active shooter situations.
In abortion facilities, however, we are not only accustomed to massacres. We condone them. We throw cash at them. We certainly don’t actively oppose them. Many times, we don’t even speak of them.
Can you imagine a mass murder taking place in America without speaking of it? Las Vegas will be the talk of American towns for weeks and weeks to come. But somehow, the hidden massacres of little people remain hidden. Largely forgotten. Sometimes never discussed. Never aired. The victims don’t even receive a proper burial. They’re simply discarded into a waste bucket or sold off for their micro, but perfectly formed, body parts.
It devastates me. Breaks me. Angers me.
I can’t even.
Can’t even fathom the scene.
Can’t even begin to understand the mind and heart of the “doctor” who has pledged the Hippocratic oath and defies it every day.
Can’t even picture the Mom, highly drugged, or worse, wide awake while her child is being massacred.
Can’t even understand why, after 44 years, massacring the innocent is still legal.
Can’t even imagine what it’s like to try and cope after knowing I’ve ended my child’s life.
Can’t even (or ever!) fully thank my Mom for not killing me, because she had every opportunity. Not many in today’s world would have blamed her. She was eighteen and my brothers were one and two years old. Her and Dad divorced while I was in utero. They would get remarried when I was two, but she didn’t know that. She was young. In many ways alone, with no college education and soon to be three babies. But she refused the money offered to her by a wannabe suitor for a trip to Denver “where they take care of these types of problems.” She stood up for life by saying “Absolutely not. Get out of my house.” Then she allowed me to grow and take up space in her body. She let me flourish. She let me blossom in her womb. She fed herself well and thereby fed me well. Later, she clothed and fed me more, more, more. Raised me like I was no burden at all, because in her heart, she knew I was not merely a clump of cells that wasn’t fully human until I breathed air. I was her baby. Her offspring. Her gift and her blessing. The fact that her life was difficult and would become more difficult once I arrived didn’t change my humanity, and she stood her ground by saying “No. This is my body and the body of my child. And you, sir, will not pay for anyone to touch either of them.”
So last but not least …
I can’t even wait until she arrives at my place tomorrow, now that I’ve taken a three month respite in caring for her. She has Parkinson’s, and is now what many Americans would call a burden. She’s often depressed and moody. She doesn’t drive. She still eats a lot and is rather picky about her food. She hardly ever sleeps through the night. She worries incessantly. She needs to be taken to the doctor, the store, the bank, the salon, and Christmas shopping, so she can spend entirely too much money on me and my grandkids. She often seems angry but she’s really just fighting a wicked and cruel disease.She’s also incredibly giving. She’s funny. She’s spunky. She’s my prayer warrior. And she gave me life. I believe I was conceived in love, carried to full term in love, and will be loved until she takes her last breath and beyond, into eternity. In Heaven, she will probably still pray for me, and since she won’t be able to give me money directly, she will incessantly plead with the Lord to wire some down. And she will win. Because she always wins the money argument.
What I’ve been describing is the cycle of life. Mom gave life to me, I gave it to my daughters, who are now giving it to their children. All while my Mom sits by and loses her life at a snail’s pace and we all help and honor her as we let life play out God’s way. In God’s good timing.
Giving life is hard. Sustaining life is hard. Dying is hard. Many people simply put their parents in a nursing home to rot in their own feces and urine while they go on living their fancy, fast-paced, comfortable, even extravagant lives. This country no longer values life, or self-sacrificial living. In America, abortion is legal. Euthanasia is becoming more widely accepted. Harmful religious ideologies are embraced and acted out in the form of heartless, gruesome, mass murders. And until we, as a culture, begin to value life from conception until natural last breath, we will continue seeing mass shootings. Terror attacks. Behind the scenes, “acceptable” murders that we put fancy names to in order to ease our consciences.
As for weapons being the guilty party. No weapon has ever jumped out of a holster of its own volition and committed murder. There’s always a soul enveloped by a body behind the weapon, and it’s what’s going on in that soul that is the problem. We no longer need to look outside ourselves to figure out the problem. For it is what’s inside that is snuffing out precious life.
By the outcome of the last Presidential election, it’s safe to say a good number of us want to make America great again. But being great is not about electing a brash, angry person to do what we can’t. It’s about ceasing to look outward at our neighbor, and instead looking inward at our own hearts, and upward to the Savior who can and will do for us what we could never do for ourselves. That is, save our wretched souls, and deeply instill His values in our hearts.
Job, when his entire slew of children died in one day, said The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. That spirit, that heart attitude, is the cure for mass murders. Recognizing as a culture that life is God’s to give and God’s to take, not ours. And in the meantime, trusting Him to provide for us as we honor the life He gives (Luke 12:22-31) and blessing His name in the midst of His timeline when it comes to matters of life and death.
I have my own chronic, painful, often debilitating illness. I regularly wonder how I will take care of Mom, especially if her illness is long and drawn out. I am not in a much better position than she was when she decided to value my life above hers. For me, life is tough. Life is (literally) a pain. But back in 1972, just before Roe v. Wade, she showed me what it is to sacrifice self. To trust God to give her the means, the energy, the time, and the desire to care for a helpless person who wouldn’t and couldn’t contribute to the household.
I am simply returning the favor, as best I can. Partly because I love her. Partly because I love God. Partly out of duty. Partly out of obedience. Mostly because with God’s help, I have come to value all life, whether it’s a life just conceived, just born, maimed, ill, handicapped, or nearing an end.
The Lord gives life. The Lord takes life. The Lord sustains through life. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Make America great again? I say make the value of life great again, and in doing so, make America great (and safer!) again.
Logging off now, because the dryer is buzzing. Mom’s bedding is ready to be placed on her bed so she has a welcoming place to rest after a hard road trip.
Welcome home, Mom, until it’s your day to enter your eternal home.