Friday, May 9, 2008

Fragility of life

About 3 years ago, I attended a marriage in New York. It was one of the finest ceremonies I have seen where these two people in their youth came together with a lot of aspirations and dreams. With tears of joy they both read their wows to each other, frequently looking deep into each others eyes. Their parents and siblings stood next to them with pride, joy and mixed emotions.

After the ceremony, after lot of hugs and kisses among family members, we all traveled to a nearby hotel, one of the fine hotels in Long island for the dinner. There were a great number of people invited to attend this wonderful event of the most joyful day in this couple’s life. I watched them dancing, people wishing them all success and happiness, their parents standing there with tears of joy. The young man, Vice President of an IT division of a company in Manhattan, and the young lady, a lawyer in profession didn’t have much botherations or worries about the life ahead. All they had in mind was the upcoming honeymoon, life together in their own home and all the joy they are going to share in the intimacy of their relationship.

After 2 years of wonderful, joy-filled marriage, the wife was pregnant. The fact that she was carrying twins (boys) doubled their joy and excitement. Each doctor’s visit was so exciting for them, and on the first day they heard the heartbeat of their little ones in the womb, they almost exploded in limitless joy. Doctor gave them the heartbeat sound recorded in two different audio files, one of each boys. They sent the files to all their family members in email, sharing their excitement.

One day, the wife, 23 months pregnant felt an unusual discomfort in her tummy. Since her husband was on a business trip, she drove herself to the nearby hospital and they admitted her for checking. As the news came from the mouth of the doctor that she was having premature labor pains, she immediately called her husband who just landed in Florida for the next day conference. Without giving a second thought, he managed to get a return ticket to New York on the same day. To make things worse, her water broke and doctors suggested immediate abortion. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t even think about destroying their precious boys through abortion. Shattered, tired and confused, with the help of other family members they made a decision to continue the pregnancy, knowing fully well that there is a risk of infection for the mother since the water broke. She had to be on full bed rest, lying in an awkward position in all the discomfort, pain and emotional strain. She survived one week, thus reaching the magic 24 weeks pregnancy. Doctors started showing hope but they were still worried because the babies were still too tiny (less than a pound). The young couple counted each hour, day and night with all uncertainty, unpredictability, confusion and pain. The mother, in her pain made a comment, “these boys, in few hours taught me more than I have ever learned from my entire life”.

Well, they couldn’t go on like that for long. After couple more days, she had intense pain and the doctors had to perform an emergency cesarean. The tiny, fragile babies, weighing 1.7 and 1.4 pounds each were immediately moved into isolation. All the advanced technologies of medical science and expertise of world-class doctors were in place, to miraculously saving the two little lives. Prayers were requested and offered from many among the family and friends. Two days later, the condition of one of the boys was worsened; doctors gave a chance to the Dad and Mom to hold him in their hands during the last few hours of his life. Lying in his Dad’s hands he took his last breath.

I have no capability of writing the pain they went through because I have never been there. I don’t know how they survived. I don’t know what their spiritual condition is at this moment. I have no consolation to offer whatsoever. I am deeply saddened and confused. I am almost certain that no philosophies and bible verses work at this moment. The ability to have faith is shattered.

The second boy, weighing 1.4 pounds, already underwent a surgery and still fighting hard for his life. According to the doctors, he had brain damage in both the sides of his brain and 96% he is going to suffer from Cerebral palsy, a condition in which he require 24 hours human attention even after his survival.

The mother in the above story is my dear cousin. The little boy is still in hospital under the intense supervision of doctors and nurses. It is my desire and prayer that they get this child in good health. After reaching home from hospital, my cousin had infection at the surgery wound and had to be hospitalized again. Few days ago, I was told that she now fell from the stairs while walking down and broke her tailbone. I hesitate to give them a call, because I don't know what to tell them. There is no encouraging words coming from my mouth and now I am struggling with escapism.

The fragility and unpredictability of life is so real. This is what makes me to think about the temporal nature of life and our futile efforts in this planet. I don't know if I just throw up my hands into the air and give up all the efforts for being "success" in this world. What value such success has in the midst of unbearable pain? How ignorant I am when I give up the opportunities for love and compassion and constantly running to keep up with the clock? It wouldn't take more than a second to encounter the unpredictable in life. Are we prepared? Do we have a strong foundation on the Rock? Shouldn't we realize that, as long as life allows, we shouldn't forsake any opportunity to sharing the love of Christ with others?

Laying down the love of money, desire to be "successful", accumulating possessions, can we take moments of silence to think about the preciousness of the 'present moment' which God has given us? It is not the 'big' things what are important in life, rather it is the tiny things. A phone call to a hurting friend, a visit to the sick, a hug to the weary, a little time of childlike laughter with our kids, moments of silence in the busyness of our life are the things critical.

Jesus, through whom all things were created, having a friendly, compassionate talk probably for hours with an women at the well who was rejected by the society and considered immoral and outcast. This is a story which touches my heart. Who is talking to her? The promised Messiah, God of the universe, the God who created everything seen and unseen, even the star which is 26 trillion miles away from earth but still visible to our naked human eyes. Can we slow down just like He did? Can we stop measuring the time we spend for others, loving them and sharing the hurts and joy? Can we spot the tiny, little, but important things in life and ask God to use us to extend His love? That is my own prayer. His love reminds me of such in the midst of my ignorance.

4 comments:

Joel Brueseke said...

Bino,

This is a very touching story. My prayers are indeed with your cousin and her husband, and the boy.

Also... it's true... our lives in this body are fragile and unpredictable. We never know what may happen next, and our only true and stable foundation is Jesus.

I was just commenting on another blog that my physical ailments that could lead to premature death (death sooner than I'd like, anyway) have caused me to cling more and more to my Daddy and less and less to the things of this world.

But yet I have to admit that I've found that when everything seems to be ok, and my condition (my Barrett's Esophagus) isn't giving me any noticeable problems, or hasn't worsened each time I get the test results, then I sometimes find myself caring more about the things of the world again and less about the things of the kingdom. In that respect, I'd say the symptoms and results of the fragility of my life have been the very things that have led me deeper into the arms of Abba. That is, when I'm truly faced with life's fragility, that's when I draw near to God... and over time that has been a real good thing.

I think what I'm trying to say is that you've really hit on something here. It's when conditions in our lives bring us to the end of our selves... that is when we begin to reject the love of money, success, etc, and we begin to embrace the 'little' things that really matter.

Nicole said...

Bino!

Wow, what an incredible story of your cousin and her family! It never ceases to amaze me how horrible things can happen in an instant, however, through that Father seems to get to our hearts in the midst of it! At least I believe that is why things happen the way that they do sometimes!

Know that my prayers and thoughts are for your cousins and family during this time!

In Freedom, Nicole!

Aida said...

Bino, I almost hesitate to comment because I don't really know what to say. This story has touched me deeply and has encouraged me to remember to focus on the things that are really important. It's easy to forget and to get caught up in the things that don't have eternal importance. Stories like this help to bring my focus back where it belongs.

My prayers are also with your cousin and her family.

Aida

Bino Manjasseril said...

Joel,
Lack of my foreknowledge plays a crucial role in my life to cling to my Father.
If my future is secured and predictable, I become prideful. I don't know why!
So, like you, it is those weaknesses what keep us connected to Him. That may be the reason why Apostle Paul said, he will boast all the more in his weakness.

Thank you for the prayers!

Nicole,
My wife received the following comment from one of her friend: (She is talking about her daughter who suffers from severe food allergy (life threatening))

But she (her 3 year old daughter) could not sleep till 3 AM yesterday. Very itchy and breathing problems.
I am a better person because of her. I have learned to be thankful for everything God has given me
and not complain about anything. I learned it from her.


Thank you for the prayers!

Aida,
...and has encouraged me to remember to focus on the things that are really important.
That is exactly what it does to me as well. I need constant reminder to get my wandering (worldly) mind back to realities of life and the things what are of eternal significance.

Thank you for your prayers!