Humor me for a moment won’t you? Close your eyes… WAIT, not yet! Read this first. Close your eyes, take a slow breath and think back to yesterday. Keep your finger on the rewind button until you get to blank tape, then hit play. What is your earliest memory? Okay, you can open your eyes.
One of my girlfriends told me that our earliest memories tend to be like snapshots, just glimpses into our past. It’s not until we’re older that our memories become more like little movies. So what are those snapshots you have stored away? Birthday parties? Great Aunt Edna’s mothball scented sweater? Maybe memories of your Woobie or beloved Binky? Some of us I’m sure have snapshots that aren’t as pleasant. That’s where I’m going to start today. My earliest snapshots aren’t necesarily happy ones. Hang on, don’t leave just yet. I promise this isn’t going to be depressing. Rather, I think my snapshots speak of miracles.
These all come from the same year of my life but I don’t know exactly what order they go in. There’s a snapshot of a nurse’s station where I’m sitting behind the counter with the nurses and they’re letting me color with their magic 4-color pen. Another of a nurse checking on the babies in the NICU. Yet another of me sitting in a hospital bathtub playing with Rub-a-Dub-Dub Three Men in a Tub while a nurse uses a pitcher to rinse my hair. And finally a snapshot of the playroom in the children’s ward where I’m showing my parents which toys I like to play with.
I spent a great deal of time in the hospital between my first and second birthday. Those memories are firmly etched in brain and I recall them not with sadness or dread but with a thankfulness of God’s grace. That year I had pneumonia eleven times. The doctors performed many tests – some of them painful – which I am thankful I cannot recall. Their diagnosis was cystic fibrosis. As an adult, and now as a mother, I can only imagine how devistating that news was to my parents. My mom tells me how long and how hard she prayed. The final confirming test was done at the University. It came back negative. So my earliest memories are tied to God’s healing and to His grace.
Fast forward a few years. I think I was about four. My family had driven a couple hours across Minnesota to visit my paternal grandma. She lived alone in an older home in a small town. That night my family enjoyed a fire in the basement fireplace. My parents and my brother and sister slept in the two bedrooms downstairs while I slept upstairs with my Grandma. The snapshot I have is of waking up early in the morning and peeking out through the bedroom door and seeing my mom sobbing and seeing paramedics in the living room. The ambulance took my parents away and my brother, sister and I stayed behind. I had no idea what had happened. I don’t know when I finally found out that the flue on the fireplace was broken. During the night carbon monoxide filled the basement. My dad got my brother and sister out and barely got my mom upstairs. When the paramedics arrived they didn’t have the necesary equipment to test their blood levels but they did give them oxygen. At the hospital, hours later, they finally tested my mom’s blood. She had enough carbon monoxide still in her that she should have been dead. That day, the reason for the trip to my Grandma’s house…. it was Easter morning.
Sure I have the typical snapshot memories of all the kid stuff in my life. But it’s the ones like those that are woven throughout my life that remind me of who I am. And more importantly who He is.