It’s crazy to think how busy I was just two months ago, before Ezekiel died. I almost never had a moments rest. When we were at home in between missionary ministries, and once all the house work was done, I was still running around like a chicken with its head chopped off. As most mothers and fathers of an 18 month old can attest to, there is almost no moment when you can say that all your work is finished. There is a constant string of picking up after the child, wiping noses, wiping rear-ends, preparing food, giving food, cleaning up faces, hands and hair once they have finished eating, not to mention cleaning up the food from the floor, chair and walls that was invariably thrown on all surrounding objects. We also were blessed with not having easy access to sippy cups, so even though our 18 month old was proficient at drinking from a cup without a lid, his skill in no way negated the fun of pouring every last drop of beverage out all over everywhere when he was done. The minute he left his seat he would run outside to go play in the dirt. Your should have seen his clothes- the hours I spent to trying to get the dirt out! When we were out doing our ministries, having stressed and rushed out the door after making sure everything was packed in the diaper bag (Lord forbid that we would have forgotten Ezekiel’s pacifier!), I would end up chasing after the little rascal for at least half the service, or trying to act as a strait-jacket for the little stinker while he struggled to get free.
As a matter of fact, when I look back on his life, I realize that from the time of his birth and for the whole time he was here with us (shoot, even the pregnancy and delivery), was just like one big huge chore. It was sooooo much more work. I never seemed to be able to find that sacred “me” time that everyone seems to say is necessary. I did find time to pray after everyone went to sleep or during nap time, and most often I had to say to myself that since my prayer time was more important, all the chores that I hadn’t yet finished would just have to be put off until my prayer time was over. I was always so busy I almost never even had time to check Facebook!
Now, when all the children have gone to school, we go to our ministries and I can fully participate. If we are at home, I have time after the chores are done to read a book, or pray, or even draw! I have time to do. . . whatever I choose. Many times I just sit with a cup of coffee (that’s still HOT even!) and think about just how much work I used to have and how much easier my life is now, with so little to do. And this thought always brings me to tears . . . ALWAYS. I am crying even as I write these words. How can it be that I liked my life so much before Ezekiel died when all that has changed really, is that I now have more free time; more “ME” time? It’s not like Ezekiel was old enough to tell me how much he loved me. He barely spoke. He could not do things for me. He did not give me flowers or draw me pictures like my other children. The sweetest things he could do for me were limited to smiling at me, or laughing at things he thought were silly. He had just started trying to kiss us, if you could call it kissing. He would make a popping sound with his lips and either proceeding this sound or immediately following it head-butt us. And that’s about it as far as his showing us affection went. He was incapable of doing much more than just demanding our attention, our time, our effort, our love.
And herein lies what God has revealed to me, in a powerful way, is the meaning of life: To love. We have heard this a billion times, but I don’t know if we always let the meaning of this sink in as deeply as it should. We are called to LOVE. What does that even mean? Love is action. Love is a choice. Love is hard. Love is sacrifice. Love is relational–it requires another. The reason why God is Trinitarian is because God is love, and love cannot exist without another! Jesus exemplified this by giving his life, literally to the point of death, because he loved us!
This realization is yet one more beautiful gift the Lord has given us not only since Ezekiel died, but because he died. I know the hurt of no longer having this object of my love. It is painful, and it is profound. I don’t know if I would have been able to come to understand this depth of meaning if I had lost an older child. There is a real beauty and blessing in being able to love another, EVEN IF THEY CAN NOT RETURN YOUR LOVE! We should not “love another” if it is for what we will receive in return. Can we even call that real love? Love is what gives our life its meaning. It is what gives our life its fullness. If all I ever did all day was give of myself to another I would be the happiest person alive! For the whole of Ezekiel’s short life I chose to give myself to him because I loved him and I was so happy because of the love I chose to give to him.
Now, after his death, I can see in such a real way that this is the calling we all have: to choose to love others, to forget about ourselves and our wants (though we often call them our needs!) and to give and give without counting the costs. As a matter of fact, the greatest comfort I find now, while grieving the loss of our beautiful boy, is doing things for others. I can find happiness when my actions can bring happiness and comfort to others. It is when I sit at home trying to enjoy my “me time” that I am most sad because I am consumed with thinking about myself and my loss. My life was made to be given away! Mother Teresa said, “I have found the paradox, if you love until it hurts, there is no more hurt, only more love.” I now truly know what this means and it is the summary of our vocation for our life on earth. I challenge you all as well as myself—Let us seek to love and love and love until it hurts because it is there that we will be completely happy!!!!