Resurrection Sunday in the ICU

I haven’t written here for a long time, but today I have too many words for a social media micro-post.

My reasons for writing are two-fold: 1) to update folks who love Titus and care about our family and 2) to reflect on Christ’s resurrection while my son is unconscious, intubated, with nodes all over his head and IVs in both arms lying in an ICU bed.

First, the practical update. Titus has been having more seizures this year. He’s had three in the last 8 weeks. This morning I was up early getting a special breakfast ready and everyone was sleeping soundly. By 7:30am, everyone was up and going except for Titus, which is a little unusual, but not unheard of. When he did wake up, he told me from his bed that he needed to throw up. Again, that’s not unheard of and doesn’t mean he’s sick–he throws up a fair amount from any kind of agitation in his mouth. Tom checked on him and he seemed to go back to sleep which is more unusual. I checked on him about 10 minutes later, at 8am, and he was having a seizure and there was vomit all over.

We gave him his emergency meds and they seemed to help a little, but he was still seizing, just in a more mild way, if that makes sense. We called the nurse line and determined we should stay home for now. By 8:40 he fell asleep, but still seemed to maybe be seizing while he slept? It was hard to tell. In a great juxtaposition, while he was on the couch sleeping (seizing?), the kids were all wearing their most cheerful, best clothes, enjoying homemade croissants and danishes, a fancy table, and Keith Green’s The Easter Song. I made my coffee while one of the kids stayed by Titus. I was thinking to myself that if he recovered quickly, he and I might still be able to join the rest of the family at my parents later in the afternoon.

At 9am he woke up and was in a full on seizure–clearly not doing so well (lips were blue, skin pale). We called the nurse line again and they told us to bring him to the ER. Tom and I got him loaded in the car–me in the backseat with Titus, carefully holding his head. When we arrived, his oxygen wasn’t good, so it was pretty hectic with nurses and doctors having to talk extra loud with masks and repeat themselves over and over (that is one irritation I have with masks in the hospital–it is very difficult to communicate quickly and clearly–and when it’s an emergency situation, it matters).

After a bit of time trying to get the seizure stopped and get his breathing better, they decided he’d have to be intubated and sedated. As we walked from the ER floor to the ICU floor, the doctor noted that he’d been seizing for three hours, or perhaps off and on (but mostly on) for three hours. So, here we are–he’s getting an overnight EEG to watch for seizure activity and an MRI tomorrow morning.

The strange dissonance of the morning’s celebratory music, decadent food, and my royal blue dress bursting with flowers set against my little boy’s blue lips and pale face, his convulsing body and soiled clothes, has been swirling in my mind all day. Who is the real Jesus? Is he robed in purple, feasting, conquering, and triumphing? Or is he lowly and despised–body broken, blood spilled, rejected by men? It’s not that hard of a question really. We all should know the answer is yes. He is both. If you try to have one without the other, you do not have Jesus as he’s revealed himself in the Scripture–but a figment of your mind–a delusion of your own desires. Some only want lowly Jesus–a validation of their sorrows. Some only want triumphant Jesus–a validation of their successes.

Yet, even for those of us who refuse to pigeon hole Jesus into either the Suffering Servant only or the Triumphant Savior only, those who seek to uphold all he says he is–the Lion and the Lamb, the Warrior and the Peacemaker and everything else he is–it can be difficult to live in that tension with our feet on the ground. It’s bizarre to hear the click of your fancy high-heeled church shoes echo down the halls of the hospital while you follow behind your son’s gurney and keep checking the machine that is breathing for him. It’s strange to sit by a hospital bed with flowers bursting off the dress that covers your lap–intended as a celebration of the new life found in Christ–while your son’s life is so fragile.

But, I don’t want it any other way. Meaning, I want the real Jesus. I want him on his terms. I’ve tried him on mine and he’s impotent, because he isn’t real–not the real God-man who lived 2000 years ago and died and was raised to life. I want Jesus as he is revealed from Genesis to Revelation–the Maker of all things, foretold, foreshadowed, and finally appearing. The One who had everyone on their heels time and again, because He spoke with authority–of course he did–he was and is the Author. I want the Risen and Reigning Christ who is, right now, seated at God’s right hand, putting all his enemies under his nail-scarred feet. I want the life in Christ that Paul had, “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” (2 Cor 6:10). Don’t you want that? Don’t you want him? Don’t you want a steadfast and sure hope and anchor for the worst days?

Spending Resurrection Sunday in this ICU room with my son is terrible. But also, glorious. And it can be both of those things, because Jesus is Lord over it all. Over disease and death, over sunrise and sunset, over hopes deferred and hopes fulfilled, over celebrations and lamentations. Why? Because the Lord is risen. The Lord is risen, indeed.