You think you’re prepared for your child to go back for surgery until they wheel them away. I remember walking away from the nurse with Kristen as they took Henry to the operating room and feeling helpless. The best cleft surgeon, with the best cleft team, were about to have Henry in their care for the next few hours, and while there was comfort in their abilities, we were still anxious. We wondered what he would look like when we saw him a few hours later. We were told he wouldn’t look like our son. His smile would be different, his face would be different, but it was him. “You’ll miss his cleft!” They would tell us. And while we wondered how it could be true, It was. Henry’s cleft was uniquely him, and we fell in love with his crooked smile and the three months we spent with it.
Here we are six months post-op, and we go in for his second surgery today. (Tuesday, November 9th) Today they will be making corrections to Henry’s palate, as well as putting tubes in his ears. We have been told this will be the most difficult in terms of recovery and are as prepared as we can be for what’s next. People have asked me if we are anxious about this step in the journey, the answer is yes, but for me, it isn’t for the reason you would expect. I am anxious because when we get to recovery today, I know I will see the face I’ll never forget.
No one can prepare you for the face you see when they wake up from surgery. It’s been six months since I saw it. Yet, if I close my eyes, I could tell you exactly what it looks like… helpless fear. Henry’s anesthesia was wearing off; he was alone on his bed, nurses at his sides, parents at his feet, face swollen, mouth bloodied, arms restrained, tubes and monitors hooked up, and eyes full of fear. And there was nothing we could do to fix it. At that moment, Kristen and I would have changed places with him in a heartbeat if we could have. I remember thinking, “Buddy, If only you knew what we know.”
What we knew that he didn’t was that one day, when his life is over, this brief moment of suffering will be nothing but a few sentences in the narrative of his story. Whether it was six months ago, or when we get to him in recovery today and come face to face with that helpless fear again, we know that something better is coming. We know that Dr. Williams and his team are a tool the Lord is using to improve the quality of Henry’s life. It is about to change everything for him. The way he eats, communicates, speaks, and hears will all be improved in a matter of a few hours today, but before he can experience the joy of being made whole, he must know the pain of his present reality. If only he knew what we knew… there may be pain, there may be fear, you may feel helpless, but son, I promise you, healing is coming, better is coming, and we will be here with you, every step of the way.
Maybe you’ve figured out by now that this is more than telling you Henry has surgery this morning and asking you to pray for him, his doctors, and his recovery. It’s a promise that wherever you find yourself today if you place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, there is a promise that better is coming. But before you can know the joy of being made whole, you must know the pain of your present reality. You may not know right now what God is doing, but soon you will. And even in your present reality, there is a promise that God will use even this for his glory, your good, and the good of others. God is still in the miracle business. He turns mourning to dancing, darkness to light, and death to life. You may not understand now, but soon… you will.