On Anniversaries

Some days of the year are not equal. Just when Spring reaches an undeniable fullness, when the newness of life is palpable, just near the end of April--the 21st to be exact--our minds and our senses are flooded with reminders of death. The smell of the ICU room's hand soap. The feel of the cracked vinyl seats in the waiting area. The rhythmic, mechanical exhalation of the life support machine. The sight of my wife, moments before so vibrant, then reduced to a battered, bruised, and swollen mound of flesh. Today, the brightest sky outside seems a bit overcome with an unexpected rain cloud rolling in from nowhere, just like every year.

6 years ago today, right about now, Katherine nearly died--out of the clear blue. Despite her "resurrection" of sorts, many other things died that day. And yet, in a very sobering way, life is a series of these little deaths, calling us to really live.

Those days, those anniversaries, rip through the flesh of our stories and wound us deeply. They create a line of demarcation, a scar, between a life that is and one that will never be. 

If we expect time to heal all wounds, then what are we to do with the scars that remain? 

Our scars have not faded all that much over 6 years, and honestly, they probably won't fade much more over 60 years. No amount of reconstruction and healing can ever bind together flesh or make it whole, the way it was before, but perhaps that is the point. We are not to forget, even when we want nothing more than to do just that. Maybe it's by our scars that we track the real boundary lines of our lives and find that they are good.

When Christ re-appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, his perfect body still bore the scars that had saved us all. Perhaps his will be the only scars in heaven, but I wonder if our own scars, both without and within, might be on full display in our future, perfected bodies too, as holy reminders of the pains of life that brought us home. 

One day we will see. One day the arc of our stories will all make perfect sense. One day we will trace the lines of our scars and find them to have fallen in the most pleasant of places, to see in them our great inheritance. Until then, we will look up at the calendar and on those certain combinations of letters and numbers our stomachs will still flutter and our hearts will still feel a bit heavier. And that's OK. 

And for us, when this day ends and the next day begins, the smell of death will have wafted away on a breeze of new life, and we will remember why we are still here, and we will get out of bed and we will try to really live.