I had hoped that I could go home for Easter. Instead, I woke up in the same hospital bed I had slept in for 8 months at age 6 with polio.
A nurse came into my hospital room. With an encouraging smile, the nurse said what she thought was exciting news for me. She said that today was the big celebration of Easter at Hedgecroft Hospital.
All of the children like me would have a designated volunteer to push us in wheelchairs and rolling chaise lounges to hunt for eggs and candy. To top things off the Easter Bunny would be there to meet us in person.
The nurse tried her best to improve my spirits. But what she related was not Easter to me. Easter was searching for colorful eggs with my mom and dad and my sister and brother. Walking on my own two feet. Carrying my own Easter basket full of green grass and jellybeans. Dressing up in Easter white clothes my mommy sewed. Going to church with my nuclear family of faith. Listening to the choir and the beautiful sound of my mother’s voice singing hymns. Joining my grandparents, 22 aunts and uncles, and numerous cousins for the Emmott Family Easter Egg Hunt in the middle of our 100-acre wood.
The nurse bathed and fed me. Put on my best pajamas and lifted my 6-year-old body into the rolling chaise lounge. The nurse was followed by an attractive female volunteer whose sole mission was to make the event as light-filled, happy, and memorable for me as possible.
Despite my volunteer’s smile and exclamations for me to look at the decorations, at the other children hunting for eggs, and shaking the Easter Bunny’s soft gloved hands, I never smiled. I did not utter a single word. Instead of being on a chaise lounge, I might as well have been on a surfboard riding on the wave of the ocean of tears I shed that day.
Instead of standing at the foot of the Cross, I was the one being crucified by polio. How did I get there? Why was this happening to me? Why had I been abandoned? Why weren’t my mom and dad there? What remained of my innocence and life before polio died that day. My life was over.
What remained of me was in a tomb that held my wounds, my grief, my despair, and my pain. But what happened after that Good Friday-like day at Hedgecroft Hospital was followed by an Easter Sunday-like miracle. God transformed that time of death for me into a new and richer life. Just as Christ’s own crucifixion and death on Good Friday were followed by His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. The five wounds of Christ were healed as I was healed. As I am continuing to be renewed and healed to this day. A day at Hedgecroft decades ago that today I can share as part of God’s Good News. That life truly begins with a death of sorts. In Christ, life follows death.
God’s love, in prayer, in the care received from my parents, my doctors and surgeons, my educators, and my church moved the stone away from the tomb which held all the things I lost with polio. This is the same tomb that now holds the dead, wounded, and maimed people of Ukraine, the divorced and widowed, the sick and infirm, the hungry and the homeless, and those in hospice care at the end of their earthly lives. Even my death and yours are not the ends of our lives. It is just the beginning of our new and deeper spiritual lives in Heaven with the Father of all of us.
God has spoken to us in Scripture about life resurrected from death.
Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
Let us pray together.
Dear God, I thank You for the birth, death, and resurrection of Your blessed son, Jesus Christ.
I thank You for the forgiveness of my sins.
God, please open my faithful eyes to see the opportunity to live a deeper and richer life in You in the death of things and others in my world.
God, help me know that life begins with the death or loss of something and that one day my own death will be transformed into eternal life and love by You. Amen
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Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur, and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to the Bending Angel website.