For some reason Easter weekend is really painful for me now. It's as if Andrew's suffering was a visual for me of Christ's suffering, and I can't stop crying. On the one hand, the pain is so awful at times, it is like the pain could turn me inside-out. And on the other hand, I feel privileged to have a special visual insight into what Christ suffered, at least physically, for our sin.
This week, as Andrew's parents came to visit for Gracie's fourth birthday and took us out for dinner, I kept remembering Andrew's last supper. His parents had taken Andrew, the kids, and I to Wildfire where Andrew ate a large steak for his last meal that he was ever able to enjoy through his mouth before his 2nd major surgery. Andrew LOVED food. I remember how loud the table of 3 next to us was, hardly taking any breaths between all their words the entire time we were there, while our table was almost completely silent. Incredible hollowness and lonliness nearly ate through me. Imagine the apostles' confusion at Jesus' last supper when their best Friend and Lord said to them, "Where I am going, you cannot go."
I remember the next morning at 5am while it was still dark, leaving for his surgery, which in many ways, is when my Andrew left me. I remember he opened the door of the mudroom and stepped down to the garage. I grabbed the door after him and saw the back of his head and his blue and grey Helly Hansen jacket that we had bought together in Washington to shield him from the daily drizzle. And then I turned back, looking behind me at the mudroom, not wanting to step down the stairs to the garage. Must we really go? I felt like I was walking to my execution. What if I lose him now - No! We must. The cancer can't stay a moment longer in his body. You don't get any other choice. I turned back towards Andrew and followed him into the dark garage.
He never looked, or talked, or had the energy like that morning again. The next 11 months was his slow death as I was forced to accept that I would never have the Andrew that walked out of that mudroom with me again.
And then I remember how as Andrew lay on his hospital bed the last 3 days of his life. He heaved, arching his back off the bed, as he struggled for one breath after the next, the tumor pressing against his airway. His body was covered with the blood that had burst from his neck wound. Having lost too much blood to ever be conscious again, his eyes were closed. The blood stains were splattered all the way down to his toes. His feet were crossed at his ankles just like the depictions of Christ on the cross. With each day, his ribs became more and more pronounced, as the doctor said that with all his systems shutting down, he would not be able to take nutrition. And there was a three-inch long, vertical scar over his right ribs that resembled what one might think a soldier's sword-piercing on His side might look like. And looking on, watching her son suffer, just as Mary did, stood his mother.
Those of us in the room, independent of each other, were all struck by how much like Jesus he appeared to us as he suffered.
For as many times as I have heard the Easter story since I was born, Easter has far more of an effect on me than it ever has. When I was thinking about that last night and separately reflecting how Jesus died over the Passover, because He was the ultimate Passover Lamb, I realized that Andrew's 2nd major surgery, in which he was never the same again, took place over Easter weekend 2 years ago.
This morning, I received an email from an old friend, in which she shared some memories from when she had visited us. To my surprise, it turned out to be Easter 5 years ago. I had not remembered any of the things she wrote about:
"I remember that we went to the Seattle Library and Andrew was carrying Andrew Jr. in a sling (I don't know what they're called) and when Andrew Jr. fell asleep, Andrew jokingly placed Jr., sling and all, on one of the bookshelves and you laughed so fondly at your husband's humor. I think you guys took a picture of it."
And she copied a passage from her journal that she had written the weekend she had visited us: "When Andrew came home from work, I saw how Andrew and Grace work so well together. I knew them as singles and never a couple. They are just very compatible and it was neat to see how God knew them so perfectly well to have already blessed them with a son."
I love to remember him. So many things I've forgotten, or were just too good to be true.
The good news, that's even better than my experience with Andrew of being too good to be true, the news that really was TOO GOOD to be true, and yet was and is true, is that JESUS ROSE. HE ROSE!
Imagine the hurt and disappointment His friends and followers felt when He left them. Gone. Forever. All their hopes destroyed. Or so they thought. HE ROSE! Beyond any hopes or dreams they had for themselves or their own people or mankind, He more than fulfilled their hopes and dreams. By taking the blame for all their sins, through His suffering, death, and resurrection, Jesus provided a way for them to be forgiven, saved from hell and from themselves and their sin, and, as a result, a way for them to always, to eternally, have the closest, most satisfying relationship that could ever exist in all the universe with THE GOD of THE UNIVERSE.
Andrew died on a Saturday. Jesus rose up from the dead on a Sunday. I look forward to the day when Christ shall return and we, like the One who went before us, shall all rise.
"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'
"....Then [Jesus] opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." - Luke 24:1-7, 50-52