"So these are your treatment options..." I choke back a sob and let my voice trail off. How do I present a 30 year old mother of 5 with the fact that we've already done all we can do? "...I will support you, whatever you choose." I turn so she doesn't see me blink back the tears.
"For me, I would like to choose life." The words are steady, certain. "My children are still so young. I would like to live."
I choke with all the times I have taken this breath in my lungs for granted. The tears burn hot but I try not to let them fall. Not yet. Its not over yet. Yes, dear friend, oh yes, how I want you to live.
There are days we stare death in the face around here. Sometimes the right diet and medication just isn't enough and the heart pumps too hard and the chest heaves for breath and we see it coming. Other times we blink and a life is gone. Sometimes friends cling tightly to life and are given a miraculous second chance. Other times they cling to my hand as I whisper that Jesus is right on the other side and they slip away to be with Him. I feel it coming, but I don't want to. I watch her smile at her children and I can't help but hope. I know the God who works miracles, the One who calls things that are not as though they were. I know Him, and I can't help but ask it, "Oh Lord, might she live?"
I think of a few men carrying their paralyzed friend on a mat, desperate to lay him at the feet of Jesus. I think of how cumbersome it must have been to try to get him up on that roof, how difficult it must have been to remove the tiles so they could lower him down through the ceiling to the Lord, into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus (Luke 5:17-25). I think I know the desperation they must have felt, the urgency to get him there. I remember that because of the faith of the men, Jesus forgave their friend's sin, and for His glory alone, He healed that man's legs as well, told him to get up and walk.
I know this God.
And I, too, want to choose life.
And even when I have seen one too many die of this horrible, life-sucking disease we call AIDS, I want to choose to fight. And even when temptation and despair is overwhelming, I want to choose hope. And even when man's sin and depravity threaten to be all consuming, I want to choose the victory that is in Christ Jesus.
I want to choose Life.
I know the prognosis. I read the reports and the chest x-rays and the liver panel and I knew the doctor's speech before he gave it, that the antiretrovirals meant to save her life were tearing her stomach apart and that 80 pounds is just too small for a woman of five and a half feet. I know what the world says.
But she would like to live. And I know the Life-Giver.
I want to show her. I want to show her how we hope against hope, believe against all the impossible that He who died to give us life is making all things beautiful and perfect. I want to show her the One who is Life and how we know that His ways are better and higher and that He is working all things for our good, but still we can ask for a miracle; we beg for it.
I clasp her hand and I close my eyes and tonight I want to bring her into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. I tuck them all in and I hand her a glass of milk with her medicine and we watch her children's chests rise and fall with sleep on these mattresses all over the floor as hers heaves hard for each breath.
I know the Life-Giver. So tonight I lower my friend Katherine through the roof. I beg on her behalf, on the behalf of her children that she might know Him more and that for His glory alone He might heal her, call her to get up and walk.
Would you join me?