LIFE – EXPECTANCY!

Yesterday was Robbie’s 34th birthday! He enjoyed going to Grandma’s house and having aunts, uncles, cousins and especially Grandma make over him. We had also celebrated his birthday big-time last week when we were at Julie’s house in Alabama with his nephew Benjamin whose birthday is the day before Robbie’s. Benjamin, who turned 12, is really into Bionicles so he wanted a Bionicle Birthday. (In case you don’t know what Bionicles are, they are robot-type creatures by Legos.) That was perfect for Robbie. We jokingly call him our Bionic Man since he is fuel-injected (he is tube fed through a g-tube) and battery-operated (he has a battery pack implanted near his collar bone for his Vagus Nerve Stimulator.) There is a special bond between Robbie and Benjamin. Benjamin has always had such a love for Robbie and playing with him and paying him extra-special attention. I made a birthday poster for them that said “Bionicle Buddies” but it could have said “Best Buddies.”

Thirty-four – going on two. Robbie is so sweet and precious to us, but we can see the last few years have taken a toll on him. He is much weaker physically than he used to be, unable to stand at all now or even sit in his wheelchair for longer than thirty or forty minutes at a time. The seizures have probably done a little more damage mentally, as well, over the years. He definitely is not the same person he was nine years ago, although if anything, he is more loving and sweeter than ever.

It was nine years ago today that they called a code blue on him in the hospital. We did not know if he was going to pull through. In fact, the doctors did not give us much hope at the time and even asked if we wanted a “do not resuscitate” order on him. Of course, we said no, but thus began the long hard journey of holding our breath and holding onto hope. The first two years after that fateful day were an emotional roller-coaster for me as we sat by his bed and struggled to keep him alive. We were in and out of the hospital and faced one crisis after another, but eventually he began to stabilize and we could breathe a little easier. The last few years have been fairly uneventful with him – praise the Lord!

Years ago they told us that the life expectancy for people like Robbie was the mid-thirties. We have heard that repeated several times. After having almost lost him nine years ago today, and several other times since then, we consider these last nine years “bonus years.” I must admit, as each birthday has passed since he turned thirty, I am conscious of the countdown clock ticking away and wonder if we will still have him for another birthday. Now here he is at thirty-four, the beginning of his mid thirties. I know it does not matter what “they” say – God is in control and holds Robbie’s life in His hands. He has Robbie’s days numbered (and ours, as well) and only He knows that number. Job 14:5 says, “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.” And though I do not worry about it, I am aware that our years and months and days with our precious Robbie may be short.

I think I look at this a lot differently than I did nine years ago. At that time it was such a traumatic shock to suddenly be faced with the prospects of losing our “baby,” whom we had cared for almost like a baby for twenty-five years, that I could not face the void his loss would make in my life. Oh, I knew in heart and mind that God’s will is always loving and best, and that I could trust and accept His will for Robbie and for us, but still this mother’s heart was breaking. Now, after nine years of seeing how Robbie’s life is so limited in quality and scope and physical comfort, I think I will be able more easily to release him to Heaven and the new life he will have there when the time comes. I talk to him almost every night as I’m tucking him into bed about how wonderful it will be in Heaven when he will be able to walk and run and dance, talk and sing and eat! He always grins and gets all excited! I know my heart will still break when the time comes, but I think now, after all his little body has been through, I will be able to focus more on his gain than my loss.

Life expectancy. We probably all expect we will live well into our seventies anyway. The life expectancy for Americans right now is 78.2 years (75.6 years for men; 80.8 years for women.) Surprisingly, the United States ranks 38th in the world for life expectancy. There are no guarantees, however. Bob frequently reads the obituaries and often shares with me as he reads. I am always struck by how many people die in their thirties and forties, and even twenties. We never know what a day will bring forth, do we? We expect to do this or do that, expecting that life will go on as normal.

Perhaps we would be better off to not have an expectancy for how long we live, or even how we will live, but for what the Lord has prepared for us someday in Heaven! That is an expectancy and hope that I can count on! I Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Jesus made a promise in John 14:2, 3 that “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” I am excited to see what He has prepared for us! I am excited to be there with Him! And of course, I am excited for Robbie for all the wonders that he will experience there, too!

My husband often says he is looking forward with expectancy to what the Lord has in store for us next. I, too, look forward to seeing what happens in our lives here on earth. But even more, I am looking with expectancy to the new life we will have when this life is over! Our years on earth are numbered and whether they are twenty or one hundred, they are but a drop in the bucket when compared to all eternity. How wonderful that when we have Christ as our Savior we can look forward with expectancy to glorious, everlasting, eternal life!

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