Easter Gift

Sunrise after the storm © Marty Schafer

It’s Maundy Thursday, and I spent my morning in the hospital waiting room, wondering if my husband would make it through open heart surgery.

Holidays have a surreal place in my life. My dad died on the traditional Memorial Day weekend when I was a teen. It seemed fitting, as he was a WWII veteran. My mom’s memorial was on All Saints Sunday, in the church where she had spent three decades singing in the choir, cooking for potlucks and serving in governance.

So what would happen on this first day of the Easter weekend? It’s one of those days in the traditional Christian calendar that tends to get overlooked, even though this is the day that gave us the Lord’s Supper, the Communion ritual we celebrate.

As I read the words “This is my body, broken for you,” I thought of the surgeon breaking my husband’s sternum. “This is my blood, shed for you.” Was his blood circulating through a machine even as I read the words? Had he lost so much that he needed the blood of others to survive?

“Do this in remembrance of me.” Ah, was this going to be it? Would memories be all I had left? Had I given him my last kiss, like Judas Iscariot?

The disciples went on without a clue, sleeping while Jesus prayed (I dozed a bit). But there the parallels mostly end. Thankfully — gratefully — graciously, my husband came out of the surgery with flying colors. He survived triple-bypass surgery, and they didn’t even have to stop his heart. No machine to circulate his blood, no blood products to replace lost blood. But without the surgery he would surely have died sooner than later. Arteries blocked 80% and 100% tend to kill.

For me, Easter has come early. Skilled doctors, anesthetists, nurses and techs, intake specialists and the cafeteria workers who feed them all worked together to give my husband new life. As I watch this strong, stubborn and proud man moan with pain, aching from wounds in neck, chest, stomach, arms and legs, I wonder at the women beneath the cross. They knew Jesus was dying, but I feel some kinship with them. The watching, waiting, helplessness. And prayer.

And this evening, I celebrate Easter. As these professionals make a broken body whole again, so God let the Lamb be sacrificed on the cross, that his blood could make me whole, and then rose him from the grave, that I could have new life in him.

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