Wake up, Olive.
These words. How I relate to them. How I desperately longed for the same outcome for my eighteen-year-old son. That he would live and not die and declare the mighty works of God. First, we sang songs of worship in the waiting room. We gathered and prayed and praised God for the miracle of Christiano waking up. We prayed almost as if it was already done… thanking God repeatedly for the miracle that we believed was on the other side of our nightmare. My husband constantly reminding me at every bad report, “we speak life only, honey.” As bad news continued, we pressed in deeper – believing God for the miraculous. As doctors brought reports of death, we declared life over my son’s brain-dead body.
“This is the battle we’ve trained for our entire Christian walk.”
I’ll never forget those words spoken by my husband. In the moment he spoke them, we had no idea the battle we would forever walk out. The battle that I still feel so ill equipped for.
Day One: Praise. Worship. Faith. Trust. Even our kids believed because they, too, were trained in the truth that God can move a mountain with a mustard seed of faith and heal the sick and raise the dead with one mighty touch of his hand. Even after the doctors could no longer revive him, we still believed. For a miracle. For an awakening. Chris kneeled over our son’s lifeless body for what felt like eternity and said the same words to Christiano. “WAKE UP.” But He never did. We left. We went home. To nurture our broken children. To try and process all we’d just encountered. Someone from church called me right after we arrived home asking where his body was. They wanted to go pray for resurrection. Believe me, I was hoping she had that kind of faith. That maybe she knew the ‘right’ way to raise a body from the dead.
Day Two: Guarding our hearts. Commanding life. Hoping for resurrection. “Seeing” our son alive despite the forever ingrained image in our minds. I sat on the steps of the funeral home; I looked up to the top where I knew my boy’s body was and said aloud, “Ok. Christiano. I’m ready for you to wake up now. I’m ready for you to come home with us. I’m ready for our miracle.” The next day, I got a call from a Pastor in California. He had a dream and vision that Christiano would awaken at the funeral. I wanted to believe that, but my hope was wearing thin.
Day Three: Acceptance. I think. I tread lightly upon that word because there are still days I don’t think I fully accept that my son is gone. Denial. Still moments of holding out hope for the miracle of all miracles. Trust. In all and through all – we trusted that God’s plans were the best plans. However, we could not fully grasp how or why God would consider this plan the best one. We still don’t fully understand. We might never.
The funeral: Because of that Pastor’s dream, I was still holding out for the miraculous awakening. I was torn between a proper service and a proper goodbye, yet still having an expectancy to leave that day with my boy – fully alive and in tact. But... He never woke up.
The Days After: Still hoping. Still waiting. Still trusting. Still believing. Crying out to God… for answers, for comfort, for all of this to make sense because it made none. Did I give up too soon? On the possibility of that miracle? Did I not fight hard enough or stand tall enough?
These are questions I do not know the answers to. What I do know is that, if I had my way – my boy would be here.
But, I did not get my way. I did not get my miracle. I did not get to bring my first born home from the hospital despite my pleading, my crying, and my yearning. I’ll never ever forget the gut wrenching, blood curdling scream that my husband let out when he finally accepted that revival was not going to happen. Losing a child is a nightmare that you NEVER wake up from. Ever.
Following the journey of Andrew and Kalley Heiligenthal has brought me right back to those first days. It has been a major grief trigger. Still, I’ve been joining my faith with theirs and continuing to believe with them for the miraculous. Some may not understand how I could believe for this when I, myself, did not see or experience the miracle I was praying for. Here is my answer to that. We NEVER stop believing in the mighty power of God. His power is not measured by my outcome or anyone else’s. He is God, and He is good. Watching the video of Kalley singing shouts of praise and dancing around brought me right back to our waiting room moments. People stared. They thought we were crazy. I didn’t care. I admire Olive’s beautiful, strong. Momma. She is a WARRIOR. To see the love and support and faith of God’s people who have rallied around this mother in a time when she needs it most has been incredibly beautiful. My heart could not understand more, exactly what this woman is feeling.
Sadly, I’m also seeing many negative comments. From Christians, mostly. How sad. It’s not over until God says it’s over, and that is nobody’s business. Similarly, Chris and I were criticized, but for the opposite. Some said we must not have had enough faith... that we accepted defeat too soon. That we should have held out longer.
What I don’t understand is why, in a time where this family has gone through the unimaginable, would anyone make it their place to criticize. We should be supporting and loving on this family. To see comments on Kalley’s beautiful pictures of her sweet girl that are shaming or rebuking this mother for wanting her baby back - it breaks my heart all over again. It is the enemy that comes to steal kill and destroy. Why would we not believe that God can overturn the evil work of his adversary’s hand. Whether Olive wakes up or not, I believe that life is flowing through her. Her spirit is with the Lord, just as my son’s is. What this family needs more than anything else is our love and support. How incredible it would be for Olive to wake up. I’ve cried out to God for her and for her parents and sister. There is nothing more I would rather see than headlining news that Olive did, in fact, wake up. In the meantime, while we wait – on God… on Olive… on Andrew and Kalley – can we just stand with them and pray for them and just simply love them?
"I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” John 13:34
Let us BE the church.