Rhema was *great* during her EEG. It was unbelievably smooth, and I know that someone must have thought of us and prayed for us! I will write about her results soon.
Rhema’s doctor is one of the top pediatric neurologists in Boston. On Monday, before he arrived, a team of medical students and residents came to speak with us. First, they asked lots of questions of Brandon and me, getting Rhema’s history from our perspective. (Rhema’s seizure disorder – Landau Kleffner syndrome – is rare. You just don’t see a case like hers everyday.)
Then the resident examined Rhema while she sat in bed. These examinations are never easy – even something as simple as getting a temp or blood pressure on her is difficult because she gets scared. She wriggles, squirms and fights. The resident did manage the standard checks – he looked in her eyes with a flashlight, tested her reflexes. Some tests were unsuccessful because they required following directions and understanding the directions to begin with, such as ‘raise your arms,’ and ‘deep breath in and out.’
The resident stooped down to look her in the eyes (she was sitting on the bed). He raised two fingers and asked, “How many fingers am I holding up?”
There was silence as Rhema looked all around, anywhere but the doctor’s face.
“How many fingers am I holding up?”
He attempted to get her to look, waving his fingers in front of her, “How many fingers am I holding up?”
Switching gears, he asked, “What’s your name?”
Silence. Crickets chirped.
“What’s your name?? What’s your name?”
I could feel the heat in my face. I was starting to get angry, angry at him, angry at the whole situation. Hadn’t this guy read her file? Didn’t he know her medical history? Surely the word NONVERBAL was written somewhere in magic marker on her records, across her forehead? Wasn’t it painfully obvious by now?
The doctor spontaneously ripped off his watch and dangled it in front of her. “What’s this? Rhema. What’s this?”
Finally, I interjected. Surprisingly, my voice was soft:
“She’s not going to answer you.”
He slowly turned to us, “What does she answer?”
I know he wanted to know for education’s sake, for the benefit of the other medical professionals in the room.
Brandon and I looked at each other. A flicker of deep longing and… loss… passed between us. Something I believe no one can understand unless, they, like us, would move heaven and earth, spend their last penny, and chop off their limbs…
just to have one real, meaningful conversation with their child.
It is what we miss most of all.
What does she answer?
His pen was ready to take notes on a blank page.
“No… nothing.” I stuttered, as if realizing it for the first time.
He waited. He seemed to want us to scroll our memories, to come up with something. But we didn’t have to try to remember. Surely we would remember. But there was,
Later, after everyone had left and it was just Rhema and me, I nearly jumped off the sleeper chair when I remembered something.
Rhema is nothing!
Seriously. Rhema is nothing!!!
I have been studying her name’s meaning for a long time. Many who read this blog know that her name is translated from the Greek as “the spoken word” (as opposed to logos, which is “the written word”).
But there’s another, lesser known meaning for rhema, and that is “no word” or “no thing.” Specifically, in Luke 1:37, when the angel is telling Mary that she will birth the Son of God, he says,
“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
‘Nothing’ in the original translation is ‘rhema.’
She is the embodiment of that verse. I look at her, and I already see God doing the impossible. There are a LOT of discouraging times, but I tell you, there’s no doubt in my mind God will continue doing the impossible in her.
In that hospital room, and even now, I am prompted to open my fists and give all of my nothing to Him… “to the God who gives life to the dead and creates something out of nothing.” (Rom. 4:17)
I give my rhema to the One, who with a Word, framed the worlds from nothingness and sustains it even now. (Heb. 1)
Write our story, Lord, in your words. Take our nothing, and fill our blank pages with all of the impossibles You have made possible.