Four years ago, on Easter morning, we woke up and got dressed in pretty dresses and button down shirts. We were visiting Lolli and Pop and had enjoyed Easter egg hunting, good food and fun with cousins the day before. Ryan and I gathered our kids and went outside to take Easter photos before heading to church on that Easter morning. When we finished the photos, an unexpected darkness hit hard.
My dad couldn’t breathe well. He was struggling to get a breath. We called an ambulance and tried not to panic as we waited. My dad grabbed my hand and told me several times that he wasn’t going to make it, but I refused to say goodbye. I boldly and firmly responded, “Yes you are, you are going to make it!” I honestly didn’t know if he would or not, but hope was all I had and the best thing I could think of to give to him. We watched and prayed and held his hands as he struggled more and more to breathe, and just as the ambulance arrived he passed out. I ran outside and yelled, begging for the EMS workers to hurry.
My mom, brother and I followed the ambulance to the hospital. There my dad’s heart stopped for 2 minutes, but they got him back. They intubated him and stuck tubes in his sides in attempt to drain fluid off his body. I paced the lobby of the hospital repeating Psalm 118:17 over and over again, “He will not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. He will not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. He will not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” I pleaded with God, “Don’t let him go out like this. Let him live and have long days of life on earth. Don’t let it happen like this.”
My dad had smoked and drank quite a bit, and he knew he hadn’t been good to his body. He had deep regret even as he was struggling to breathe that morning. He kept saying, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, little girl.” I didn’t want him to leave this earth in that way. I desperately wanted him to experience freedom in this life, not just in Heaven.
He was in the hospital for about a month, transferred to two other hospitals in that timeframe. He was intubated for 17 days and heavily sedated during that time. Most days the doctors and nurses didn’t offer much hope. Other days, we saw a glimmer of light.
Doctors tried numerous times to get my dad off the vent with no success. He wasn’t able to breathe on his own. The day he finally got extubated and was able to breathe with just the assistance of nasal oxygen, all that hope we’d clung to came alive. My heart happy-danced all day long.
And then, there was the day my dad got to leave the hospital. He was one happy and free man! Today he is living life as healthy as he can…no smoking, no drinking and he’s watching what he eats. He is grateful for each day of life, and we are thankful for each day, week, month and year we get to spend with him.
There is so much uncertainty in our world today. Darkness has fallen onto the lives of so many. There are some who are bothered by not getting to socially do what they love to do, not getting to visit family or friends, not being able to buy groceries or toiletries they’d normally buy. There are people who’ve lost jobs, have slow business or no business, people who have no income coming in. Some are essential workers, overwhelmed by the demand of want and need. Some are doctors or nurses, braving saving the lives of others with fear and uncertainty about their own lives. Some are watching family member’s breath slowly fade away, not sure if that breath will return. There are people who are elated, seeing a loved one able to breathe again and come back home. And there are others not even getting to sit with a loved one as life fades from this one into the next, not getting to say goodbye, or offer hope or have the closure anyone would want.
The corona virus, COVID-19, has brought a weightiness, a sadness and a gloom of hopelessness into our world.
Hearing that Jesus is hope when you are watching your loved one fade away is not easy to hear or receive. Hearing that God provides when you have no work is hard to hear. Receiving that there is hope when all you feel is despair is not easy. The church has hurt people at times, many times. Sometimes the church responds poorly to hurting people, to disaster and to pandemics. I have been deeply hurt in the church and by Christian friends. And I have hurt others in the church. I am sorry if the church has hurt you. I am sorry if Christians have hurt you. I am sorry if religion has hurt you. And I am sorry if I have hurt you.
Of one thing I am certain, and in it I find great hope. It is the enemy who comes to kill, steal and destroy. And it is our God who comes to comfort the broken-hearted, to save, to heal, to love and to free. He is here, bringing light in the darkness. Maybe you can’t see it yet, maybe you are struggling to hope. I pray that whatever situation you are in, wherever you find yourself, that you would begin to see His light break through for YOU – your body, your family, your friends, your finances, your depression, your hopelessness, your fear, your pain. He loves you deeply and dearly, and He will come through for you.
Yesterday, we were missing cousins, but we had a fun egg hunt. This morning, we woke up and got dressed in nice clothes. We went outside to take some photos. We came in and all sat down in the living room to watch church on TV with Lolli and Pop. 🌤