Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is.—Psalm 39:4 (NLT)
The call that changed my year came last Thursday night at 10:45.
We were winding down the day at home. I had taken St. Patrick’s Day off to go with Erika and the kids to the parade downtown. The kids were in bed, so I was working upstairs while my wife was watching Netflix downstairs.
Her phone rang. She doesn’t usually get calls on her cell, let alone that late at night. I figured it was a wrong number, so I would answer and give them a hard time.
While I got ready to go, Erika packed me some stuff to take with me. Lafayette is an hour away, and if Dad’s in the hospital with something serious, I would probably be there a while.
I arrived in the ER and got bits and pieces of information from everyone there. Dad’s fishing buddy had last heard from him at noon when they were on the phone. Dad said he wasn’t feeling well and was going to take a nap. His girlfriend had tried to call him for two hours after work, and when he didn’t answer, she drove to the house to find the doors locked and the lights out.
She broke into the house and found Dad lying face down on the floor next to his bed. He was still breathing, but not moving. No telling how long he was laying there, but lets assume it was several hours. The doctor said there was a massive blood clot on the right side of his brain with the same effects as a stroke. His blood pressure was sky-high, and the left side of his body showed no response.
They let us go back to see him. Gone was the strong, self-assured, rugged man I had known my whole life. This man had blood on his chest from a line the ER had inserted, blood behind his head, and a ventilator tube in his throat. He had tried to pull out the tube and his bouts of panic made his blood pressure rise, so he was under some sedation to keep him still.
Once he was stabilized, he was moved to a hospital across town to be treated by a neurosurgeon. He didn’t want to operate as long as Dad’s blood pressure was under control. His thought was that the brain would simply re-absorb the excess blood. Friday morning, Dad responded to simple commands to move his fingers and his foot, so he was still in there… somewhere.
Saturday, he had regressed. The surgeon wanted to drain the clot to relieve the pressure. It was my choice to either allow the surgery or bide some time. It seemed like the weight of the world was on me. I was now in charge of making the decisions that would affect my dad’s life.
Sunday was better. Dad was back to where he was on Friday. Monday was even better. They let him breathe on his own a little and took him off the sedation. Then yesterday, he showed the first signs of trying to open his eyes for the first time in five days.
I really need to sit down and process all the many, many moments where God intervened over the past week in the lives of everyone in my family and extended family, but obviously the big intervention is that my dad was likely on the path to death and God saved him.
My dad neglected his health and made some other mistakes that we are just learning about. He thought he would never die.
I never thought there was a good time to share the Gospel with my dad. He was either cynical or not interested or too much of a rugged outdoorsman to care.
Boy, were we both wrong.
The God that we serve saved my Dad’s life, and He heard the faithful prayers of many in doing so. And now, we both get what God gives us so freely and so often. A second chance.
Life is short no matter how long we live.