“She’s alive but…”
These words stole my breathe and everything began to move in slow motion as my sister proceeded to tell me our mom had been rushed to the ER after being found passed out in her home by a friend. All we knew at that moment was they think she had suffered a stroke. We didn’t know if she would live or die. We didn’t know IF she survived whether she’d ever be able to walk or talk again.
One of our worst nightmares was unfolding right before our eyes and there was nothing we could do to stop it.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you gotten the text or phone call you never thought you’d get?
We had spoken with her earlier that morning and encouraged her to reach out to a friend to come over because she seemed a little off. But we had NO idea what was about to unfold. After getting off the phone with us, she did text a friend something along the lines of “my girls think you should take me to the ER.” Unfortunately, my sister and I didn’t understand the immediacy of the situation and her friend didn’t see the text until an hour later.
When her friend arrived, she rang the doorbell, banged on the door and screamed my mom’s name but there was no answer. All she could hear was the dog barking frantically. She knew something wasn’t right, so she called 911. When the first responders arrived, they found her passed out on the floor. She was white as a ghost.
“She’s unresponsive but her vital signs are good,” they said. I’m thinking to myself, WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN??
We felt so helpless. My mom is in Memphis, TN. My brother is three hours away in Alabama. My sister is in New York, and I’m 2,000 miles away in California.
Fear flooded my mind with a barrage of “What If’s?: “What if our conversation this morning is the last time I get to talk to her?” “What if she survives but can’t communicate? I know she’d rather die than be a vegetable.” “How are we going to help take care of her when we’re all spread out across the country?” “Is her insurance up to date?” “What’s going to happen to her dog?” And on and on the questions came.
I was so frozen with fear, I couldn’t even pray. But I know God understood my heart even when I couldn’t find the words.
The next few hours moved slower than sap down a tree. Things went from scary to terrifying. She went from the ER to the ICU to emergency surgery. They found a large clot that was blocking blood flow to her brain and heart and “time was of the essence”.
While these were indescribably some of the scariest hours of our lives, they were also some of the most amazing. Because people showed up.
Friends rushed to the hospital to offer any and every ounce of help they could. The waiting room began to fill with friends and family who kept us up-to-date on our mom until our brother could get there. My dad rushed up to the hospital in my place since I wouldn’t be able to get there right away. They stayed at the hospital for hours and hours, through her surgery and beyond, to ensure she wasn’t alone and we were up-to-date.
Thankfully, she did survive and is making great progress. It was confirmed she suffered a stroke with several subsequent mini strokes. She is slowly beginning to talk again and move parts of her body that were unresponsive for days. It’s a miracle. But we have a long road ahead of us.
This is all still very raw and we’re still very much in process. But here are some things I’ve learned over the past few days:
FAITH OVER FEAR FACT #1: COMMUNITY IS THE INCARNATE HANDS AND FEET OF JESUS TO US ON THIS EARTH.
In his book “The Inner Voice of Love: a Journey Through Anguish to Freedom,” Henri Nouwen says this:
The community has truly held my brother, sister and I during this crazy time. To know that my mom was fully taken care of when we were too far to get to her in her scariest moment has brought me so much peace. And they continue to show up every day. She hasn’t been alone for a moment because friends and family are sharing the load of sitting with her day in and day out.
SO WHAT DOES COMMUNITY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU, FRIEND?
- Are you allowing God to hold you through the human hands of the community around you?
- Have you taken the time to invest in friendships?
- Do you know who you’d call at 3AM (or any time, for that matter) if you found yourself in an emergency?
If you haven’t found your people yet, START TODAY. It’s never too late to build community and be community. BECOME the friend you’d want to be there for you in your greatest time of need. And before you know it, you’ll have built a strong community around yourself where you are fully known and fully loved.
Because this life was never meant to be lived alone.
FAITH OVER FEAR FACT #2: GOD NEVER PROMISED US AN EASY LIFE, BUT HE PROMISED TO BE WITH US THROUGH THE STORMS.
I mentioned earlier that when I got the call about my mom, I couldn’t even pray. I didn’t have the words. Thankfully, God already knew what I would need before I knew I would need it. He gave me promise after promise in the Bible to meet me wherever I may find myself during my life.
The other day, as I felt ready to sit down with God and talk – He brought me straight to Isaiah. A book of the Bible that has come to be a close friend. When I read it, it’s like God is talking straight to me. Like He KNEW. Because He did know. He knew every single thing I’d face – and He knows every single thing you’ll face – so He wrote us some letters in advance so we’d have somewhere to turn when life hits hard.
Two things really stand out to me in this passage:
- God didn’t say “if” you go through the waters or “if” you pass through the rivers or “if” you go through the fires. He said WHEN. He’s letting us know without beating around any bush that we WILL go through the waters, pass through the rivers and go through the fires. BUT He will be with us and not let any harm come to us. That doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. Because it will. But He will not let it overtake us.
- God didn’t say we’d go AROUND the waters or ABOVE the rivers or AVOID the fire. He said we’d go THROUGH them. Again, He’s letting us know there’s no avoiding these situations. They will come. And the only way through them is THROUGH them. And He’ll be with us the whole time.
Dear friend, whatever you are facing today, I want you to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. YOU. ARE. NEVER. ALONE.
And while it’s so painful and hard to go through these storms, you can 100% rest in the fact that GOD WILL BE WITH YOU THROUGH IT. And I’m also here to show you His love as we learn together how to have faith no matter what fear comes our way.