Grace. Oh it’s amazing. For reasons I cannot begin to fathom, our Lord has bestowed unmerited favor on me time and time again.
Last Saturday morning, my 82 year old mother suffered a heart attack. In the wee hours of the morning, I was woken up by our oldest daughter, home from college for Christmas break. Both she and my mother have bedrooms in the basement of our home. She told me that Nana thought she was having a heart attack. I lept out of bed and called an ambulance, which took her to the local hospital. The kids and I waited in the lobby while they got her settled into the emergency room; it seemed like an eternity.
Eventually, the doctor came to speak with us. The look of concern on his face was discomforting and he shared with us that her heart stopped twice while they were getting her settled. He and a team of nurses performed CPR and brought her back. Shaken, he also shared with us that when she came to, she told them not to revive her if it happened again. She has no written medical directive, and he was visibly upset by her instruction. I assured him that was consistent with anything she’s ever told me about dying, and that it was OK to let her go if it happened again. She knows where she’s going and she’s ready to go there.
The nurses all gathered around when she asked to see me for what we thought would be the last time. As I looked down on my mothers tiny, frail body, her face seemed shrunken and her eyes looked different. The nurses were crying and telling me they were sorry. My mother shared a few words with me, said she had no regrets and told me to make sure her grandkids knew she loved them.
Just then, the cardiologist on call entered the room and demanded to know why the cath lab staff hadn’t been prepped. The nurses apologized to me for his bedside manner, and proceeded to alert the cath lab team. Within moments, she was whisked away to surgery, after saying goodbye to my kids. We were ushered to the family waiting area where I made contact with other family members to let them know what happened.
Some time later (because honestly it’s hard to keep track of time in times like those) we were informed that the surgery was successful, that they put a stint into her heart and removed the 90% blockage. She came home from the hospital just two days later on Christmas Eve.
While we were leaving the hospital on Sunday afternoon, my son ran into a friend and his wife who live nearly an hour north of us. Puzzled at what they’d be doing in the hospital in our town, they shared that his father suffered a hear attack on his way to visit family. He was in the cath lab having surgery by the same doctor who did my mom’s. Hours later, we were informed that he didn’t make it.
Although I was thrilled that my mom was okay, I felt a strange sense of guilt that Jim wasn’t. He was younger than my mom, and as far as I know, had no sense of eternal life. Yet he passed and mom didn’t. My family attended his funeral visitation this week while I stayed with my mother. Such a strange dichotomy of feelings washed over me.
I’ve experienced this same dichotomy of emotions when my friend, Bob, buried his 19 year old son who died in a tragic car accident on the weekend my husband and I flew to visit our son for the first time since he left home for college; and the day our school experienced a mass stabbing when my daughter stayed home in an ironic twist of fate, but I drove my son early to school that day so he could take a youth retreat invitation to his friend who ended up the first victim.
I am repeatedly reminded in ways that my simple mind cannot understand that God’s ways are not my ways. The Bible instructs is to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. I am both rejoicing and mourning today.
Be blessed today, my friends. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we know Who holds tomorrow.
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