Big Daddy sat in a wheel chair, shattered to the core. Doing my best to hide the IV in my arm and the wires coming from my chest. I held my 8 and 5 year old daughters on my lap. My 8 year old, Abigail, was doing her best to hold back her tears. My 5 year old, Shoshana, just staring silently with her thumb in her mouth and her head laying on my chest…possibly for the last time. Finally in a rush of tears, Abigail blurts out, “Daddy, will you be home for Christmas?” I had to make a choice.
The story I am about to tell may amaze you, may make you cry, and hopefully bring you to your knees before the Creator of the universe. Thats what it did for me. There are some details that I will leave out, but I will probably tell them later in another story. Try to keep up.
Wednesday before Christmas: I have been feeling a little under the weather for a week or so. I was sure it was just the cold weather settling in for the season. It felt as if my bronchial’s were a little chaffed from the cold air. Not something I let slow me down. But at the urging (I used to call this nagging) of my wonderful wife, I went to see our chiropractor/nutritionist. He gave me the usual adjustment and supplement testing. He was a little concerned that this might not be in the lungs at all. He urged me to rest from my adjustment, do some light exertion later in the afternoon and if the feeling came back to “go MD” in the morning. I only finished shoveling half my walk.
Thursday before Christmas: I was a half hour early for my 830 am appointment. The doctor was out of town, so I had to “settle” for a P.A. (I have since changed my opinion of them as well). After explaining my symptoms to him, and still being convinced it was just a chest cold, he advised we do an EEG. Nothing was abnormal about the results. For some reason he seemed worried. He said he wanted me to take a “stress test” (treadmill test). The only problem is that our small little town has limited resources. They can’t see me till Saturday. But the alternative is to try the major hospital in the next town over. I am saying to myself, “It’s just a chest cold, I can wait till Saturday, but call them and see.” So I call the wife while he calls down the road. Turns out they are all full too. So we have to wait any way. I tell the wife never mind and hang up. The PA says he wants to try one more avenue. He calls the hospital back and gets me in…today..through the ER! For a chest cold! He explains that I can go home and rest and test on Saturday and everything may be ok, or I can go home and rest and never wake up again. He explains it’s not a chest cold. I call my wife back. My wife says we are going today.
I drive 60 miles with my family to the next town over, check in through the ER, get hooked up to machines and wait. The problem is, I am alone now. The hospital will not allow any children under 12 in…period. I am soon visited by the world’s greatest cardiologist. My wife makes it in as her father comes and takes the kids to play and dinner. He feels that there is no need for a stress test. He advises THIS instead. I spend most of the night holding the hand of my wife praying and crying. I demand to see my kids. They won’t let them come in due to some kind of “upper respiratory” thing going around. Well if you know anything about me…………lets just say they hooked me up to a remote monitor, put me in a wheel chair and let me go to the lobby to see my kids, and no one had to actually call security. Saying goodbye to my kids that afternoon was the hardest thing I have ever done….ever. But we trusted in God.
Friday morning before Christmas: By 10am I am on a small, very uncomfortable table to have radio-active die pumped into my heart. Medical drugs are amazing. I was completely awake, and completely numb! I only remember bits and pieces. But I do remember when they let my wife come in between the exploratory and the stint placement. I kind of remember our kisses, but I do remember telling her to “kiss the doctor, he just saved my life!”
Sometime that afternoon, I become coherent enough to absorb information. It turns our I had a 95% blockage of the main coronary that feeds my heart. It turns out, my wife saved my life by making me go. It turns out I would quite possibly have died shoveling my walk Friday morning. But it also turns out Big Daddy would be home for Christmas. They sent me home Saturday the 24th around 4 in the afternoon.
Faced with my own mortality, every day is….afresh! My tomorrow almost never came. My I share this with you? Get right with God, and love. Love big. Love more than you ever dreamed possible. Love now, love everyone. Not just your family and friends. Go tell the guy who works on your car that you love him and God loves him. Tell your waitress that you love her and God loves her. Do it now. Don’t waist time with anger, or blame. Don’t fall into deceit and meanness. Don’t let time dictate your life. I need you to know right now that I love you, God loves you more than I do, and that this day is the day that God made!!