April 27, 2014
Sunday, 9:00 p.m.
Letter #328: The Resurrection Story
Last Sunday, I wrote about the difficult blessing of Joe’s mom dying … from the relief of her renewed faith in God, to the hope of recovery in a hospital bed, to the tragedy of having to place her on life support and the realization she is slipping away. Joe and his family now had to make the tough decision about when to “pull the plug” and remove Karen from the machines keeping her alive. Knowing his family would have a small memorial service, Joe began to prepare a letter of tribute for his mom, and the warden gave approval to have it emailed in order for it to arrive in time for her service.
Joe and I were looking forward to this weekend. In the midst of this overwhelming traumatic event, we were getting visits. My mom had applied to visit Joe, and her dear friend from church, Jana, was making the 13-hour trip with her to visit me. The plan was for my mom to visit with Joe a couple of hours then join Jana to visit me each of the three visiting days. I couldn’t wait for Joe to meet my mom and get a picture to share with all of you! Unfortunately, these plans never happened.
Monday morning Joe and I called the hospital to see if the doctors had already met with the rest of Joe’s family to confirm the time to remove his mom, Karen, from life support. The nurse I spoke with told me that Karen is “steadily improving” and that over the past weekend, she was able to briefly breathe without assistance.
I said, “Excuse me, but could you please repeat that?”
Again, the nurse told me that Karen is doing much better. I asked if she is awake and alert, certain that the nurse didn’t know what we were really dealing with. “Yep,” she said, matter-of-factly. “She’s doing everything we have been asking her to do.”
At this point, it dawned on me that Joe was struggling to figure out why I was looking shocked. After all, the call was supposed to let us know the status of a Memorial Service, yet I was sitting there with a puzzled grin on my face. Joe kept asking me, “What? What are they saying?” and I kept shushing him until I pulled every bit of information out of the hospital.
Finally, I hung up. I was so shocked, I didn’t know if I should get Joe’s hopes up, so I started cautiously at first. “Well, Joe, they said that your mom breathed a little on her own, and that she is responding well to the medication and slowly healing.”
Puzzlement was all he could register because I wasn’t making much sense yet. He wanted to have hope, but he knew that he couldn’t bear the disappointment of dashed hopes again, so he cautiously asked me what that meant. Then I told him that his mom is “steadily improving” and is “alert and responding” to the doctors. It slowly started to dawn on us that not only was his mom NOT clinically dead, she was very much alive!
I wish I could describe those next minutes, those next hours. If you’ve lost someone close to you, could you imagine having them back, if even for a moment; a chance to say a last goodbye, a hug? Joe won the World Series, the Super bowl, and the lottery all in one day. Joy indescribable!
We went back up to our cell and, with a feeling of overwhelming gratitude, poured out our hearts to the Creator of Life, the Great Physician, the only One worthy of all praise. Joe recognized immediately what God had done in his own life, as faith had grown and peace replaced fear. Releasing his mom to the Lord even before she was placed on life support reaffirmed his commitment into the hands of his Heavenly Father. Now, whether Karen has days or years left on this earth—this temporary home—Joe lives with that blessed assurance that he will see his mom again.
Though visitation approvals lagged for my mom and lapsed for Jana, they made the trip here, stopping by a certain hospital bed on the way, delivering hope and love from a momma’s boy glad to have her back. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. We serve a powerful, loving God.