A common activity for me in the evening is to sit in the living room of our small apartment in direct view of the master bedroom, where my wife might be talking to one or both of our children. Just hanging out.
Our son is 24 and our daughter is 16. It is a blessing that we all get along, especially living in close quarters. But when I hear them laughing and chit-chatting about everything or nothing, it hits home in a very different way.
Last spring, I was awakened at 2 a.m. one morning because my wife was in intense pain. We managed as best we could until about five o’clock, when we called an ambulance and she was wheeled out of our home on a stretcher.
That was April 4, my daughter’s birthday. My wife spent the next 38 days in the hospital. An infection in her leg led to septic shock, which we found later has about a 15% survival rate.
“She is very, very sick,” the medical staff told me on more than one occasion.
She spent 10 days in ICU, and there was a period of three or four days during which I began to prepare mentally for life as a widower. At the same time, I wondered about other possibilities, such as her returning home unable to do anything for herself. To be honest, the latter scenario was more frightening than the former.
In either case, how our kids might respond was totally unknown. As the Willie Nelson song says, there are things you never get over but you get through. I would have pushed through out of necessity if nothing else, and my grown son would have adapted somehow in a fairly short time. But a teenage girl without her mother? There was no way I could have navigated her through the next few years alone.
Thankfully, the Lord had another plan. My wife missed Easter, our anniversary, and Mother’s Day before coming home three days later. She could not go outside the house without a wheelchair at first, but in a few weeks she was moving around as well as before or better. By the fall she was back at work, and thanks in part to a significant weight loss she is as healthy as she has been in years, with one exception.
The sickness damaged her kidneys and that appears to be permanent; she now undergoes dialysis three times a week and we have had a preliminary conversation with a doctor about a transplant sometime in the future.
But she is here. Both of us have often said jokingly to each other over the years, “Don’t die on me and leave me alone with these kids.”
Now I see my family at home every day and think about how good God is. We’ll see what His plan holds for the future.