Mom’s and Dad’s hands.
Do you believe in miracles? I do. I’ve stood in the middle of one in the last few weeks. Of course, sometimes as human beings attempting to explain the unexplainable, we soften the words, which takes away some of the impact. I do not want to diminish what I’ve experienced by putting my feelings into words. But what I’ve seen with my own eyes and felt in my own heart needs to be expressed. I feel compelled to share. I know I’m treading upon hallowed ground here, and usually I am very careful with my word choices because I have a wide range of friends and acquaintances with many differences and beliefs. It is my desire to live a life that impacts each in a positive way as much as possible, and not divide. Because what good am I if I cause division, when a softer word might turn it away? Unity is ultimately my desire. Therefore, I normally keep my spiritual beliefs where they belong — in my heart. Except sometimes, they need to spill over. Because maybe you need to be encouraged.
Sometimes the raw truth is the only way to express a thing. And that is what I am dealing with here. If you would like to experience my miracle by reading about it, read on.
On January 19 my dear father died of a heart attack. He was unresponsive for about 45 minutes, the rescue workers say. They performed CPR and finally got his heart beating and breath in his lungs. No one in our family was with him at that point. Thankfully, a nurse found his phone in his truck and dialed the last number dialed, my brother. We were soon on our way to be with Dad. My youngest brother made it to him first, in less than an hour.
My dad is a man of great faith. His light shines everywhere he goes. He is not afraid to speak out about it, either. But he doesn’t often have to. He lives it. Love spills out of him in buckets to all. He has a special gift with people — all kinds, great and small — many of the lovely and unlovely beings of the world. That’s called unconditional love. My dad is the epitome of that title.
Me? Not so much. I can hold a grudge for ages. I can say that I’ve let something go, and even convince myself I have, but I’ll find myself dealing with past wounds over and over. I want to be like my dad. I wonder how he got to the place he did? He has surely borne as much pain in his life as me. More, I know for sure. Yet he is supreme at that forgive-and-forget-thing. Like he says, “like water off a duck’s back.” Yep. Wish I could.
But there we all were, finally gathered around my dad’s hospital bed, praying for a miracle. We had one at that moment, the fact that he was with us, the circumstances of the day … All of it overwhelming. He pushed on through the first day and into the night. But somehow, on my shift to stay the night of the 20th, in spite of my prayers and those surrounding me by our loved ones holding us up with their faith, he started to slip away from us again. His heart stopped twice. And by myself until family could reach us again, I had to instruct the medical team to revive him. They wanted me to go to the waiting room. “I’m standing right here,” I said. Desperate to hold onto my faith, I felt small and alone at that moment. Scarcely able to breathe myself, tears spilling uncontrollably, I remember tipping my head back at one point and howling into the ceiling, “Daddy!” Like that could call him back ….
When family arrived, the hospital staff expected us to say our good-byes. About ten of us held hands around his bedside and talked to Dad, sang to him, prayed, told him everything we could fit of a lifetime into a few minutes.
Individually, we are a bunch of hard-headed, hard-working, strong-willed, powerhouses in our own rights — every bit of it passed through strong genes and pioneering souls. But at that moment, we were losing our patriarch. Our rock. The glue of our family.
Mom’s prayer went something like this: “God, he’s my best friend. Dale, you’re my best friend. (They are coming up on 61 years of marriage.) I love you. God, I don’t want to let him go, I want him to live. But, if it’s time for him to go and be with You, then we will say, Your will be done.”
That is when the tide turned. I saw it. Each one of us, in our individuality, our own reasons why we wanted to keep Dad with us, with our own powers and weaknesses, strengths and failings, we each stepped up a little closer and I know for sure that each one moved into loving Dad with everything he ever put into us, and then some, because we united for one cause. And that was to let our love for him spill into him more than it ever had. And we continued to pray the prayer of faith, with that love carrying us.
I don’t want to say that we had given up and were ready for death. But that is some powerful stuff, to deal with life and death. Each of us, my mom, brothers, my daughters, one of my sons-in-law, sister-in-law, niece and nephews, and everyone else in the room moved into loving Dad with all of our might. We prayed to the God that Dad loves and serves so beautifully — each of us — in our failing human state — far from perfect. But full of love, love for Dad that came to life in each one of us.
Each one did and said beautiful things. My oldest stood tirelessly, her baby due in days, patiently holding Dad’s hands and gently applying essential oils. My youngest stood rock solid and sang favorite songs to him. My other daughter, one of the last to arrive, walked into the room, bent down into her Papa’s face and said straight out, “It’s not time for him to go!” And Dad snapped his eyes open like a lightning bolt and looked right into her eyes.
I knew he was back with us from that exact moment.
It’s not what she did or said was any different from what any one of us gathered around him were thinking or saying. But it was rather like a catalyst. It mixed with the rest of the material of faith that each one of us held in our hearts and our eyes and our hands for the love of that man and what he meant to us.
And I believe with all my heart that God reached down and said, “In your weakness, I am strong.” He showed us that life is His will.
The words, “one accord” keep running through my mind. We were in one accord, more than any time we’ve ever all been together. We were more full of love, perfect love, than any time I’ve ever experienced it. And God took that, and mixed what we offered up with His grace, and it was done. Dad lived.
The doctors thought he would be brain dead. But miracles continue to occur. Dad is astounding. His brain waves are normal, he’s overcome hurdle after hurdle, baffled doctors, and had a steady string of hospital staff stopping in to take a look at this miracle man. And Dad usually figures out a way to shine. He passes out smiles like lollipops and compliments and encourages tired workers. He’s amazing.
I hardly feel I’ve done the miracle the justice I wanted to express. I think I’ll have to write about this in pieces. There is so much that comes to the light when you call on the light in all power. It brings things out that were covered up, lurking in the shadows — not-so-pretty-stuff that wants to take away the joy of the moment.
Human beings are so flawed. I am one, far, far from perfect. I don’t know why sometimes miracles occur and then, sometimes, they do not. All I know is that we got one that day. A big one. And I am grateful.
There are other steps to take. More promises to keep. And quite a bit of living to pack into the time we’ve been given with our treasure — my dad. The weight of reality and everyday life after facing the miraculous can seem so dreary. We should have a spring in our steps and undying enthusiasm, right? Yes. That thankfulness has to inhabit human flesh. I am holding onto hope with all I have in me. I want to change — be more like my dad and love the way he loves. I want to live like I’m thankful for this gift. I am.