One year ago today, I got a phone call that I will never forget. The call was actually to my husband’s phone, but I happened to be sitting right there on the couch with him. “Weird”, I thought. “Why is Sara calling Aaron and not me?” He answered, and I immediately knew something was wrong. In true “big sister” fashion, Sara had called Aaron to break the news to him first so that he could tell me in person. Our daddy had a heart attack. My mind immediately raced. Is he okay? When? Where is he? How did it happen? I just saw him yesterday! She calmly assured me that he was okay, and that she and mom were following the ambulance to the Rush Hospital. That phone call started a chain of events that would unfold over the next 6 weeks that my family never expected.
Aaron, Turner and I had been on vacation in Florida the previous week and had stopped in Mississippi to spend Friday (the day before the heart attack) with my parents before heading back to Texas. Since we had just gotten back to Texas about 10 hours earlier, I wasn’t sure what to do. Do we get back in the car and drive back to Mississippi? Do I fly there? Do I need to go at all? My mom and sister told me to sit tight and that they would call me when they had an update. I paced the house the rest of the day and tried not to let my mind drift to the worst case scenario. I also tried not to let Turner see me cry. I read scriptures and prayed non-stop. I clung to the phone, desperate for an update.
When I hadn’t heard anything for a while, I called one of my dad’s sisters. This was quite possibly the worst phone call of my life. At that very moment, they had just received word that Daddy was in distress after the stent procedure. He was coughing up blood and couldn’t breathe. His body began swelling abnormally. The hospital staff had to intubate him and they were unsure of what was happening. We thought he was going to die. I later found out that he actually had died (coded) more than once.
I remember falling to the bedroom floor clutching on to a pillow and crying/screaming out to God to save my daddy’s life. I wept and prayed like never before. Eventually, I couldn’t even find the words to pray anymore, but I knew that God understood (Romans 8:26). I talked to Sara on the phone, and she and I cried together. She managed to pull herself together and convinced me that I needed to do the same. I was so physically ill that night that I lost about 4 pounds. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and just felt utterly helpless since I was 500 miles away. I bought a plane ticket that night, but the first flight that I could get wasn’t until Monday morning.
Sunday was agonizing. It was finally determined that Daddy had an allergic reaction to one of the blood thinners that he had received. His body was swollen so much that he was unrecognizable. He was unconscious and was still bleeding internally. Although his heart was stable, the rest of his body was essentially failing. The swelling in his body was unbelievable. If I remember correctly, I think he had 40+ pounds of extra fluid. My sister said that the CCU waiting room overflowed with friends and family members, and I wanted so badly to be there with them. My flight the next day couldn’t come soon enough.
To be continued tomorrow in Part 2
Songs that were so helpful to me:
It is Well – Bethel Music Version -“Let go my soul and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know His name…”
Just One Touch – “Just one touch can heal this life and change it for forever. Just one touch can calm this storm and tell my soul be still…”