Four years ago today, I may have died…for a minute. I was awfully close if I didn’t.
I was on my 7th day of heavy sedation, in a coma, after being admitted to the hospital a week before for double pneumonia that went south very, very rapidly. One day I’ll write a complete story about all my experiences and you can read all the gory details, if you don’t know them already. But February 5th, 2011, was a dark day for me, even though I was in la-la land and had no idea what was happening. But it was a double-dark day for David and the rest of my family. On that day, the doctor told David he wasn’t sure I was going to make it.
I was in what David calls the “Red Zone”…I was alive, but just barely. And the various means of monitoring my health gave no indication that I was ever going to get better. He was told that I was experiencing ARDS — Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (and that diagnosis came after LOTS of trial and error to figure out the cause of my downward spiral).
I had also developed septic shock…my internal organs were on red alert and any or all of them could begin failing at any moment. My lungs were becoming “stiff” and “brittle” and weren’t accepting the oxygen being pumped into them. But thank God, the next day was the “turnaround” everyone was hoping and praying for…and I’ve never looked back.
Have you ever been that close to death? Have you ever seen your life flash before your eyes? (I still experience that from time to time while riding in the car with David.) As I said, I didn’t KNOW I was close to death, but I’ve been told about it enough to feel like I actually experienced it.
It’s an eye-opening experience. To know that God’s not finished with you yet. That His “big picture” has you in it. That He still has a reason for you to sit up, take nourishment and breathe in and out. Some days, I still wonder what that reason is for me. And on others, I know exactly why He let me stay around at least four more years.
Every day is a gift. That’s not a cliche. That’s a fact, Jack! We are all, every one of us, living on borrowed time. Or as I’d rather say it, we are all living on gifted time. Every moment of restful sleep: a gift. Every full, deep breath: a gift. Every mile traveled: a gift. Every bite of food: a gift. Every minute of physical activity: a gift. Every step: a gift. Every, every, every thing: a gift.
We take these things for granted. Not on purpose. We’re not mean. We are just forgetful, us human earth people. We forget that life is fragile; that it is a mere vapor, like the fog of our breath on a window on a cold winter day. It’s there; then it’s gone. No matter if we live to be 99, or 49.
I love the way the Message Paraphrase words Psalm 144:3-4…“I wonder why you care, God—why do you bother with us at all? All we are is a puff of air; we’re like shadows in a campfire.”
God does care. Oh, my…so much. He memorizes every breath we take…after all, he is the One giving them to us. He knows every line on our face. Every scar on our body. He counts every beat of our heart. He knows how many hairs are on our head. He watches every step we take. He catches every tear we cry in a bottle.
In our lowest of low moments, when we are feeling sorry for ourselves, or we are feeling down on ourselves, we wonder if anyone really cares. God does. My God was there with me in those lowest moments when I was near death. I know He was.
My sister wrote little letters to me while I was “away” and on that fateful February 5th day, she wrote something that has stuck with me. When wondering about my asleepness, she wrote:
“I wonder if you hear stuff around you. Will you know we’re there? Mom said you’d be mortified to know that a male nurse is bathing you. I told her, if he’s handsome, you’ll be mortified that you’re missing it. 🙂
“What goes through your mind? Are you in a deep dream? Feel like a hallucination? I pray that God is ministering to you and that He is spending sweet time with you.”
I believe with all my heart, beyond the shadow of a doubt, He was. I believe in my darkest moment, God was right there with me. He loved me. He knew me.He knew where I was and what I was going through. He looked into my past 49+ years and saw the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the good, the bad, the ugly. The loves, the fears, the wins, the losses. The laughs and the cries. The strengths and the weaknesses. But I also believe He looked into my future “however-many” years, and saw all the same things. And he said, “Yeah…I’m not done with you yet, LeeLee”.
And on Valentines Day of 2011, I woke up. And lived. And to this day, I still am. I am grateful for the time I have, however long that may be. I have things to do, y’all. And so do you. So let’s get to doing them. Time is short.