Monday, January 4, 2016

Hospitals and Rainbows

Oh, how one phone call can change everything.  We were up in the Tahoe/Carson City area, just our family of four, enjoying some time away after our college student and high school student finished finals and my dad was home from skilled nursing as he was recovering from a broken hip.  The weather was snowy and beautiful, we were loving our time together in one of our favorite places, and had enjoyed a wonderful dinner the night before with one of our most favorite people.  I slept in for the first time in months.  Then I looked at my cell phone upon waking.  Three missed calls from my Texan brother who had arrived at my parents’ house for Christmastime just 36 hours before.  I felt my stomach drop.  I called back.  I could hear it in his voice before he said anything concrete.  We had to come and come now.  Dad was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. 

We were four hours away by car in the best of weather.  It was December and anything but the best of weather and road conditions.  We woke the kids and pulled out of the hotel we were planning to make our home for the next day and a half.  As we drove, I kept trying to talk myself into being ok.  I had passed many, many hours in hospitals with my dad these past few months, but every time, against the odds, he rallied and went home sooner than expected.  He would rally again, right?  I looked toward the mountains on our left and saw an amazing rainbow.  Nice, I thought.  Not something I see every day, but I could hear the edge of a whisper to my anxious heart: “I’m here, I’m faithful, and I’ve got this.”  Good reminder, but quickly forgotten in my distraction and fear. 

We kept driving and I kept trying not to think too much.  We labored through snow and rain over the I-80 pass and started back down through the mountains, toward the hospital where my parents and now all of my siblings were keeping watch together.  I was kept up to date through texts and calls from my sister in law.  It didn’t look good.  One last ditch effort treatment, she said.  That set my mind spinning, pulling me into the space I was not prepared to go.  No.  Not how this was supposed to be…and then Grace said, “Hey, look!”  I turned in the direction she was pointing and saw it:  piercing through clouds in an unlikely patch of rain streaked sunlight was a full double rainbow.  Really?  Twice in one day?   He reminded my heart again, a little louder, “I’m here, I’m faithful, and I’ve got this.” 

With my husband’s efforts to drive as quickly and safely as possible getting us closer and closer to the hospital where my dad was fighting for his life, I prayed that I wouldn’t get anymore texts or calls until we were there.  And then.  “The treatment didn’t work.  He’s not going to make it” showed up on my phone.  And all the oxygen left the car.  I looked up again, not knowing what to say.  And again He spoke.  Another full double rainbow outside my window.  “I’m here, I’m faithful, and I’ve got this.”  I knew then (because the other two times weren’t quite enough for me) that “I’ve got this” might not look like I wanted it to, but it would ultimately be ok.  Truly.  Just because it wasn’t the outcome I wanted, with my Dad once again rallying and coming home in time for Christmas, didn’t mean God didn’t have this in His hands.  Because He has me.  And He has my family.  And He has my dad. 

About 45 minutes away from the hospital I got the message “He’s gone.”  My heart broke. There were no words.  But as we walked into that ER private room where all my family surrounded the physical form that carried my dad for 88 years, I could still hear the whisper in my heart: “I’m here.  I’m faithful.  I’ve got him.”  

In the nearly two weeks since this happened we have mourned, cried, and buried my Dad.  We have grieved together and experienced the kindness and sympathy of so many around us.  And through all this I have held close to my heart these words:

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
-Psalm  34:18

I know He will be present, faithful, and hold us close as we walk into these next days and years.  It doesn't always look the way I think it should, but as long as He is close by, I will walk in confidence.

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