In the days that followed, I received positive updates. My son’s dad was improving on many accounts but each time the nurse reported this, there was surprise on her part with a firm confirmation that he would have to change his lifestyle or he wouldn’t make it out of a convalescent hospital. The words of my nephew’s wife – I guess that makes her my niece – surfaced: “He told me before they put him under that when he made it through this he was going to change his life.”
Surely that meant he had tomorrow, I assured myself.
The days turned into two more weeks, and my soul began to be troubled as I hadn’t heard from anyone about his condition. Was he still in a medically-induced coma? Surely that wouldn’t be, couldn’t be good. I sought answers from friends in the medical field who assured me that the coma would help with healing. I pushed what troubled me back into the hallway closet of my heart.
It wasn’t until we were driving up north to take our grandson back home and be part of his first day of kindergarten that I was prompted to text my nephew. Five minutes later, my phone rang; it was him.
“Funny you should text me,” he said. “I just got out of a meeting with the doctors.”
He continued: “It’s not good.”
My heart sank to the floorboard of the truck, his words going as fast as the miles gone behind me, slowing down when he came to the final conclusion: “So they are going to turn all the machines off and we have to let him go.”
Nooooooooooo, I screamed silently. My heart and thoughts just wouldn’t make the connection and that refusal turned the faucet of tears on and they flowed. I cried over the tragic waste of it all, all that he had lost, even more what my son had lost, and any and all opportunity of looking this man in the face, soul to soul to offer empathy, understanding, affirmation and forgiveness…gone. I didn’t have tomorrow. I couldn’t stop crying and for the next hour, anytime the tears would seem to abate, a thought would come crashing into my heart, taking me back, forcing more tears to the surface. Finally I dozed off, emotionally exhausted.
“I’ve already taken him up.”
I jumped, somewhat in a confused haze, looked around to George who sat driving, his eyes on the road, silent. I looked around at the brown lifeless hills surrounding the stretch of road on either side. I shook my head and as if to tell myself it must have been a dream, I shared with George the words I heard. They lay there in the air…floating away with no response, leaving me to think I must have just been dreaming, wishful thinking. I had sent my son a text message after trying to call him…he responded by saying he didn’t want to talk about it, couldn’t talk about it and his final sentence squeezed my heart, making me yearn to be there with him, frustrating me even more because I couldn’t; he was so far away. He said: “I’m just glad I have my mom. I love you.”
I tried to busy myself by playing games on my phone, reading, lost in a sea of memories, clarity keeping me present.
Two and a half hours later, I received a text message telling me he had passed! My heart lurched especially as a realization hit…hard: they said he had passed a couple hours prior…before my “dream!” I have to believe that though I didn’t get tomorrow to tell him all that I wanted, and neither did my son, that I will see him in my forever tomorrows. I am comforted knowing he is no longer running from his past, allowing it to dictate his choices, robbing him from the ability to be loved and to love.
In the meantime, Coffee hour friend, let me just share from my heart to yours, if there is something or someone you are running from, STOP! Find someone to share it with; learn what you need to learn to unpack it, to let go of those things that rip you off from the love of family, friends and most importantly, the reality of the necessity of the love and grace of a loving Savior. And if there’s something you haven’t told someone you care about, tell them! Don’t wait until tomorrow for tomorrow may not come…for them…or for you!