Friday, April 16, 2010

Tulips, Daffodils, and Miracles

The last few days, weeks really, have been cause for lots of reflection, continual prayer, and much gratitude. The weather has been less than temperate with several inches of snow, and winds at gale force just this week, but today I caught an all-too-brief glimpse of something resoundingly Spring. In a little plot near the mailbox at the front of a simple home was a brilliantly blooming flower patch. Rising up in mellow beauty were fully opened daffodils, a delicious butter and lemon color. Just in front of them a clump of scarlet tulips open to the sun, as if spreading arms out wide to welcome and embrace it's warming rays. And in that truncated glimpse, lasting perhaps less-than half a second, joy seeped into my limbs, infused my person, and nestled comfortably in the heart of my soul.

In my mind has been repeating this quote from President Thomas S. Monson, shared some two autumns ago. "Mortality is a period of testing, a time to prove ourselves worthy to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. In order to be tested, we must sometimes face challenges and difficulties. At times there appears to be no light at the tunnels end--no dawn to break the night's darkness...If you find yourself in such a situation, I plead with you to turn to our Heavenly Father in faith. He will lift you and guide you. He will not always take your afflictions from you, but He will comfort and lead you with love through whatever storm you face."

I was not fully aware until just yesterday of all that has been transpiring with my immediate and extended family. Within the last two weeks we have undergone a series of remarkable things.

Miracle One: My great-grandma of 92 fell from her bed and for four days complained of pain until she was taken to the doctor where they found she had broken her neck. They call it the "hangman's break" because it was the break that killed those hanged. Doctors were shocked at her survival, and perplexed in knowing how to treat her. She was too old and frail to survive surgery, and there was no way to simply live with the break, so the result has been putting her in a halo. She's doing fine.

My 17-year-old cousin has been suffering from an unknown ailment since January and went in for surgery this past week. Her situation has not much improved, and is ongoing.

Miracle Two through Seven-thousand two-hundred thirty-six: Then on Tuesday at 2:30 am my aunt (only a year older than my mother) fell out of bed in cardiac arrest. Her husband called 911, and began chest compressions until emergency personnel arrived. A friend of mine is an EMT and was on call that night. She responded on the second bus, and told me the next day, "That was scary." Hearing that from someone who has seen lots of things like this before is humbling. Later she informed me, "That's the only call I've been on where someone coded and actually came back and lived." Drs. informed my uncle yesterday that survival only happens for 10% of people with this condition who have a similar type of episode.

Information trickled in through long hours of silence in sporadic bursts that didn't give much greater insight. MAJOR coronary event. Responding to painful stimuli. Fighting the respirator. Sedated. 

After a long night and life flight to a larger hospital 45 minutes away the diagnosis came back. Cardiomyopathy. Then more waiting. How long was she without oxygen? Will she have a memory? Will she come out of the sedation or slip into a coma? Images of Terri Schiavo flashed through my head. The next morning they decided to start weaning her out of sedation to see if she could breathe on her own. The first drip missed and she woke. She was able to speak and told her husband she loved him. Her memory comes and goes, but overall she's improving. Today they will implant an internal difibrilator, and she may be home as soon as Monday.

Miracle Seven-thousand two-hundred thirty-seven: Wednesday my 16-year-old cousin (brother to he 17-year-old) was driving to a scout event west of town in an area called Three Peaks. He was alone in a truck hauling equipment, following another truckload of boys. While driving he had the impression he was going to slide. Nobody is sure if he hit the brake, the gas, or over-corrected, but the truck rolled several times down an embankment until it landed upright. He was without a scratch, and the truck was still running. He could see the top of the embankment and thought if he gunned it he could make  it back up. He gave it the gas, but miraculously the truck stalled part-way up. It's a miracle because it was not the embankment he thought it was to get to the road. Disoriented by the roll of the truck he was heading straight for a drop off into an old mine. His Bishop came over and said, "You must be the most righteous boy in the ward." Police officers couldn't believe he survived the roll. The truck is totaled. He is a little sore, but otherwise unharmed.

Bless the soul of my grandmother. I've always thought she was special in a saintly kind of way. At eight months pregnant she dealt with the shocking death of her 36-year-old husband, and managed to take her four children to another town and start a new life. I cannot imagine what it must've been like for her to see her daughter in a hospital bed in a situation so closely paralleled to that of her husband. And yet she does not despair. She does not decry her lot and say, "Woe is me. God has forsaken this family." Instead, these are her words, "Aren't we blessed that they only happen one at a time! And everything keeps turning out good." I overheard my mother say, "At night when you pray it seems that all you can say is 'thank you' because of everything that has happened, and you almost feel like you can't ask for anything else because we have been so blessed."

In the midst of all these other dangerous, potentially life-threatening things comes perhaps the sweetest miracle of all. My dear, beautiful friend gave birth to her first child. Paul Edward. He is perfect. Nice chubby cheeks, lots of thick, dark hair, and healthy. 9 lbs 15 oz, 21 1/2 inches long.

At the end of every bitter Winter is a glorious Spring. And even when the late storms encroach on the budding season there are those early bright spots of lemon and scarlet that bring hope. Winter cannot last forever. Winter will not last forever. Spring. Spring will come, and it will be perfect.