Today is our grandson, Benjamin’s, first birthday. It will be a day of celebration and joy enjoyed by many of his loved ones, with sweets and treats, gifts and tokens of love carefully selected to be special to him and his parents. There will be no gift, however, more touching, powerful, or stirring than that I will receive as God grants me the privilege of seeing my wife with my grandson; a blessing I had never even dreamed was possible.
I awoke early yesterday morning with thanksgiving in my thoughts. As I often do, when I realized I was awake, I also realized that I was praying, thanking God for the blessings He has worked in our lives, and for another day to be together. I also found myself thinking back on where we were three years ago; a time that is, gratefully, slowly beginning to lose its piercing pain and fade from its constant presence, and was led to go back and look at the photos from Lea’s time in Hartford Hospital, to remind myself of where we were just three years ago.
Lea was still struggling with regaining strength and control of her muscular system after having been in a coma for so long. She couldn’t walk or even hold a drinking glass. She couldn’t gather enough strength to tear the paper off a drinking straw. She was on a ventilator; her lungs hadn’t recovered from the collaspes caused by her course of treatment. She was trying to regain her memory and full use of her mental functions, although the surgeons said she might not.
Her nurse, Chris Watkins, had bravely lowered her into a cardiac chair, bundled her up, hooked all of her equipment to transmitters, and wheeled her outside the hospital for her first breath of fresh air in three months. She had just taken an overall turn for the worse, and her air ambulance transfer to an Indianapolis hospital had been cancelled for fear that she wouldn’t survive the ordeal. Another nurse, Liz Blair, had taken extra time to help Lea work through another panic attack caused by her recent weaning from the paralyzing narcotics that had kept her physical and mental capacities immobilized.
Our son Lance had just left for a flight back home after spending several days with us. He had brought several small games for his mother to help her regain her abilities, and spent countless hours trying to help her recall the difference between a cat and a dog, or to be able to manipulate her fingers enough to grip and pull two small magnets apart. He had gently combed her hair and put it in a pony tail for her. He shaved her legs, painted her nails, and talked excitedly about the upcoming visit from two of her dearest friends, Shana and Sherri, who were supposed to arrive in a couple of days. Unfortunately, her health took another downturn during their visit, and it was quite disappointing for all of us. It took another two and a half months to be released from the hospital.
As I was led to review the photos from three years ago, I was moved to tears and blubbered mouthings of gratitude and praise for our caregivers, our friends and family who helped in every way they could, the daily doses of strength the Lord provided me, and the release from the horror I constantly felt for those terrible six months. I cried as I recalled the helplessness of those days and nights, and yet, there were two photos the Lord put on my heart and moved me to share these thoughts in praise of His unspeakable love, kindness, grace, and benevolence.
As Lea and I prepare to attend the first birthday party for our grandson, we will be keeping in mind that he is much more than a blessing from our God, he is a reward! We had no idea that there would ever be a grandson in our lives. We couldn’t even think beyond the end of each day during those times. But, the joy we feel today when we are with Benjamin, the glimpses of God’s love we see in his eyes, and the soul-warming promise of his embrace are incredible! The effect on Lea’s mental acuity has been wonderful as she cares for and plays with him. I have been blessed over and over by seeing her recover much of her “old self” in the past year. Praise God!
The photos are of Lance with his mother on October 23, 2005 in Hartford Hospital, and of Lea on October 26, 2005, napping with the stuffed animal Lance had purchased for her. God’s sense of humor, and His hidden promise, are evident in these snapshots, because He knew there was a greater gift in our future.