Wednesday, March 28, 2012
My daughter called. Through the music, the laughter and the roaring pipes of the Harleys, I couldn't hear her well, but I could tell she was hysterical. I walked far out into the field and put an ear plug into my free ear.
Her 18 month old son, Josiah, had fallen down the stairs at my house. They were at the hospital and the news was grim. He had a severely lacerated tongue and scans showed a broken leg, a fractured skull and bleeding in his brain.
Josiah was immediately transferred by ambulance, lights flashing and sirens screaming, to the children's trauma hospital in Portland. I couldn't think. There was nothing I could do but wait and call my dad.
I rarely write of my faith on this blog because it's personal to me and I don't want to offend anyone with differing beliefs. Tonight's an exception to my rule.
I made the call to the only parent I had left since my mother had been killed the year before. In one phone call I had been transported from a mother and grandmother into a child needing my daddy. My dad had no faith in anything he couldn't see, that he couldn't touch. We were raised in an atheistic environment, but I always had this feeling, this faith deep inside my soul.
When Dad answered the phone I began crying as I told him of the events that led to Josiah's hospitalization and what the scans showed. My dad had always been my rock. He hadn't been a good father while my brothers and I were growing up, but since my mother had been tragically taken from him he changed, our relationship changed. He had softened, he grew to know how to give and how to receive love.
He told me not to worry, that Josiah would be fine. He calmed me as I waited for the next call from my daughter. When I got off the phone with him he called Karli. The words he spoke were not the words of a man that refused to believe in faith, in something bigger than himself, they were the words of a believer.
He told her to do what she had told him to do every day since her grandmother was killed 13 months earlier. He told her to pray. He told her that God would not allow a second child of her's to die. The three of us, Karli, Dad and I exchanged many phone calls that night. In each call Dad assured us that Josiah would be fine, that God would hear our pleas. He firmly told us not to worry, but to know the baby would be fine.
A very good friend of mine is a pediatric neurologist. I called her and she jumped into action. She was at the hospital in a flash and was on top of his case. She told me the scans were bad and they didn't know what the outcome would be. His injuries were severe and the bleeding on the brain was at the top of the list.
Soon Josiah began to vomit and he was rushed for emergency scans. When my friend came back into the room with the scans she had the first scans as well and was followed by nearly a dozen awe struck doctors.
She put the first scans up for everyone to see. The scans were horrible. The fracture was clear, as was the blood pooling within his tiny skull. His leg was broken badly. Not a word was spoken as she put up the second scans, there were only gasps.
The second scans showed no fracture, no bleeding and no broken bones. The only thing they could find wrong with the tiny child was his lacerated tongue. She called me as soon as she showed the scans to Karli and her husband. Her words were "I've shown a team of doctors the first and the second scans and we have no explanation for what isn't shown in the second set of scans. Teri, the scans are perfect, Josiah is fine. I have no explanation."
The first thing that next morning I called my father and told him the news. He simply said, "I know." He said it with the conviction of someone that had a hand in the process, he said it clearly and knowingly.
That was the second to the last time I ever spoke with my father. You see, that night, September 13th, 2007, my father died.
When my brother entered my dad's house to check on him that morning he saw Dad's oxygen machine. Dad never went to bed without it. He found his cell phone, something else Dad never went to bed without. He found bowls of water scattered about the house for the dog, bowls that had never been there before.
My brother made his way into the bedroom and found my father dead. He was in a kneeling position beside his bed.
It's my firm belief that my father made a promise that night. My brothers, Karli and I firmly believe, based on our last conversations with him, that my dad made a trade. That he made a deal with God. A deal that if God would spare Josiah's life he would accept Him and would trade his own life for the life of the child.
When I next saw my Dad he was cold and lying in his casket. I kissed him, I hugged him and I thanked him for the trade he had made. I didn't lose my father that night. I gained an eternity with him.