Archive For October 27, 2021

God Will Provide. God Will be Glorified: The Morning Our Lives Changed Forever

God Will Provide. God Will be Glorified: The Morning Our Lives Changed Forever

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You never know how you’ll respond to an emergency until you’re in an emergency. That morning, I learned — not how would respond to an emergency, but —  how God will respond with and through us, if we allow Him to do so. My natural tendencies, I think, would be to overreact and dramatize. Yet, with the gifted words “God will provide. God be glorified” playing through my head, I remained cool, calm, collected, and filled with peace. I turned to prayer. I was assured and able to reassure.

 

(This post is the second in a series. To read the first post, click here.)

 

More men piled into our family room, and I realized I wore a set of pajamas I’d never, ever consider wearing outside the house. Pushing my embarrassment aside, I followed the police officer into the kitchen to answer his questions. Where had Ray been the evening before? What had done? Might he have used any drugs?

 

With the officer’s queries addressed, I returned to my children, who had moved from the family room to the adjoining living room. They sat on the sofa, skillfully distracted by one of the firemen.

 

“M’am.” Another fireman appeared at my side. “We’re attempting to revive your husband,” he said quietly, so the children wouldn’t hear. “We’ve defibrillated him twice. Each time, his heart has restarted, but it won’t maintain the rhythm.”

 

I nodded and closed my eyes.

 

God will provide. God will be glorified. 

 

“We can’t load him onto the ambulance until he’s stable,” the fireman continued. “We’ll keep trying. When we do move him, we’ll need to bring him through the front door.”

 

I nodded, slow on the uptake.

 

“You might want to take the children to another room.”

 

I stared dumbly up at the man.

 

“So they don’t see him when we bring him through, m’am,” he clarified. “It might be upsetting.”

 

I nodded, and, after a moment’s hesitation, ushered the kids back to our tiny master bedroom.  We sat together on the bed and began to pray more Hail Mary’s.

 

Before long, the child-entertaining fireman appeared in the doorway.

 

“They’ve loaded your husband onto the ambulance,” he informed me, “and are taking him to St. Vincent’s Hospital. You can go to the emergency room there.”

 

As quickly as they had arrived, all the strange men were gone from our home. I sent the kids to get dressed and hurried to change into something more presentable. I called my parents. It wasn’t even four a.m, but they answered. I told them what little I knew, and asked them to meet me at the emergency room.

 

I texted a friend who had an early adoration shift on Thursday mornings to ask for her prayers. I texted others who I knew rose early to pray. Another friend, Erin, having woken in the middle of the night, randomly sent me a Pinterest link. I responded with our news, adding her to our prayer chain, and asking her to spread the word of our need for prayer. I realized the dog had escaped during the commotion and, when a neighbor appeared to see how he could help, sent him on a mission to locate the dog. The kids and I piled into the car and headed to the hospital.

 

God will provide. God will be glorified. The words persisted. The peace remained.

 

We arrived at the emergency room and were escorted to a private waiting room. My parents joined us. A staff person delivered Pop Tarts and apple juice to the kids. A doctor entered the room.

 

“I’m Dr. K–, the cardiologist on staff this morning,” he said. “Your husband was defibrillated a total of eight times: three while he was still in your home, twice in the ambulance, and three more times in the emergency room. His LAD artery, commonly known as the “widow maker,” was 100% blocked. I was able to clear the blockage and place a stent. Your husband’s heart is now operating at near-normal levels.”

 

There was a “but” behind his words, and I understood it perfectly. Ray had been without oxygen for a long time. Having worked with developmentally disabled adults after college, I knew what a lack of oxygen could do.

 

“Mrs. Engelman,” the doctor asked, “do you have any idea how long your husband wasn’t breathing, before you started chest compressions?”

 

I reviewed the early morning events with the doctor. I had heard those terrible breaths, but I thought it was sleep apnea. I had waited several minutes, maybe more, before responding. Not only that, I had learned upon the 911 operator’s instructions that I’d been doing the compressions wrong. For those several moments, I hadn’t even been effectively pumping air into his lungs.

 

“Three minutes? Five minutes? Ten?” I couldn’t be sure.

 

The doctor probed. I looked at my phone, knowing only that I’d woken at three on the dot. Twenty minutes had transpired between my waking and placing the 911 call, immediately after which I’d begun the faulty-but-better-than-nothing chest compressions. How many minutes, though, between Ray’s last breath and that phone call?

 

Ultimately, it didn’t matter. The result was the same. Ray’s heart might be functioning, but his brain, deprived of oxygen for that indeterminate length of time, was not. He was not waking up, and not responding to stimuli. They were not sure whether he even had enough brain capacity to maintain the most basic of bodily functions. They were also unsure whether his kidneys and other organs might have been damaged, as well.  

 

“We have your husband on life support,” the doctor said. “All we can do now is wait and see.”

 

“And pray,” I added.

 

“Yes, you can absolutely do that,” he said. “That’s the most important thing.”

 

I breathed a sigh of relief. There’s a lot to be said for the knowledge that your loved one is in the care of someone who believes in the Higher Being, and in the power of prayer.

 

My parents left to take the kids home. I waited, alone. I made phone calls to Ray’s family and contact our parish to request a visit from the priest. Ray was moved to cardiac ICU. Medications were administered that would keep him asleep, also helping to ensure the best possible outcome. Capitalizing on research that had been popularized only months prior, Ray’s body was cooled to several degrees below its normal temperature to help aid in the healing of his brain. I held his cold hand, knowing that he did not feel the cold. Still, my heart ached for him. “He’s always hated being cold,” I told one of the countless nursing staff who flocked around his bed.

 

Our priest arrived. He spoke with me briefly and administered extreme unction.

 

“We assume that he had contrition for his sins,” the priest explained when I expressed concern at the length of time since Ray’s last confession. “And we trust his sins will be forgiven.”

 

Ray’s life still hung in the balance, but his eternal life was assured.

 

God will provide. God will be glorified. 

 

Slowly, Our Lord’s providence began to unfold.

 

 

Stay tuned for installment three in this series.

 

Related posts:

God Will Provide. God Will Be Glorified. Part 1

At this Most Difficult Hour, 7 Things I’m Grateful For

A Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

Patience

God Will Provide. God Will Be Glorified: The Night My Husband Suffered a Near-Fatal Heart Attack

God Will Provide. God Will Be Glorified: The Night My Husband Suffered a Near-Fatal Heart Attack

The night began much like any other. We ate dinner. My husband, Ray, took our oldest to an activity. I cleaned up the kitchen and got the younger kids to bed. Our 8-month-old, fondly known as “Little Man” refused to sleep. Ray drove him around in the car until he finally nodded off in his car seat. Once they were back home, Ray went to a friend’s house for a quick visit.

I was watching the first episode of Call the Midwife when Ray returned. He finished the episode with me, I kissed him goodnight, and headed to the back of our little house to get ready for bed. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, took out my contacts. For whatever reason, I felt compelled to go back and give Ray another kiss before going to sleep. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was, perhaps, the most important kiss of my life, the last kiss I would share with that version of my husband.

A light sleeper, I was vaguely aware when Ray got out of bed several hours later. I didn’t think anything of it and strove to go back to sleep. Little Man, still in his carseat in the corner of our room, had other plans, however. Daddy’s movement had woken him, and he was ready to nurse. I noted the time: three o’clock, on the dot. I rose from bed and carried the baby to the family room.

To my surprise, Ray was lying in the middle of the family room floor, in the exact spot where he always cracked his back. That man can fall asleep anywhere, I chuckled to myself.

Unconcerned, thinking he’d simply dozed off while trying to twist his vertebrae back into alignment, I settled into the rocking chair and began to nurse our son. A few minutes passed, maybe more.

KKKRRRETTTCCHH. The sound tore from Ray’s lungs, unlike any I had ever heard before.

Wow, I thought. That must be sleep apnea. I’ve never heard Ray do that before.

Making a mental note to talk with Ray about it in the morning, I rested my head on the rocking chair’s cushion. Sleep apnea being fairly common, I relaxed, still relatively unconcerned.

KUK – KUK – KUK. Turned to a stacatto, Ray’s strange breathing stuttered across the room.

Holy moly. That’s bad. We need to schedule a doctor’s appointment — tomorrow!

Ray was forty-three, though, and seemingly healthy. Other than the ongoing back pain, he’d not complained of any ailments. Still, as I sat there in the quiet, child contentedly suckling at my breast, I realized that I couldn’t see Ray’s chest rising and falling. The lighting was dim, though, and he was several yards away. Would I be able to see the gentle movement of his lungs?

I couldn’t hear his breathing, either. Again, though, he was all the way across the room. Should I be able to hear him? I wasn’t at all sure that I should, and I was loathe to disturb the near-slumber of a nursing babe. Paranoia would be a sorry excuse for the hours of wakefulness that would likely ensue.

Still, the worry persisted. I watched Ray carefully, ears straining for the slightest hint of an exhalation. Finally, I raised the child to my shoulder and stood from my chair. I padded over to where Ray rested on the floor and, using my bare foot, nudged him gently in the side.

No response. That was no surprise, though, given how soundly the man could sleep. I nudged him again, harder this time.

Still, no response.

This time, I didn’t hold back. Using the flat underside of my foot, I pushed hard on his hip bone. His body moved ever-so-slightly, but Ray showed no sign of waking.

In that instant, I understood that my husband, my best friend, the father of our children, and the sole provider for our family, lay lifeless before me. In the same instant, peace surpassing all understanding descended upon me.

God will provide. God will be glorified. 

The words, I know, were not my own. Rather, they were a gift of the Holy Spirit, whose spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary, I envision urging Him on. (“Stephanie’s one of mine,” I imagine Mary saying to Him. “Please go take care of her.” And He did.)

The gift-words continued as I hurried to my phone and dialed 911. God will provide. God will be glorified. 

The litany played, and comfort and peace remained, as I set our son on the floor a few feet away, as I straddled my husband and began chest compressions.

The 911 operator’s voice pierced the silence from where my phone lay nearby on the floor, set to speaker mode. I gave her the necessary information and told her I had already started compressions.

God will provide. God will be glorified. The surreal background music lilted beneath the sound of her instructions. “I need you to count with me while you do each compression. One. Two. Three. Four …”

“One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight,” I recited obediently, pumping Ray’s chest with each count. “One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight.”

What good is it to count numbers, I realized fiercely. I should be praying. Maintaining the beat as I’d been instructed by the voice issuing from my phone, I changed the words that corresponded.

Hail. Mary. Full. of Grace. The Lord. Is with. Thee.

I don’t remember whether I completed the full prayer, or whether I simply repeated the angelic salutation again and again and again. I know only that I prayed, reaching out to the Mother in whose care I trusted completely, begging her intercession for my husband, myself, and my family.**

The older children came scampering into the room, woken by the sound of the 911 call.

“Mommy! Mommy!” One of them cried. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know,” I answered calmly. “Get on your knees. Pray.”

With no further questions, the children fell to their knees in a semicircle around their father. “Hail. Mary. Full. of Grace.”

The operator’s voice crackled across the line. The fire truck was nearby.

“Zach,” I ordered our eleven-year-old son, “go unlock the door and make sure the front porch light is on.”

He did as he was told. Concerned that the firefighters would not be able to see our unlit drive on the darkened street, the child, who was afraid of the dark, who generally refused to be alone after night-fall, ran down the acre’s length of our front drive in the pitch-black of night, clothed that cold November morning in nothing but shorts, to stand on the street and flag the firetruck down.

Hail. Mary. Full. of Grace. Before I knew it, a man stood behind me.

“I can take it from here, m’am.”

Still, I pumped, afraid that leaving Ray for even a moment would deprive him of the oxygen I knew he needed.

The man touched my shoulder. “I can take care of him, m’am.”

I rose reluctantly and gave up responsibility for my husband’s well-being. I took a few steps back, and the children rushed into my arms.

“Mommy, is Daddy going to be okay?” one of them asked.

God will provide. God will be glorified. The words, having been silenced by the commotion of the last few minutes, rose again.

“I don’t know,” I answered with certainty. “But you have a Father in Heaven who loves you very much. He will take care of you, and He will take care of Daddy.”

I didn’t know how, or what it would look like, but I knew my words were true. God would provide. And, somehow, some way, God would be glorified.

****

Has God provided for you or your family in remarkable ways? Have you witnessed Him glorified? Please share your stories in the comments!

 

Stay tuned for the next installment of the story very soon: The Morning Our Lives Changed Forever

 

**That morning would have been the worst morning of my life, had it not been for the “peace that surpasses all understanding,” which was given to me in Christ Jesus. Moreover, I believe that I was the recipient of that unimaginable grace not because of anything I’d done or any wonderful faith I’d practiced. I believe it was thanks to my consecration to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In having given myself completely to Mother Mary, that she might make of me a worthy offering to her Son, Jesus Christ, I believed — and continue to believe — that I would be placed under her very special protection. Similar to the Wedding at Cana, she didn’t tell Him what to do, but trusted that, at her request, He would take care of it. He did, and, rather than distress, I experienced indescribable peace. Thanks be to God.

That’s my little push for Marian Consecration, which I hope you’ll prayerfully consider for yourself if you’re not already consecrated. If you are, I encourage you to renew that consecration. I’m renewing mine now, and it’s been the most profound, fruitful consecration I’ve done to date!

I’d also offer up this simple prayer, given to Fr. Dolindo: Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything!

 

Related posts:

At this Most Difficult Hour, 7 Things I’m Grateful For

A Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

Patience

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