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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!

 

Click here for the next post in this series: 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

Awesome Gifts for Everyone on Your List

Awesome Gifts for Everyone on Your List

If you’d rather avoid the mall craziness, allow me to assist by providing gift-giving recommendations that will pretty well cover everyone on your list — even the most difficult people to shop for will love these gifts!

The perfect gift for every jewelry-loving female, shopping at Sunny D’s Marketplace on Etsy is an exercise of sheer delight. Artisan Sunny Dugas combines classical elements of our faith – from crosses to crucifixes, miraculous medals to descending doves – with creative bead work. The result is timeless, beautiful, and inspiring. Best part? It’s affordable too, with items ranging from $10 to $75. This means that — ding! ding! ding! —  St. Nick can even put Sunny’s creations in a feast day shoe or Christmas morn stocking!

Since meeting Sunny at a conference in Chicago, her Etsy shop has been my go-to place for faith-filled jewelry. I wear one of her creations nearly every day, and invariably receive compliments on them.

True proof of my love for her shop: I ordered three more things when (disclaimer) she offered to send a free item in exchange for a favorable review on my blog. Several friends have something gorgeous to look forward to!

Male, Female, Young, Old... Everyone Wears Socks!

Anyone who knows me knows I’m pretty much a total tight-wad (out of sheer necessity if nothing else!) That’s why one and all should be shocked at the fact that I walked out of last year’s Awaken Christmas Boutique with $140 worth of saint socks.

Yes. I kid you not. I spent $140 on saint socks. And it was worth every penny. I bought St. Joseph socks for my pastor and associate pastor, both of whom are named Joseph. I bought St. Michael socks for my boys’ St Nicholas day gifts, Our Lady of Lourdes socks for my girls, and St. JPII socks for my nephew John Paul. I bought St. Therese of Lisieux socks for my friend who’s devoted to her. When I learned she already had a pair, I got her something else and kept the socks for myself! And I’d already bought myself some rosary socks – of course!

These things are comfy, they’re versatile, and they’re SAINT SOCKS! What more must I say?

Teens Who Love to Read

In today’s moral climate, I find myself experiencing a large dose of trepidation with every book my kids bring home. I often sneak onto Amazon to read the summary and reviews, hoping to surmise if it’s another of those books that’s sneaking some un-wanted agenda into my kids’ daily reading. Even with that due diligence, the only way to be 100% sure is to read the book myself — which I hardly have time for!

Fortunately, there are resources to help narrow down the mine-field and find the clear path through
to great reading. Catholic Teen Books is one such resource. I’ve read many of their books and never been disappointed. They are my go-to when finding books for my own children.

A few favorites:

  • For middle school boys: AJ Cattapan’s Seven Riddles to Nowhere
  • For middle school girls: Carmela Martino’s Rosa Sola
  • For young women who love romance: Carolyn Astfalk’s Ornamental Graces
  • For anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games: Corinna Turner’s I Am Margaret series
  • For anyone who wants to learn what true heroism is: Treachery & Truth by Katie Jones
  • For high school boys: Battle for His Soul by Theresa Linden (Winner of the 2017 Catholic Press Assoc. Award!)

The

For the Person Whose Memories You Cherish

Finally, for the person who has everything — including countless memories — why not memorialize those memories with a personal history written by yours truly?

During this extremely fun and rewarding process, I spend time with the individual to learn the stories of their lives. The joys, triumphs, sorrows, and challenges – you name it! The interview process alone is a gift, since pretty much everyone loves to talk about themselves! That’s hardly the extent of the gift, however. I take those stories and craft them into a well-written, beautifully formatted  hard cover book, complete with photos. It’s a treasure that will be cherished for generations to come!

“Love the book!” and “The book is awesome!” are recent reviews, but “myself and my family will forever be connected to you” was the one that really touched my heart.

If you’d like to learn more, check out my personal history website, and feel free to message me via the contact button here, on Facebook, or on the website above ^^.

 

This post includes affiliate links.

 

 

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Awaken to the Best Talk Postponed

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The Crucifix: Inspiration for Repentance and Love

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The crickets have been chirping over here at A Few Beads Short, which probably has many of you wondering how Ray is doing following his heart attack and brain injury (injuries, actually). So here goes… Ray’s doing well. Like, really, miraculously, incredibly well. I have to remind myself of that every day, and look back…

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