The Intensive Care Unit, The Peace, The Death of One Man and The Sparing of Another, and The Crocus

Signs of life in the Denver Desert

Signs of life in the Denver Desert (Photo credit: mandymooo)

Another hospital stay.  My sweet husband, lungs partially collapsed.  Again.  My sweet husband, unable to move his body on his own, talk, or breathe without technology.  Five days into the stay, things were not going well.  I had thought Jim would have been home by now, but his lung would not cooperate.  On this fifth day, something was different.  Jim looked deflated, sad, pale, and checked out.  His eyes were wide-eyed, crazed in a way, but in general, he was so out of it.  I began to worry, once again starting to think about our children and whether I was handling things alright.  Six years into this health hell, you would think I would have many things figured out, but of course, I do not.  Curveballs are constantly thrown our way.  Confusion about “why” is commonplace.  Dark thoughts creep in often enough.

On this fifth day, I had a phone message waiting on my cell phone.  When I had the opportunity, I listened.  It was a nice message, one from a minister at church who said he was thinking about Jim and me during this period of waiting.  Our years-in-waiting period.  As I listened more, it became evident that he did not know Jim was in the hospital.  I called him back and although it was late in the day, he picked up the phone.  I explained what was happening while holding back tears.  Still, I am sure he could hear it in my voice and asked if he could visit that night.

When he arrived, the room instantly calmed.  His broad smile stimulated a smile on Jim’s face.  His kind words soaked over us both and I felt a peace come over the room.  He spoke of the advent service at the church just hours prior and the reminder that Jesus is the light that came in the darkness.  He reminded us that God is present even in the desert, that rebirth is a promise, and that hope and faith will get you far.

As the minister was speaking, I could hear another patient’s monitor going off.  I looked up at the screen which he shared with Jim and I could see the patient’s heart rate, oxygen levels, and other vital statistics.  I knew this other patient was in trouble.  He had been struggling for several hours.  Then, the  beeping would stop.  The minister continued.  A few minutes later, I could faintly hear the “code blue” in the background.  I was not sure if the minister or Jim were aware.  We continued praying, talking, and peace was in the room with us.  Again, the patient’s vitals came and went and then again several minutes later the “code blue” alarm.  This continued back and forth as our visit went on.  I said nothing out loud, but prayed silently for the patient.  I didn’t want to cause anxiety in Jim, but wondered if he knew what was happening.  The monitors changed again, but this time, the flatline did not bounce back to the normal up and down of an EKG.  It stayed flat.  The numbers went to zero and my heart sank.

A few things struck me.  First, there was a peace in Jim’s room regardless of the stirring going on around us.  Second, I was struck that in one room a patient died and in my room, my husband was spared.  Third, I was reminded that this was the second time this event happened – a death in the ICU directly in the room next to my husband’s room (on the hospital visit prior to this one).  Fourth, I am left to ponder the “why” of it all.

I do not pretend that I will ever understand this, but I do know there is not a coincidence in these events.  Instead, I take these signs as a message from God that He is present, He is all-powerful, and that His will is it.  There must be a plan and ultimately good to come from Jim’s story, presence, and life.  He suffers so, but his perseverance is inspiring.  Jim teaches me much, reminds me of so many blessings we have, and helps us focus on that which is important in life.

The minister read to us a passage from Isaiah 35: 1-2 (NIV), that is telling:

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mary Busch on December 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    So beautifully expressed, Erica. I am so glad you were able to find peace in the middle of the chaos that surrounded you. Yours and Jim’s strength and faith stand as an inspiration to so many of us. God Bless.


  2. Posted by Maria on December 20, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Erica-I am so grateful that the minister heard your voice on the phone and came to visit! You needed that visit! I wish there was something I could do for you…thinking and praying for all 4 of you this holiday season. Love you, Maria


  3. I am so sorry for Jim’s ongoing health problems, Erica. This post is such a good reminder that the Prince of Peace can bring peace in the most difficult situations. God bless you and your family this Christmas season. I will keep Jim in my prayers.


  4. Posted by Susan on December 21, 2013 at 2:53 am

    Beautifully written! I am glad that you and Jim can see God in the midst of this difficult time. Jim wouldn’t remember me but I remember him. Years ago we used to line up at recital to present flowers to our dancers. We often ended up in line with him as we have and an “A” last name and his is “B”. He was there for his sister and niece and we were there for my daughter (and me since I also danced with JIm’s sister). We would laugh and chat as we waited our turn. I will keep you all in my prayers.


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