I’m waiting, along with many others, for news about a dear woman who went into cardiac arrest last week, and is in a coma as a result. The day they warmed her back up from the induced hypothermia (used to minimize oxygen demands on the brain while healing from CPR), her reflexes were present. The next day, she was following commands to squeeze her husband’s hand, and raise her elbow off of the bed. That sounded good. Daily reports were coming in, and while nothing else major was happening, there was a hopeful tone to the reports. Then Sunday, there was no word on her condition. Monday, there was information that she was struggling, and last night, the neurologist had done a test and met with the family early this morning. When the time is right, information will be shared about what that was about. As an RN, I can’t think of a lot of ‘good’ since there had been little positive news for a few days. I remember working on a neuro floor, and when the docs met with the families, there were major, and permanent decisions to be made. Occasionally, there would be some other treatment option, but not usually.
As I’ve been mulling all of this over for the past week, I’ve had so many emotions. Anybody who was a camper or on staff at Timber-lee Christian Center in East Troy, WI would have been directly or indirectly impacted by this woman. That’s tens of thousands of kids and staff members over the decades she has worked there. Her talent for developing fun programs to get through entire summers, each one different, is indescribable. She also has a great sense of humor, and is one of those people who just makes people feel good. Her piano playing ability is remarkable, and even more so, since her left arm is weak- but nobody would ever know that from what she can get a piano to do. She has been an example of what Christian woman can aspire to. There isn’t an ounce of phoniness in her. She’s the real deal.
As an 8 year old, I first met her. She was in charge of the programming for that first year as a camper. Her talents brought stories from the Bible, and how to live as a Christian to life and made them applicable. I remembered her every year I was there as a camper (7 summers), and then when I was on summer staff, she was someone familiar when I was meeting MANY new people. I wasn’t always the easiest to have around, but she was always kind and compassionate.
This last July, I got to sit down with her and her husband at a reunion at the camp. I hadn’t been back there for decades, and while it had always been my ‘safe haven’, I hadn’t seen anybody from there since the mid-80s. I’m so glad I had the chance to talk with her, and also to have reconnected on FaceBook several months earlier. She is someone who exudes life. And now she’s in a coma, and is struggling. That’s not her. Oh, she’s had struggles- but she made them work for good.
And yet, I believe in a God who is omniscient. He knows everything- and His will is perfect for His plan. Not my plan, or her plan- but His plan. I don’t know what that is, or why this all has happened. Physiologically, I understand why her heart stopped and she needed CPR. That isn’t hard to comprehend. But what is hard to understand is how her being in a coma, and so critically ill, is helpful to God’s plan. I have to have faith. I know that one day, I’ll be able to ask God directly, and know His reasoning. I do believe that. And I have to have faith in the meantime. Sometimes that faith uses a lot of kleenex. Sometimes that faith can’t see through the tears. But it’s still faith. It doesn’t waver, but it also rests inside a very real person with very real feelings.
So, now the battle is this (at least for me- and I don’t believe I’m alone in this)… do I hold out for hope and God performing a miracle? Or do I get myself ready to face the real possibility that she will end her work here on earth, and join those who have gone before her in Heaven? I have to rely on my nursing knowledge to look at where she is- and ‘she’ isn’t lying in a bed on life support. That’s the logical angle. That isn’t how she lives. She is a very vibrant and amazing woman. I believe God can use anybody in any state to speak to others, and yet being in a bed isn’t how she has lived. When I saw her in July of this year- just 2 1/2 months ago- she was racing around the camp in a golf cart, tending to the visitors on the grounds. Smiling. Serving, encouraging, and active.
I can’t imagine what her husband is going through today after the meeting with the doctor. He is also a ‘lifer’ on staff at Timber-lee. He forges iron into custom ironworks and horseshoes. Yes, there are still blacksmiths! Now, he’s faced with an incomprehensible set of circumstances and potential outcomes to sort through. But he seeks God’s will as well. He seeks the glory of God, regardless of the loss or changes he may also face.
In the end, those of us who believe the doctrines and Biblical principles that are an integral part of Timber-lee know that we will all see each other again, no matter what happens here in this earthly life. We have that promise and confidence in what Jesus did on the cross. That makes no sense to someone who choses not to believe in Christianity as described in the Bible- and God gives everyone the free will to decide that. He doesn’t force eternity- or Himself- down anybody’s throat. For me, it’s a comfort -though I still feel the loss of people I care about in a very human way; those concepts are not mutually exclusive. Christianity really isn’t about either/or… it’s about more and more. I’ll get more time with my friend. I’ll get eternity with her. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t miss her until then.
I don’t know what will happen. I don’t know the private matters being discussed. I do know that the woman I know is vibrant, and unstoppable. Yet, now she’s suspended in time, in a very passive state. That’s not her. I will still pray for healing. I will still pray for God’s will to be done (which might mean He takes her). But no matter what, I will never forget her impact decades ago, or even now as she triggers deeper thought about God, and why things happen the way they do… and in the end, she has once again strengthened my faith.
And those of us ‘watching’ can celebrate her life, no matter what.