When God Provides and Shows You A Way Forward
The warm rays of the July sun are already beating down on his sandy blond hair. I watch as he slides on the worn and faded black work gloves, the ones with the hole in the thumb on the right hand.
My son, fifteen, starts weeding the garden, eager to earn summer spending money before school starts back in a few weeks. He looks up and smiles, the dimple on his right cheek peeking out just a bit, as I pull out of the driveway at our friends’ house.
It wasn’t always this way.
I’m so grateful for yardwork, for the teenage years, for the young man who gazes back down at the dirt in front of him. We’ve been through heartbreak that should’ve stopped us. Could have been the end for him.
When he was eight, my husband and I had decided it was time. Time for me to step back from full-time work and spend more time with our son and our four-year-old daughter. They would both be in school that fall and needed a more present parent to guide them through homework and extracurriculars.
I needed a change.
About a week after I had resigned my position at work, I decided to jump into the PTA in a big way. After all, I had never been a stay-at-home mom. I could do this. I would offer my time to lead a group of parent volunteers throughout the school year. We’d plan all sorts of events and outings together, choosing the right colored flowers for this year’s Daddy Daughter Dance theme and which gaming facility would most appeal to eight-year-old boys.
Four days before school started, I had gone to the school to meet our team of volunteers. Armed with clipboards and index cards, I turned off my phone as the school door shut behind me.
So when I walked to my car three hours later and turned on my phone, the voicemail I heard sent shivers through my body. I immediately dialed my husband’s cell number.
I could tell he was in the car, my son in the backseat. Our son had been ill, a summer stomach bug we thought. He’d been sleeping for the better part of the last two days, but we figured it was good for him to sleep. It would help him recover.
My husband recounted to me that after visiting our pediatrician, we knew what the issue was. Our son was dehydrated from so much throwing up. He would be okay, but we had to pump him full of Gatorade every hour for the next eight hours.
As I listened to my husband explain all the tests the pediatrician ran, I heard my son groan in the background. Our Happy Camper rarely complained, cried or even whined like most kids.
Something was very wrong.
I told my husband to ignore the pediatrician’s advice and drive him straight to the emergency room at our local hospital. This wasn’t just dehydration.
I met him at the hospital, which we later learned didn’t treat children. (Who knew? We’d lived there 10 years and had no idea.) They hooked him up to IV fluids, said that, yes, he was severely dehydrated, they listened to a few of our son’s ailments and then asked us what we wanted to do.
They could release him and send him home with what felt to me like another fuzzy diagnosis of a stomach bug and dehydration, or we could send him by ambulance an hour south to the children’s hospital who could run further tests.
I’d just quit my job. We were between insurance plans.
Our son’s diagnosis, unclear at best and misguided at worst, gave my husband pause as he considered the expensive ambulance ride, the options ahead.
Even though our son had perked up and a neighbor was watching our youngest, I had an uneasy feeling. I now see that uneasiness as a strength, something to pay attention to when there are no perfect answers in life, when the path ahead isn’t clear.
As we waited for the attending doctor to get release paperwork in order, I received a call from the HR director at my old job. I had agreed to stay on as a contractor without benefits for a few months while my boss searched for my replacement, but I wasn’t making nearly enough to cover medical bills and an expensive ambulance ride.
Even though I had no insurance as a contractor, I’d texted my boss just to let him know what was going on. One of the perks of staying in a job for 12 years is that you become friends with your boss, and you stay in touch long after the job is over. The HR director had heard where we were and what was going on. He found “a loophole” in the company policy so that I could remain on insurance benefits for another few months, something our company didn’t do — especially with contractors that were typically not allowed but for whom I was the exception.
God was showing us our way forward. He was giving us His strength.
Two hours later, I was in the back of a brightly colored ambulance sitting in Atlanta 5 o’clock traffic. After getting to the hospital, we waited while they tried to find the physician who could run the tests he needed. Two life-flight helicopters landed in the meantime, prolonging our wait.
By the time my husband arrived well past bedtime, the surgeon had arrived, told us our son needed an emergency appendectomy and he’d update us. We found out later that another few hours and our son wouldn’t be with us anymore. His appendix, missed by multiple physicians, had burst for 36 hours, possibly longer.
On top of that, he had pneumonia and then reacted to the medication that he was given in the hospital after his surgery. We were there 11 days, and it felt like 40.
The doctors kept switching his meds, taking care of his IV, asking us what he was able to keep down each day. The days and nights ran into each other while we juggled one of us staying at the hospital, the other one staying with our daughter.
What gave us strength was the incredible support we received from others.
Neighbors left cards and cash on our doorstep, classmates whose parents I barely knew dropped off gift cards at the hospital so that we could eat on the run, the entire school circled up to pray for our son and sent us a video of it, and old friends drove down to visit us in those scary days: Our son wasn’t getting better. The surgery, the meds, it was all supposed to be working.
We would learn that, for whatever reason, the medicine that is given to patients whose appendix bursts didn’t agree with our son. He wasn’t allergic, but he just wasn’t recovering like patients normally do. He wasn’t allowed to go home until he could keep food down. Eventually, he had a day without getting sick.
Once we were released, he still had a long road to recover from pneumonia and gain enough strength to be able to attend school again. At one point, he looked up at me and asked, “Mommy, is this how we know that God is real?”
“Yes, we know that He is real because He’s been here with us, providing for us, at the worst moments.”
God has given you a story of rescue that you can remember for your entire life.
Whatever you face, wherever you are, it’s a reminder of God’s love for you. Don’t ever forget that.
Brooke Turbyfill is a freelance writer and editor from northern Georgia. She is married to her best friend, has two kids and a squirrely dog, and she loves to help writers figure out their next best step through her company, Turbowords Editing. She also loves to co-write with authors who are looking for collaborators. You can read more about her at www.brooketurbyfill.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.