Before a man opens his eyes everyone is positive. But after the eyes are open and they stare…and stare…and stare…people, nurses and doctors start to form opinions. Opinions which are based on large case studies and in most cases are probably highly accurate.
It was some time around 6 weeks into Vernon’s recovery and between candid conversations with nurses and a doctor. I asked the nurses one at a time to cut the sugar-coated responses and give me their straight opinion for his chances of recovery. I listened to the highly experienced SICU nurse’s opinion that Vernon at best might offer a faint smile from time to time but would most likely not recover to a coherent state of consciousness. I listened to a trusted doctor give me his opinion that Vernon had shown absolutely NO neurological progress and would most likely not progress any further. I even spoke with one highly experienced person who mentioned that in some cases it was better for the ambulance not to show up on time.
These may sound like dark conversations. But that is the reality with TBI cases. These are the conversations that take place. At least 4 men passed away while I was in the hospital with Vernon or shortly before I arrived. Many people said goodbye to sleeping friends, sons and brothers while we watched Vernon’s pulse, brain pressure and temperature.
The fact is that God saves some people and he lets other people pass away. He allows some to walk again and others to sit in a chair and drool for decades while they are cared for day in and day out. I struggle to accept that God would save someone who is prayed for more fervently than someone who doesn’t have the good fortune of having loads of Christian friends. If prayer is the key factor in someone’s recovery and we believe that, why do we not pray from the moment we wake ’til we rest our heads at night? Are Ali, Vernon, Justine and Maki worth that extra bump we can give by simply investing more into God’s bank of prayer? If it truly means the difference between recovering to 40% or 90%. Or perhaps the prayer of a righteous man availeth much and in that case we must allow the righteous man ample time to pray. Perhaps we pay his bills so he can pray without ceasing?
Being confronted with these mysteries head on I have been forced over the past few months to wrestle with my understanding of God and his methods of doing business.
Whether we have confidence in God’s course of action for our dear friend Vernon or not, in the united states the clock ticks over and medical care is provided. The patient either lives or dies. If he lives, he is tended to. If he has friends, he is visited. If he has none, he sits alone.
Some days are good, others are terrible. A son sits at home and longs for his father, he wonders why and how, perhaps he wonders how he can possibly focus on school at a time like this. But he must. A little girl waits patiently for the day Daddy will hold her again. She wants to curl up in his arms. But she can’t. A wife tries to figure out what the right thing to do is. Some decisions feel selfish and others feel justified. At the end of the day there are no good answers – no decisions that are good enough. Nothing replaces a daddy or a husband. No amount of time is short enough. Every minute is too long.
It’s like waiting at a train station for 4 1/2 months, hoping a train will come down the line carrying your daddy, your friend, your husband, your son, your brother. Knowing that there is a train on the track and it may never come back to your station. But you wait nonetheless. You must wait. You have no choice.
Then one day, a train pulls up. Today was that day for me. After 4 1/2 months. The train pulled up and Vernon was speaking. He was conversing. I suddenly have to be careful what I write about because he may wonder why he’s had such a profound impact on me and on so many others. The light is on. We just had no way of knowing. Until today.
When I walked in Vernon said: Hi…
I asked: How are you?
Do you remember me?
No, I don’t.
Do you know the font Pacifico?
Yes, I do.
Is that one of Dave Crossland’s fonts?
No, it’s one of mine.
Would you like me to bring up your iPad?
Yes, I would like that.
Do you know who your son is?
Do you know what Glyphs software is?
Yes I do.
Is it on your mac?
No, it’s on my, um, laptop.
Do you think you could use it with your right hand?
And as I left I said “well, you are doing great, I’ll see you tomorrow. Is that ok?”
He replied “Yes, I’ll see you tomorrow.”