A True Story, Retold
Age Rating: 13 +
I have elaborated a great deal on one of the first stories I submitted here - "A True Story (plz read)", at the request of one of the people who left me a comment. I hope that they can derive more from this version than the last.
I don’t really know what time it was when my mom woke me up. I didn’t even know if it was morning yet or not. But there came the shaking of my shoulder, and I was forced into a groggy wakefulness.
“Yeah…?” I managed to ask, through the haze of sleep.
“I’m taking your dad to the E.R.” My mom said. I remember nodding before my head met my pillow again, and I was sound asleep, not waking up again until ten o’clock that morning of December 23, 2002. I found it strange that my parents weren’t home yet, but I shrugged it off. If something were wrong, they’d call and tell me, right? A small ball of worry formed in my gut. With that thought in my head, I logged onto the computer and played games for a while, until I received a call. It was my mom. All she said was to get ready, and that my cousin, Rachel, was coming to pick me up and take me to the hospital. I wondered what was going on, but didn’t speculate.
It was somewhere around 11 o’clock when Rachel came to get me, and I was ready to go. I got into her car, and she had some Christian band playing as we drove to the hospital. After she found a parking spot, we went inside, where my aunt Jennifer greeted us, and took us to the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit in the hospital. When I saw my mom, it felt as if my worst nightmare had come true. The small ball of worry dropped from my stomach like a lead weight, hollowing me out inside. I took the seat next to her, looking into her red and puffy eyes as she looked into my eyes.
“Your dad had a heart attack.” She said softly, wiping her tears away with a Kleenex. “He’s back in ICU. Tell me when you’re ready to go see him.”
My emotions wavered, but then grew steely. I felt that I had no choice but to be strong in this time.
“Let’s go.” I said, and my mom led me to my dad’s hospital bedside, where my heart felt like stopping itself. My father – the man who seemed invincible, who seemed like he could never get sick – was lying there, attached to at least as many gizmos as I have fingers, and looking weak and weary. I kept my chin up, but my tears stung my eyes. My father tried to make light of it, seeking to console me, but I was inconsolable. He patted my hand.
“Everything’s going to be all right.” He said, but I felt like it wouldn’t be. When his father came in, I hesitantly gave him a hug. I didn’t want to leave, but I had to. My mom led me back to the waiting room. I noticed, quite possibly for the first time, that my aunt Donna and my aunt Janie were there, and that my mom’s dad was there. I sat down, and my cousin Rachel gave me a small Spongebob Squarepants toy to try and elicit a smile out of me. My aunt Jennifer managed to make my mom and I smile a bit, with her cheerful personality.
“The heart attack occurred this morning. He was gone, Jackie. His spirit was gone.” My mother said.
“I should have been there.” I said firmly, but my mother shook her head.
“No, it’s better that you weren’t there. The doctors were able to bring him back, though.” My mother sighed.
For the most part, it was pretty boring, until my aunt Jennifer and my aunt Janie had to go out and buy some stuff for my dad.
“Mom, I still have to get Dad’s Christmas present. Could I go and get him something, and give it to him early?” I asked.
“Like what?” She looked at me.
“Oh, I was thinking a book or something.” I answered. Like my father, I have a great love of books. And since I knew he was going to be there for a while, I thought that he might enjoy having something to read.
“Okay.” My mother said, giving me her debit card.
While we were out shopping, we stopped by the local Waldenbooks, and that was where I found a few books my dad might enjoy, and a bookmark, with Psalm 23 on it.
“The Lord is my shepherd…I shall not be in want…” I read, and knew that I had to get it for my dad. When I was checking out, the woman at the counter said something about needing to see an ID. I told her that these were gifts for my father, who was in the hospital, and that my mother had given me permission to use the card. I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t my tears that moved her heart, that it was God. I returned to the hospital with my aunts, and gave the books to my father, who loved them.
The next day, he was transferred to a different hospital, for a heart catheter. One of my mom’s friends told her to expect open-heart surgery, but it was weird. When the doctors looked, there were no traces of the heart attack whatsoever. So the doctors performed a balloon angioplasty and put a stint in, to help prevent future blockages from building up. My dad’s story, when I first heard it, brought tears to my eyes. I was listening as he told it to my mother. It was beautiful, he said, this tunnel that he found himself in. It was a light pink, and looked like a cave. At one end of the tunnel, there was a bright light. At the other end, the light was dimmed, but the entire tunnel was soaked with love and peace. My father had been traveling towards the bright light, but a commanding voice told him to come back. When he ignored the first warning, and continued, the voice told him to go back again. Dad said that it was a voice that sounded like it was used to being obeyed. With this second command, my father turned around, and began walking back, towards the dim light. He said that neither my mother nor I ever once came across his mind during this time in the tunnel. He said it was difficult to go back, and he didn’t really want to. Eventually he made it back, and, when he opened his eyes, he said something to the doctor.
“I’m back.” He said, and the doctor shook his head.
“You’re not out of the woods yet!” He quipped.
My dad came home on December 27, 2002, much to our family’s joy and celebration. We had a late Christmas, but it was better than the one we would’ve had, if that voice hadn’t told my father to come back. I daresay that that Christmas was the best one ever. For about a year or two after his heart attack, my dad shared his story of his near-death experience. My mother kept saying it was the doctors who brought him back. At one point, I told her, “It was God who brought him back. The doctors were just His tools.” I wanted God to receive the glory that he was due.
Nowadays, my dad has lost the outward luster, it seems, of love and peace, but I pray that he will always remember that God chose to let him return to his family. I treasure my father, for he is quite dear to me. We are quite similar at times, and it can be scary, if you don’t know that I’m not quite a mini version of him. Reflecting back on this experience has made me realize how short life is, how few words are spoken, and how many words are left unspoken. We need to treasure those we love, and forgive them, no matter what they do that we don’t like. I want this story to be a standing tribute to my father – the one I have on Earth, and the one I have in Heaven, for, without either of them, I would never have made it as far as I have in life. I owe a lot to my father on Earth, and I owe my life to my Heavenly father.