The weather was perfect, a gentle breeze blowing over Las Vegas on a 70-degree April day. My chiffon and muslin skirts swirled in clouds of white. Just beyond the pillars and waterfalls of the Valley of the Falls at Mandalay Bay stood my soon-to-be new husband waiting at the altar. There was another man I had to see first.
My dad, standing just out of sight of the guests, met me and took my arm. Only some of the guests knew every paced step we took up that aisle was a miracle. Was it only this last September when I saw my dad, gray hair, full beard, with shining eyes sealed shut as he lay hooked to a ventilator, fighting for his life? I inhaled tears, not only at the miracle of marrying a man I love but at the undeniable healing God performed in Dad. If I didn’t before, I truly believe in miracles.
A Life-Altering Situation
Flashback to months prior, the end of August 2021, I was working as a flight attendant and sitting in the airport terminal waiting for a flight. The phone rang. Mom left a voicemail. I called back. “Your Dad is in the hospital. He was talking crazy and swatting at the air, so I called an ambulance.”
They’d both struggled with a light cough lately but hadn’t officially tested for the COVID-19 virus. My supervisor saw my change of countenance and immediately offered to put me on a flight to Florida. “I can’t even see him. Let me finish this flight and get my head on straight before I go see my Mom.”
Not a great idea. The emotional suppression was real as I was sleepless in Spokane and some other layover I can’t recall. I left my cell phone charger in a hotel, then my full set of makeup, and finally all my jewelry in the end.
Every day was a check-in with my mom as she talked to specialists as Dad’s condition worsened. “White out pneumonia” in both lungs because of COVID-19. They’d put a “Do Not Resuscitate” order on him due to the extensive damage to his internal organs.
By the time I reached my hometown in Florida, he was long ventilated on the ICU floor. Family members checked in from a distance. Siblings came in from out of town. The stress of the whole situation was exacerbated by the virus restrictions, including our extra testing and inability to see him. Mom got on the designated visitors list, with me flying back and forth to California for work with a COVID test each time. The fears were compounded about Dad’s loss of life, his brain damage if he woke up off the ventilator, about the financial situation for my housewife mother with her sole breadwinner in a coma.
Relying on Faith
Through it all, God never felt silent. Just like a surgeon you don’t want to disturb in the middle of an intensive procedure, His presence during my quiet times felt focused and pointed. My mother’s faith in Dad’s complete healing never wavered, even with so many tears shed. I chose to approach my prayers with a recognition of His sovereignty. Refusing to be in denial about the quality of life into which Dad could wake up, I asked God what the best would be for Dad.
I remembered our conversations, the way my dad was the rock of sanity when I was freaking out about things. Selfishly, losing him would leave a gaping hole of confidant, encourager, and consultant in my life. My prayers however, focused on God’s will.
Having experienced loss in my life, I can pray, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” The quality of my dad’s life became more important than my priorities. To my surprise, some of my family and friends took this prayer stance as a lack of faith.
“If you’re going to be negative and think that God can’t heal him, then you shouldn’t be here.”
The challenge against my faith was painful in a time where I was already suffering. I took them to God in my prayers as well.
“God, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re in grief.”
I knew that He was sufficient. I knew that He also knew my true heart to have my Father walk down the aisle, but I wanted Him to know that I wanted His will more than anything else.
Then God Stepped In
Our fears were countered with the precision of the Divine Surgeon one-by-one. A friend contacted me on a layover commuting from California back to Florida, asking if they could make a GoFundMe for Dad’s medical expenses and Mom’s bills.
I wanted to cry at God’s sufficiency and the willingness of His people to truly be His hands and feet. Soon, the funds poured in from church friends, coworkers, flight attendants, from shocking sources we didn’t expect.
Then one fine day, I got the call. Dad was awake. I wasn’t surprised, though I was elated. God made His choice. Dad would live.
I could do nothing but be so grateful. The prayers continued as Dad’s mind was scrambled, as could be expected. His memories from the time before the coma and on the ventilator were more fiction than fact, terrifying and traumatizing to him in their own right.
The situation would be temporary, I knew, because God and I had an understanding. The selfish, pointed part of my prayers was that if God chose to wake Dad up, He would truly restore him.
One Miracle After Another
The miracles didn’t slack off. A new rehab facility nearby heard from doctors and medical personnel of “Miracle Man Charlie,” one of the only COVID-19 patients in the Northwest Florida region to wake up after 30 days on the ventilator. They wanted him to be number two patient in the opening of their new facility, the first being a recent aircraft crash survivor who’d slept down the hall from him in ICU.
The bills were covered. The chefs were trained dietitians. Therapy teammates the best. None of it easy, my dad relearned basic life skills like eating and walking while Mom learned how to care for her newly revived husband. Each step he took in the rehab center training him for that walk down the aisle.
Then, that fine April day. There he emerged from the darkness of sickness and oxygen-deprivation to his brain, standing before me in his dapper suit with sleek silver hair and shining eyes. Everyone commented on how handsome he was. Even greater than the trauma that piled upon our family were the miracles.
God, with His surgical precision, heard our prayers and proved Himself faithful. Yet again. As Dad and I looped arms, I focused on one foot before the other in my flowing ballgown skirt and wedding heels. I could imagine Dad focusing on one foot in front of the other at that rehab, relearning how to send messages from his brain to his muscles.
Dad kissed me on my cheek. He fought back tears in those glistening eyes, shaking hands with my groom. He passed my hand into his. Not wanting to cry off my makeup, I looked up through the columns and atrium to the blue Vegas sky. God could hear the voice in my head calling up to Him, Job 42:5: “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.”
It can be challenging to leave your hopes in God’s hands if you don’t know Him well. Listen to this podcast episode to learn how to change that: Who Is God Really? with Christian Bevere – 169