I had a God sighting last weekend. Or should I say profound moment with God? I’m not really sure how to explain it other than I felt my prayers and those of many around me were answered. I have prayed nearly every night since I was seven years old and learned the Lord’s Prayer. At that point I would recite about five prayers before bed and then if I happened to wake up in the middle of the night, I’d recite them all over again. I didn’t want to disappoint God. And I had to practice.
Prayer has always been part of my routine. But asking other people for prayers has not. I find it hard to ask other people to partake because I feel like I’m asking for attention or making something about me. But I’m in a Bible Study and Sunday School class and I’ve learned that collective prayer only helps because we support each other.
Last Thursday, my twenty one year old brother Joe was found unresponsive in his college apartment and sent to the ER. All we knew Thursday night was that he was undergoing a procedure to install a drain in his skull and we were afraid. My parents made the 6 hour drive from Chicago to Carbondale and until their arrival after midnight, all we could do was wait. Wait for updates. Wait for answers. Wait and pray.
None of us felt so helpless in our lives. I immediately found myself in a blanket of guilt. I haven’t always been patient with Joe. I wish I had been better at returning phone calls. I wish I had said more positive things. I wish I had been less critical… All I could do was promise God that I would be a better, nicer, more patient sister and please protect him so I could have that chance.
I reached out to my Bible Study Circle and my close friends and asked for prayers. I called my brother Sam and talked with him for an hour. And I spoke out loud to God in my home while I waited for Eric to return from a business trip. I guess I’m someone who needs to talk while waiting.
By Friday morning we had a few answers. Joe had suffered from a cerebral venous thrombosis, or in lay terms a more uncommon stroke that blocks blood moving away from the brain instead of to it. When it comes to strokes, this is a better version as it leads to brain damage much more slowly. The news was grim- each progression would be a baby step in his marathon of a recovery and any setback could be detrimental. However, Joe’s youth seemed to step forward and play an important role in the events over the weekend.
My sisters arrived Friday evening and by Saturday, Joe was awake and responding to questions with nods. His humor & goofy personality were present as my sister Lili told Joe her hot friends were thinking of him and his eyes shot open excitedly. Brit grabbed his hand and squeezed it and exclaimed, “Wow Joe, you have a strong grip!” “Stronger than Eric” he replied. My Dad whispered to my mom and asked her if she was hungry and Joe’s head started nodding eagerly. Oh Jeje… He was very much there :)
Photo by Ben Elsass Photography
Joe on left/ Sam on right
For those of you who don’t know Joe, let me tell you just a bit about him:
-He is super goofy with a heart of gold. He is one of the sweetest & kindest guys I know. If something reminds him of you, expect a call…
-Joe loves following all sorts of professional sports and has a knack for statistics. He knows random facts about coaches and players on tons of sports teams.
-He loves rooting for the TOP DOG: the team expected to win… Joe doesn’t like to be on a losing team…
-He collects jerseys and has WAY too many teams he supports
-He has a devilish scheming grin that resembles the Grinch in the animated film… It is actually kind of creepy looking but always makes his audience laugh
-Joe loves a good news story… he is fascinated by drama and won’t hesitate to call you if something happened in a town three hours away from you and ask how you are feeling about it…
-He is like a sponge. If he’s in the room, he’s absorbing everything.
-He doesn’t break many rules. It’s one of his own personal fears. Well unless its a rule involving a chore around the house… he’ll take his sweet time getting that done ;)
-He is very skilled with directions and always seems to know where he is going
-He doesn’t take no for an answer. One year my mom had him step up and help my sisters sell raffle tickets for their hockey team and an hour later, my mom came home and found Joe with his feet up on the couch. She was not happy. “Joe, you are supposed to be selling raffle tickets”…. “I know”…. “WELL?!” “Sold ’em all!” Apparently Joe wouldn’t leave any of our neighbors’ doorsteps until they bought some tickets ;)
-He loves crime shows, the news, and stretching out on the couch with his feet up, diet coke in hand…
-He is like a teddy bear and will randomly deliver a hug, and often in your time of need :)
-We would not be the people we are today without our adorable, goofy, hysterical brother
I was able to talk to Joe on Sunday and the first thing he said was “What up sis” in pure Joe form. I felt in high spirits, especially with the email reports from my parents about his progress. As of Friday, Joe was given a one month prediction for his stay in the hospital. Eric and I started looking at flights to visit Carbondale. We were told on Sunday that Joe would be released from ICU on Tuesday and potentially leaving the hospital this week. Joe is being released from ICU today and hopefully the hospital by the weekend! Eric and I are so excited to see him and hug him next week!
This weekend was a huge trial for our family and a test of faith. I am overwhelmed with the love and support we received from not only our family and friends, but other people I haven’t talked to in years reaching out to say hey, I’m thinking of you. Joe was informed of each note of love and I honestly believe it helped in his recovery. And it will continue to do so as he gets better in these next few weeks. He has a long road ahead of him, but an amazing support system and a zillion people in his corner who love him dearly.
I’ve learned so much through this scare. Life is fragile and not always predictable. And things can happen to young people that you never expect. So make sure to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. Spread kindness like confetti. Make that call to your Grandmother you haven’t made in a while. Sing out loud in the car. And enjoy every minute of your life. Because it is precious.
Joe, I love you so much. I’m so happy you are getting better. I can’t wait to give you a squeeze next week.