A Personal Testimony by Barbara Clausen Abare
She looked nervous when she came into the room; not like the others with their concerned looks and their pasted-on façades of calm.
“You don’t know me,” she said, wringing her hands and stepping closer, “I am not authorized to come in here and I could get into trouble coming to talk to you. I’ve been fighting it, but ever since I saw you, I knew it was you I’m supposed to see.”
I stood up, expectant and confused. I was on the verge of panic as the initial numbness of the shock was beginning to wear off. My two co-workers in the room with me had been trying to get me to understand what was happening; trying to gauge if I could handle it. They looked on as I stepped toward the young woman.
It was sinking in what being in the Family Room of the hospital meant; the room in which they put you when a loved one is dying. I had received the call at around 3:30 that Sunday afternoon at our house in Florida. I was packing. My husband, Will, and I were supposed to drive to New York that very day, but Will had insisted on doing one last job that would delay us by a week. I couldn’t wait to get back to New York where all of our family was. The call came from Will’s phone. I heard a commotion and then I was cut off. My phone immediately rang again with a strange number showing in the window. It was a neighbor of the house where Will was working that day cutting tree limbs. She was a nurse.
“There’s been an accident,” she said. “They’re taking Will to the hospital in the ambulance right now. He fell off the ladder.”
“He’s okay, right?” I questioned, holding my breath.
“They are taking really good care of him. He’s on his way. You have to get to the hospital.”
I did not know how serious this was, but I dropped everything, got into the car and drove. I was thinking that he must have broken some bones or ribs or something. I knew we should have left for New York that day. I was going to chastise him big time! I would let him heal and then hogtie him if I had to and throw him into the truck to take him to New York. I already had it planned.
I began to suspect something worse than broken bones as the neighbor kept calling me on my cell phone to make sure I was okay and could drive. She said she was meeting me at the hospital with another neighbor who was also a nurse. Her tone was making me very afraid, but I didn’t dare ask details about his condition until I got there.
My panic level was rising when I finally found the Emergency Department at the hospital. I asked the nurse at the desk if he was okay. Her face was unreadable. She said he had just come in and was undergoing tests and evaluations. She told me to wait in the waiting room.
I obeyed. I waited and paced for what seemed a long time. Finally, the hospital clergy came to me with some generic religion I didn’t know. I couldn’t understand what he was talking about. I told him that Jesus was my help. I think I confused him or offended him, but he went to see what was happening for me. When he came back, his face was calm and kind, but his voice was saying things like, “Very serious… In trauma… Doing everything they can... Lost a lot of blood… Doctor will be out soon to talk to you.” He may as well have been speaking a foreign language. I heard the words but they did not translate to my understanding.
“Do you want me to stay with you?” He asked.
“No. Please don’t.” I didn’t like his words.
A policeman came. He was very sympathetic, but why the police? Accident, he said. Must do a report. Verify information. If there is anything you need ma’am let us know. Why would I need anything? My anxiety kicked up a notch.
I ask at the desk for information. Nothing. I have been here so very long. I am still alone and I realize that I am becoming very, very afraid. I get down on my knees by my chair. I am aware people are looking at me, maybe thinking I am strange but I don’t care. I pray, but I can’t think. No words come. Will and I heard a song together just a few days before. “Breath of Heaven, hold me together. Be forever near me, Breath of Heaven”. This is the only part of the song I remember. It replays over and over in my mind and becomes my prayer. I stand and my mind goes to game mode to maintain sanity. I pray the ABC’s. My mind won’t function without some order. A – Always be with him. B-Be by his side now, Lord. C – Comfort him now. And so on. On and on I pray. Lord, if I ever needed an angel it is now. I need You to help me. I am just so very, very afraid.
The two nurse neighbors come. They sit with me. They use medical terms. Fixed and dilated. Shouldn’t I know what that means? She explains but my mind refuses to understand.
“Was he conscious?” I ask.
“No, but the ambulance came quickly.” I tell myself, the ambulance coming quickly means okay, right?
“You need to insist they tell you something,” she says. It is very important to her that I see him as soon as possible. The desk … maybe they know something by now. I go up there.
“Please tell me, where is he? Can I see him?” Tell me what is wrong. I don’t understand why nobody is giving me answers.
The doctor comes. He smiles a little and it is reassuring. I feel better. Brain damage, he says. If he makes it, he says. Coded once, he says. Do you want us to resuscitate? It came across to me like he was taking my dinner order. What? Yes. Yes. Just make him okay. Should I call the family? They are in New York. The doctor is evasive. Yes, call the family. Do I tell them to come? Maybe. I call the family and tell them what the doctor said. The nurse neighbors are nice but I don’t know them well. So, I call my friend and co-worker, Mitchelie. I tell her she does not need to come, but she does. Somehow she knows that I need her. The nurse neighbors leave. They know what is going on and I don’t want to. I am glad they leave.
The nurse brings me and Mitchelie in to the Trauma Unit. I can finally see him. I have never seen such bright lights. Everything is so vivid. Back left corner. I see him. They are working on him. Eyes fixed and dilated. So that’s what that means. I touch his hand. He is ice cold. The head nurse is explaining. Explaining much more than the doctor had. Internal bleeding. Bled out. Replaced entire amount of blood in body. Don’t know why yet. Severe brain damage. Very little brain activity.
But there is a lot of activity around him. We are ushered out. I am right outside the trauma room and cry uncontrollably. I call his son in New York and his sister in Tennessee and tell them to come. They let me see him again and then they bring us to the Family Room. My other co-worker, Sheylla, has come as well. The truth is beginning to sink in and I feel the panic about to engulf me.
That’s where we were when my nervous messenger angel came into the room.
“You don’t know me,” she said wringing her hands and stepping closer, “I am not authorized to come in here and I could get into trouble coming to talk to you. I’ve been fighting it, but ever since I saw you, I knew it was you I’m supposed to see.”
I stood up and took a step toward her and said, “It’s okay. What is it? Are you a nurse?”
“No,” she said, “I’m a clerk at the desk, but I was at a church service today before I started my shift and I received a blessing, a gift of peace from God for someone. I know I am supposed to give it to you. I didn’t want to approach you; I fought it, but I had to.”
I looked at her questioningly.
“Can I pray for you?” she asked.
I nodded and she put her arms around my shoulders and she prayed, no longer nervous but with great emotion. She prayed for about a minute. I have no recollection of what she said, but she bestowed the blessing on me. I told her thank you and she left. I didn’t see her again.
That very minute, my panic lifted, my mind cleared and I regained my composure. I knew Will was dying, but I was no longer afraid. My angel had given me a blessing of peace from our Lord, Jesus.
Soon after, a nurse came to tell us that they were moving Will to ICU because there was nothing more they could do for him in the Trauma Unit. They said I could stay with him. Mitchelie was going to stay with me, but I truly did not need her to at that point. She must have sensed my new calm demeanor, because she left once I promised I would call if I wanted her to come back.
I sat with my husband all that night in ICU. I asked the attending nurse calmly if he was going to make it. She shook her head and I calmly asked how it would play out and she told me. I watched as they cared for him. At one point the nurse said I must have a strong constitution to watch a procedure she did. I was surprised because I get light headed over a skinned knee. I realized it was my blessing of peace protecting me.
All that night, I sat with Will. I prayed and I talked to him and held his hand. I asked God why this had happened and I believe he provided the answer to me. Around 9:30 in the morning, minutes after I asked for a Bible and began reading Psalm 51, Will’s favorite, out loud, they coded him again but couldn’t do anything for him. I was with him as his heart stopped and he left this world to be with Jesus. I cried but my blessing of peace kept me from falling apart.
I kept vigil in the waiting room going in to see Will from time to time until his family got there. I made phone calls. I made arrangements, my blessing of peace still with me. Will’s son, daughter-in-law and sister arrived at 2 p.m. that day. We all went in to see him and then it was time for me to say good-bye until Jesus orchestrates our reunion.
I know my blessing of peace was a specific gift for me for a specific time because as we walked out to the parking garage, it lifted and I began to fall apart. I couldn’t find the car, I couldn’t drive or make a simple decision, I didn’t know my way home and I was in total panic and hysterical mode. My family was there to take care of me now. It was God’s way of showing me just how much He had cared for me through my ordeal when I was alone.
It has been almost 10 years since Will died. God is still building me and has given me blessings of joy in the form of grandchildren. Thank you, my messenger angel who obeyed the Lord and delivered His gift. I think I would have needed sedation if you had kept it to yourself.
We are in a world broken by the fall, but it will be restored. In the meantime, the Lord did not leave us to face it alone. The worse the circumstances around us are, the more He makes His presence known and the more He works through His people.