Every day is a bonus

We were talking last night about how frightening it was for all of us to have my wife go through a near-death experience. The events of last Monday are still so upsetting to us that we speak of it briefly and then it is painful and frightening enough that we back off. Susan has no memory of the events of the day and I have given her enough information for her to have a rough outline of the events that happened, but the emotional intensity still makes me cry when I try to tell the whole story and that is just too much for us right now.

What we can recognize is that we have been given a tremendous gift of these days after the experience. I said to her, “One thing about it. Every day is a bonus now.”

The truth, however, is that every day we have had already and every day we have going forward has been and will be a gift of God. There are many people who have not been given access to such treasure. Each day has been a bonus all along. If Monday had been our last, I would still have been given the incredible gift of 46 1/4 years of a wonderful marriage. Not many people have been given that gift. I would still be among the most fortunate people in the world.

But our story is not over. The miracles of modern medical intervention and treatment have given us what is likely to be many years of life together.

One of the doctors said, “This is just a bump in the road.” Maybe he is right, but to me, writing this morning, it seems like we completely ran out of road, kept going, and somehow got back on the road. Whatever analogies one uses, it has been a significant event.

The bottom line is that each day is a gift of incredible value. We frequently say, “God is good - all the time. All the time - God is good.” It is true. Every day is a gift of God. Life is a gift of God. What we sometimes forget is that life is also incredibly fragile. At any moment it can be taken from us by accidents, illnesses, mistakes, and countless other threats. We are not, as we felt in our youth, invincible.

In 2 Corinthians the apostle writes of our having this incredible treasure in clay jars. That image has really fresh meaning for me these days.

But having said all of this about how fragile we are and how breakable these jars are, I have to say that what I have witnessed in the past week is that in some ways we are incredibly strong. The human body can absorb an incredible amount of stress and recover. Despite what we might imagine, and despite what they show on television and in movies, CPR is a very violent procedure. Chest compressions are delivered with the force of an assault. Ribs are cracked. Tendons and muscles are inflamed. Skin is bruised. Then a powerful electrical shock is delivered that is strong enough in itself to frighten any observer. Needles are poked through the skin, Plastic tubes are crammed down the throat with such force that the tender tissues in the inside of a body are torn. And I’m only describing a bit of what it looks like from the outside.

But each of those actions is necessary. Each of those actions is a life-saving event. For a while, on Monday the full focus and strength of a large team of highly trained people was right there with Susan as the center. They had practiced and prepared for that moment. They knew their roles and they knew what they were doing. And there were all kinds of backups. What I didn’t know at the time, was that right outside the door of that room there was a second crash cart and more people ready to step in if a substitution had to be made. The same was true down in the ICU when she arrived. Everything had been made ready. More help was available. There were backups to backups when it came to essential supplies.

What I witnessed, though I couldn’t take it in at the time, was a modern hospital at its very best. These people live for the rush of the moment when life and death hang in the balance and their intervention can make all of the difference in the world. After a few intense minutes that soon turn into hours they can pause, look back, and say, “We did it.” And they did. So much human effort, training, expertise, conditioning, strength and energy was focused on just getting to survival.

Having survived, every day is a bonus.

Monday might have been my last journal entry. It wasn’t. Monday could have been the end of so much, but we have been given a new beginning.

In the Gospel of John it is reported that Jesus said, “Unless you are born again, you cannot see God’s realm.” At the time, Jesus was talking to Nicodemus. Nicodemus couldn’t understand what Jesus was saying. He kept asking questions and Jesus kept explaining. It is an interesting exchange and one that has caused Christians to ponder for generations. I think I understand this exchange much better than ever now.

I was just a witness to Monday’s events. I wasn’t involved in the action. And yet what happened was more important to me than anything I can imagine. It was as if my life was also hanging in the balance - as if I were experiencing a brush with death - as if I was given the experience of new birth. In a way it may be even more dramatic for me right now because I can remember what Susan cannot.

I know I’ll be struggling to understand what happened for a long time, probably for the rest of my life. For now what I can say is that I understand the meaning of being born again. It can happen.

Every day is a bonus.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!