It’s a typical afternoon.
The sun is shining through my office window.
Looking through a pile of papers that need to be reviewed,
I hear laughter down the hallway.
The phone rings. I think, “Should I pick it up?”
It’s a phone number that I don’t recognize, but I need to answer.
I’m half-hoping that it’s a sales call, but … it isn’t.
I get up and shut the door.
It’s a call any parent doesn’t want to receive.
The doctor’s office shares that the scans “are positive.”
“I’m so sorry, your daughter’s cancer has spread.”
My entire body goes numb.
Heart pounding, I can’t believe that what I am hearing is true.
“I must be in a bad dream; this can’t be real,” I hear myself say.
Unsure, how to respond, I’m frozen in time.
In one dimension, I’m asking a million questions.
In another dimension, I can’t even remember my name.
“You’ll have to get to the hospital immediately. We may need to do urgent surgery,” the doctor says.
I numbly respond, “What? We’ve only been home an hour.”
He says, “I’m sorry, you need to come back.”
Arms limp, I hang up the phone.
A hopeful day turned into a nightmare … that quickly.
With one phone call.
In my mind, I hear my pastor saying these sentences, countless times,
“Life is hard. Any of us could get ‘that’ phone call at any time. Are you prepared?”
I can’t even think clearly. How can I be prepared for this seemingly impossible situation?
I go into autopilot and the protective mom, deep inside me, activates.
Everything I believe about a loving, caring and healing God must kick in now or I’ll drown in shock and pain.
I bring my daughter to the hospital and tread through a nightmare month.
Since this situation I just described, I’ve received several of these “life altering” phone calls.
We all get them.
The calls all sound different.
- “Meet me in the HR room in 5 minutes.”
- “Your wife isn’t doing well.”
- “Your son was found … and it’s bad news.”
- “Your friend was in an accident.”
- “Your child was caught with drugs.”
Yet, all the calls have a common denominator.
They often stun us and dramatically throw us off balance;
it’s as though a huge, ocean wave knocks us over.
We believe that we are drowning.
These calls demand more of us than we have to give.
At least, what we ‘think’ we have to give.
As soon as we rise above water, we gasp for air and start swimming.
The ability to move in deep water is a gift.
A gift of inner strength that grows with time.
An irony of life is that we most learn to swim in deep water when we
are forced, through circumstance, to be in deep water.
The potential for these phone calls doesn’t seem to lessen as the years pass.
The calls seem to increase.
Hopefully, what comes with each call is the resolve
to withstand the shock and the strength to move forward.