Doctors, surgeons and nurses. Oxygen monitors, breathing treatments and IV fluids. This is what most of my February looked like. There we 14 days out of 28 that we were in the hospital for one reason or another. Whether it was Emery having surgery or being hospitalized with pneumonia, most of those nights Roxy and I slept in different beds so we could take turns being with Emery. We had gone through this before: we had to wait 21 days after Emery was born before we were able to take him home. This time was different though.
After Emery had surgery to repair his diaphragmatic hernia, he stayed in the hospital for five days and then we got to go home. After we were released from the hospital I thought we were done with hospitals for a really long time. Little did we know only a few days later he would be hospitalized again for six days with a serious respiratory infection. There were so many things that happened. I can tell you that at some point during our second hospital stay — I broke.
It was one of the days I stayed home with the kids, so that Roxy could stay at the hospital with Emery. After the boys got out of school, we headed to the hospital to see them. On the ride there, it felt like everything came crashing down at once. I had to feed the kids, get food for Roxy, answering emails, and the boys were fighting. I had to explain time and time again what Emery was going through. I didn’t know the area around the hospital and got lost. I felt like every area of my life was turned upside down. Not knowing what to do (which is the hardest thing for a husband and a dad) I pulled over into a McDonald’s parking lot, got out of my car and cried. I can only wonder what the kids in the play structure there were thinking. In that moment, I felt totally alone. I felt like no one in the world knew what I was going through and I didn’t know if it was OK to feel broken like this or not. In fact, Roxy was holding it together pretty well this time, when usually that was my role.
After a good cry, I got back in the car and the boys were looking at me like, “What the heck is going on with this guy?” My mom met us and took the boys home to get ready for bed. Then I got ready to go see Emery in Room 2313 on the third floor of the hospital. In order to get to room 2313, you have to walk down this really long hallway. It’s the hallway pictured above. It’s a pretty lonely hallway because when you start down this hallway, you don’t know what type of news you’re walking into. I didn’t know if Emery’s oxygen levels had maintained through the night. I didn’t know if they had to put another IV in him. I didn’t know if he was closer to going home or further away from getting better. This walk seemed to take forever and was filled with scary questions.
One night in particular, I had spent time looking through Facebook comments and reading some of the prayers from people at Echo church, my friends, family and spiritual mentors. As I read these in my car I felt loved, I felt cared for and was thankful for the kind words; but it wasn’t until I got to the start of this long hallway that I felt like I wasn’t walking alone anymore. I knew that Jesus was with my family the entire time. I knew that there were so many people praying for my little boy. Walking down that hallway that night, I felt like I had an army walking with me. As I walked down the hallway carrying whatever Roxy needed from the house, I carried images in my mind of people lifting my son up in prayer. I imagined friends, family and even strangers approaching the throne of God and interceding for my son. I felt like I had God’s undivided attention and that He was with me.
I’ve been serving God for a while now, but that night, walking down that hallway … my faith increased because of my community. I thank God for community. I thank God that He created us to be in community, but most of all, I am thankful for the community that I have. If you are reading this and you prayed for my son, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. You made a difference and your love helped us endure.
A lot of us have lonely hallways that we walk down every day and sometimes it feels like we are walking alone. But we don’t have to. There is a God that promises to be close to us in our time of need. There is a God who works through the generosity of His people and moves them collectively to be everything we lack as individuals. There is a God who wants to be close to your heart. He is not far, but near and His name is Jesus.
I would also love to introduce you to my community … Echo.Church. A community that finds its foundation in seeing Jesus change lives and does so through love, generosity and commitment. A community whose love for God and each other Echos all over the world. A community of hallway walkers.