I woke up later than I planned on that next morning in Alvarado, forgetting for a moment where I was because…
1. My childhood room looks different. A lot different. And…
2. Once I finally determined that I was indeed in my childhood room, I was a bit taken aback by the presence of a hot preacher man sitting in bed next to me, drinking coffee and saying, “It STILL feels like a sauna in here!” (It’s an odd thing, y’all, whenever Jennifer Yawn’s life intersects with Jenn Faulk’s. Strange enough that I’m married and find myself in my mid-thirties, but throw in the two children who look just alike but aren’t twins? Bizarre, bizarre, bizarre.)
“We’re in Alvarado,” I said, for myself as well as for him. “Have you heard anything from the hospital?”
Yes. Yes, he had. I had apparently slept a whole lot later than planned, as my sister had left while I was asleep, my dad had come home from the hospital to shower and had already left again, and Wes had carried on a conversation with the ICU waiting room hours before I even opened my eyes. Is everyone’s internal clock just set to insanely early, or was I just that tired?
No matter, I guess. The word was that my grandmother had made a turn for the better, so much so that she requested to have one of the grandchildren come back to the ICU to see her. See if you can guess who. Oh, go on, guess who my grandmother’s favorite is. That’s right – Wes. Wes, who isn’t even her grandchild! He strutted around my parents’ house like a giant peacock over this, as he explained to me that she wanted to see him because he’s a man of the cloth and all. Yeah, forget seeing my cousin and her husband who are respiratory therapists and who could actually give her some good information on her health – she wanted to see the preacher.
“I have a theology degree, too, you know,” I said to Wes.
“Yes,” he said smugly, “but you’re not the PASTOR.”
“Oh, shut up,” I told him. “She just wants to talk to you and make sure you get all the details for her funeral right.”
As it turns out, I was right. That was the only reason she picked him. Ha! And then, when we got up there, we were told that she had changed her mind and didn’t want to see Wes after all. Who’s the smug pastor now, huh?
It was a slow morning with no changes, so we went out to lunch with my parents before they headed home to try and get some rest. Wes and I stayed up at the hospital with my uncle and aunt, where we suddenly got the news that all of the different breathing machines they were trying on my grandmother weren’t working. They recommended a ventilator, and before we could even make sense of what was happening, they were putting her on it to avoid an emergency situation if she stopped breathing on her own entirely.
Because she had been better that morning, almost everyone had gone home to rest, so Wes and I got on our cell phones and began making calls. After the family was notified, we were handed a church directory. Oh, you see where this is going, don’t you? My grandmother is a member of a very small Southern Baptist church out in the country in Alvarado, and I’m convinced, after I called a good number of the ladies of the church and Wes called a good number of the deacons and the preacher, that everyone who attends that church is hard of hearing. Mercy, y’all. The ladies were perfectly sweet and pleasant, but Wes was dealing with some belligerent fellows, if the way he was screaming into his cell phone was any indication. “No, this is WES. I’m Hazel’s grandson. HAZEL! YEAH! I’m at the hospital. The HOSPITAL! WES! Yeah. I’m the — I said YEAH, I’m the PREACHER! From HOUSTON! YEAH!” (He tells me that they weren’t belligerent. Just that hard of hearing. Which wasn’t nearly as funny as when he called my grandmother’s boyfriend. “It’s Wes. No, WES. Not Jeff. Who’s Jeff?! No, WES, we just talked this morning. This MORNING! At the HOSPITAL! I’m the PREACHER! From HOUSTON! YEAH!”)
Making these calls with a smile? Yeah, moments like these remind me why I married him, y’all.
There weren’t many answers about my grandmother for most of the rest of the day. Just more calls from concerned family members out of state, more visits from people, and more and more immediate family members, once again crowding into the ICU waiting room.
It was then, just as the sun went down, that Wes and I did something that my grandmother must never, ever know about. She’d laid down the law earlier that none of her grandchildren were allowed back to the ICU to see her like she was, but after they put in the ventilator, she was so sedated that she didn’t know who was back there anyway. Wes and I knew we’d have to leave the next morning to get back to Houston to get the girls and to be ready for church (which Wes can’t just skip, obviously), and we didn’t want to leave without seeing her one last time, especially since things weren’t looking hopeful.
More than this, though, we wanted to break her rule, thereby being the ones to bear the blame for the flood of other grandchildren who would soon be heading back to the ICU as she was blissfully unaware. (I told Wes, “So, she miraculously recovers, finds out, and what? Hates us for going back and praying for her?” And he told me, “Well, she probably will.” Likely so. Do NOT tell her I went back there, y’all!)
So, we went back to the ICU, crept into her room, and prayed for her. After we’d said goodbye, Wes leaned over, told her he loved her, and kissed her. I would say this is a pastor thing, but y’all, it’s a Wes thing. I am so, so glad that he’s mine.
We left and headed back to Alvarado for the night, stopping at Dairy Queen (finally!) on our way to the house. And my sweet pastor husband sat there and let me cry into my Blizzard (because there’s no better way to cry) as we affirmed together the truth that to live is Christ and to die is gain. Even in grief over death, hope is still greater because the One who waits on the other side of eternity has conquered all for His sake and for His glory. I don’t appreciate it often enough, knowing these truths fully and being able to honestly believe that seeing Christ face to face will be worth far more than anything here.
Comforting thoughts and transforming truths. It makes me long for the day when I’ll be in His presence myself.
The next day, we made our way back to Houston, certain that within the week we’d be back in Alvarado for a funeral. We were so certain of it that we began packing our bags, Wes got a haircut for the funeral (since he was going to be singing and preaching, remember?), and we prepared the girls for what was likely going to happen.
And then? They took my grandmother off the ventilator… and she woke up mad and cranky and ready to whip everyone there. Hallelujah, y’all! And I say that not because she woke up but because WE WERE IN HOUSTON and missed getting whipped ourselves. Glory!
She’s getting her strength back slowly but surely, and while we know that our time with her will likely be short, we’ve still been given more time.
So thankful. (And so appreciative to all of you who were praying. And even more thankful for those of you who will kindly refrain from telling my grandmother that I broke her rule. Or failing that, just tell her that the pastor made me do it!)