I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

Anniversary gift that might not have been
photo – jmelvin

Today is our 33rdwedding anniversary.  I bought this patio furniture for my husband for our 32ndanniversary, exactly one year ago.

What a difference a year makes.

It was one year ago this month when I woke up, and for the first time in my life could not plan for my future.  I could not think about retirement, next year’s vacation, or even next weekend’s plans. By the end of the day everything could be different.  Life as I have come to know it could be forever changed and I would have absolutely no say in it whatsoever. 

Deer in our backyard
photo – jmelvin

“I don’t know about tomorrow… But I know who holds tomorrow” (Gaither & Gaither).

I arrived at the ICU early that morning.  I walked in his room and saw him like I have never seen him before.  This man that I have called mine for, one week shy of 32 years. Yes, our anniversary was the next week and I wasn’t sure if we would be able to celebrate together or not.  I wasn’t sure that if we were together he would be the same person.  That day I couldn’t plan next week.  I couldn’t even plan for that night.  For the rest of that day my, our, future was on hold.  Nothing mattered except that day.  Just a few hours would determine our tomorrow and our forever. 

The Fox that comes around every morning to play with the cats
photo – jmelvin

“I don’t know about tomorrow… But I know who holds tomorrow” (Gaither & Gaither).

He’s the strongest man I have ever known, physically, emotionally, and mentally. What I saw that morning frightened me, he was weak, his sleep was restless and I could see his pain in the furrows of his brows.  

Early morning fog
photo – jmelvin

“I don’t know about tomorrow… But I know who holds tomorrow” (Gaither & Gaither).

As I watched him sleep I touched his shoulder, to let him know I was near.  The same shoulder that I have slept against for 32 years, the shoulder that I have cried on, the same shoulder that rocked our babies to sleep, and surrounded our teenagers with all encompassing bear hugs, the same shoulder that held the weight of the world so mine never had to.  Will he be the same man tomorrow that he was yesterday?  Will I get to keep him? 

“I don’t know about tomorrow… But I know who holds tomorrow” (Gaither & Gaither).

>>>> 

Six weeks prior, in February, we were on a family ski trip.  There was nothing unusual about this trip.  We have been avid skiers for almost twenty years.  We have skied in all kinds of conditions and weather.  We have all taken our turns falling and getting back up. Waking up after a weekend ski trip leaves us bruised and stiff, we love it and continually go back for more.  This trip was no different, he fell, we all fall sometimes. 

The next morning he volunteered to see a doctor.  Nothing was broken, no sign of concussion. The doctor sent him home with some pain pills and advice to buy a new helmet before he skied again. He told me he didn’t land on his head, yet his helmet was broken.  The helmet was broken and he didn’t have a concussion or even a headache. 

However, Two weeks later he complained of a headache.  We didn’t relate it to the accident. Why? Because he always gets headaches and he had a helmet on and they checked him and said he was fine. 

Two weeks after that he complained he was dizzy when he stood up or bent down.  We didn’t relate it to the accident. Why? Because he had a helmet on and they checked him and said he was fine. They checked him and said he was fine.

Two weeks after that he complained that sometimes his vision blurred and he has to shake is head in order to focus.  We didn’t relate it to the accident. Why? Because the accident was six weeks ago. We had pretty much forgotten about it. Besides, they checked him a said he was fine.

Easter Sunday came on April fools day last year.  The kids came over and he wasn’t in to it.  That was really strange, he lives for his family, yet he continually left the room, dosed off on the couch, and only put half his heart into lunch, then collapsed in bed when they all left. I was worried about him. 

Best friends sharing laughs
photo – jmelvin

“I don’t know about tomorrow… But I know who holds tomorrow” (Gaither & Gaither).

The next morning, Monday, he was scheduled for jury duty; I insisted that as soon as they released him to call a doctor.  He arrived at the courthouse at 8:00, by 8:15 he was released.  He was stopping to wash his truck but assured me he would call the doctor as soon as he was done.

He had an appointment for 11:00 that morning. 

At 12:00 he let me know they had sent him over for an MRI.

At 12:30 he called, I wasn’t able to pick up.  He immediately texted me to tell me that they had found blood on his brain and were sending him to the ER, they won’t allow him to drive so they have called an Uber and then he told me not to worry, he’ll let me know more when he gets there. 

I was at home with our 4 month old grandbaby.  I read the text, ignored his request not to worry, of course I did.  I quickly buckled the baby in the car seat, and headed to the ER. I tried to call him on the way. There was no answer. I took it upon myself to continue to worry, however….

Colorado Sunset
photo – jmelvin

“I don’t know about tomorrow… But I know who holds tomorrow” (Gaither & Gaither).

So I also prayed. 

I arrived at the emergency room and found him already confined to a bed, still joking and laughing. He didn’t seem too worried about the blood; he shrugged and said, “How bad can it be really?”

He was upset because they wouldn’t allow him a drink of his favorite beverage, Diet Pepsi.  He was also worried about his truck, which they made him leave at the imaging office. Typical! 

My son showed up to tend to the baby.  The doctor came in and said the blood has filled the whole right side of his head and has pushed his brain to the left approximately nine millimeters.  That is significant.  He was going to be admitted into ICU and the surgeon would come in soon to talk to us.  He still joked, he smiled and winked at me making sure that I knew he was okay. He wasn’t and neither was I. 

Moments
photo – jmelvin

“I don’t know about tomorrow… But I know who holds tomorrow” (Gaither & Gaither).

There has only been twice in our marriage that I have seen worry on his face, once when I started to hemorrhage during my first pregnancy, and that day when the surgeon arrived to explain the surgery.  They would drill two wormholes in his skull.  Ideally the blood will drain out and his brain would eventually shift back in to position.  But there were risks.  

I stayed with him throughout the evening until his nurse finally insisted that I go home. 

 “Not to brag,” she said. “But we can take care of him better than you tonight.  If anything changes our first call will be to his doctor the second will be to you. Go get some rest.”  I left, went home and worried but I also prayed. 

“I don’t know about tomorrow… But I know who holds tomorrow” (Gaither & Gaither).

>>>> 

The morning of his surgery I stood over him and watched him sleep.  All of those risks came flooding over me. The substantial brain shift complicated things.  The Doctor was unsure how his brain would respond to the immediate release of pressure. He could have a massive stroke, he could lose his motor skills, he could be paralyzed, he could die, or he could be just fine. 

It was a long day, I told the kids to stay at work and come later and I would let them know if his condition was changing. He was monitored constantly. They had him on heavy painkillers, which did not work.  The drugs to help him sleep and stay still did.  He was groggy and he was in pain.  All I could do was stay by his side and pray but I still worried.  They promised surgery was coming soon but the day dragged on.  

Peace
photo – jmelvin

“I don’t know about tomorrow… But I know who holds tomorrow” (Gaither & Gaither).

After many hours he woke up in great pain, we both begged the medical staff for some relief but there was nothing they could do. It was too close to surgery for anything major and nothing else had worked for him.  His sweet nurses would have cried with me had they not been absolute professionals. 

They finally prepped him and as they took him away, our son and his wife showed up.  They talked to him before he left.  The doctor came in to see us and told us to wait in the waiting room, the surgery should last about an hour and he would then come out and talk to us.  He assured me that he had done this same surgery many times and he was good at it. He also told me to pray if I was spiritual.  I am and I did.  

Moments
photo – jmelvin

“I don’t know about tomorrow… But I know who holds tomorrow” (Gaither & Gaither).

The three of us went to the empty waiting room. We talked a bit and waited.  I had a pit in my stomach. My life could forever be changed and I had no control over it. Time passed, first 30 minutes, then 45.  We waited alone, talked, and prayed. One hour passed, my hands started to shake. Then 15 more minuets passed, then 15 more.  Why? What was taking so long? He said an hour. Finally the door opened, in walked our surgeon, expressionless and stoic it was impossible to read him.  Did it go well?  What was the outcome?  Would I get to bring my husband home, would he be the same man? 

I thought to myself, I don’t know about tomorrow….

Family
photo – jmelvin

We stood to greet him as he approached; he motioned for us to sit.  This greeting took milliseconds but felt like eternity. 

But I know who holds tomorrow…

“Everything went well. There was a lot of blood, but we got most of it cleaned out.  He will be in recovery for a bit but you can go back to his room and wait there. We will watch him for a day or two and then he should be good to go home.” 

We thanked him and rejoiced. Our other children and grandbaby arrived and we were all there to greet him when they brought him back to his room. He was awake, smiling, laughing, and joking, just like he always does.  He greeted everyone, looked at me and said, 

“Do you have something for me?”  I handed him a Diet Pepsi.  He asked our son if he was able to pick up his truck. He said he did. 

“Oh yeah!” he said and took a small sip from the Pepsi bottle, smiled and laid his head back to sleep. He was content and happy.  His whole family was with him, he had his favorite beverage and his truck was safe.  He was whole and he was going to be fine.  

As the kids and I sat and talked while he slept, I thought about what helplessness feels like.  Our life, the future of this little family that sat together in this hospital room could have changed forever, but it didn’t.  

Black Bear
photo – jmelvin

“I don’t know about tomorrow… But I know who holds tomorrow” (Gaither & Gaither).

I made anniversary plans right then.  I bought this patio furniture for him, for us.  

While he recovered and for every day,  as long as God allowed us to have each other, we would sit on our back patio, breath in the fresh mountain air, talk, laugh, enjoy the kids and grandkids every chance we get, drink Diet Pepsi, and watch our little piece of the forest and all its wildlife and thank God for holding us that day, today, and all of our tomorrows.  

Back Porch
photo – jmelvin
Pepsi on the back porch
photo – jmelvin

“I don’t know about tomorrow…. But I know who holds tomorrow” (Gaither & Gaither)

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