I always thought I (sort of) understood what septic shock was, until I saw my husband collapsed on a floor in an urgent care.
Seeing my strong adult husband, our family’s protector and guide, laid out and barely conscious, introduced me to the true implication of the words. Septic shock. At that moment, I became permanently scarred with the realization of the frailty of the human body.
I had never known such terror. Never been so stretched. I reached for Mother Mary and acutely felt her presence beside me during those moments. The whole world was going on like normal outside of that dark Intensive Care Unit, and I was pacing the halls asking our dear mother to give my husband strength, asking her to implore her Son not to take my husband and my young children’s father away from us. And perhaps just as acutely, I was begging God for strength and asking Mary to please take hold of me and keep me standing.
I think I always believed that my husband would make it out of that hospital and back home with us. What I wasn’t so sure about was whether I could make it to that day, whether my sanity would hold. We were both so immensely vulnerable.
Loneliness in tough times
That first night in the ICU I was so lonely. For over a decade, I had spoken with my husband every single day. I had run nearly every decision by him and shared all of my joys and sorrows and all of my fears. Now, at our darkest moment, I couldn’t share anything with him, and he could only make mild gestures to me. Decisions needed to be made. Other decisions might possibly have to have been made. Suddenly, I was charged with making them all.
When it comes to family and friends, I am a very blessed woman. All of our people were eager to help me and my children during this time. But God pairs most of us off into twos for a reason, and I was suddenly left — albeit briefly — as a woman without a partner. I needed him so desperately.
But a strange thing happened to me psychologically during that time. I suddenly became overwhelmingly grateful. I’d like to say this was a natural instinct of mine, that gratitude was always living buried deep inside in my heart. But let’s be honest, this not the case, and that was not my tendency.
The gift of gratitude
Still, I sat in that dark ICU room and thanked God with everything I had that the doctors believed my husband would probably be okay. I sat thinking about all those who were given the opposite prognosis, who were told that their loved ones likely would not make it. I prayed for them. I prayed for the family in the next room who had already spent weeks in that intensive care unit and were likely escorting their loved one home to die.
I realized that while millions were sleeping worry-free in their beds on that, my most terrifying night, others were more terrified than I was. Some were making funeral arrangements and preparing visitors to come and say goodbye. There were those whose Anointing of the Sick was accompanied by the Viaticum. I thanked God for the graces he had bestowed upon us and for the blessing of hope. Every prayer of “please let us be okay” was followed with “thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord.”
Those prayers of gratitude did not stem from virtue; they were my means of my survival. The gratitude God granted me during those days in the hospital remain one of the greatest gifts He has ever granted me.
This morning I was talking to my daughters about how we are called to fill our minds with the Lord. We are called to offer it all to God, to always seek God’s will, to always be in communion with Him. These are joyful words when spoken in joyful times. They can feel like mundane words when spoken during ordinary times. But when spoken during the hard times, they prove their durability, truth, and strength.
His faithfulness through it all
The beauty that occurs when people turn to God during rough times is not proof of their own holiness. Rather, it’s proof of God’s faithfulness. Our God knows what we need, and He is always willing to provide it. We have no choice at those moments but to lean on Him. But He does have a choice and He always chooses in our favor.
When I look back on that time now, I can’t help but stand in awe of all that the Lord has brought my husband and me through, carrying us in his arms the entire time. But it also reminds me of the importance of all the rest of the days — the ordinary, mundane days. It reminds me that God speaks to us in those dark times, but often He speaks words that He has already planted in our hearts. I couldn’t open a Bible during those times. I couldn’t compose grand prayers. My prayers consisted of simple supplications spoken in the most basic of words.
In gratitude to the Lord for all he has done for us and in preparation for the trials that life will again bring, I now try to saturate myself in God’s Word as much as I can. I read it. I contemplate it. I seek out His beauty in the world. I make note of His goodness. I watch as he carries others, and I speak to my children about remaining close to Him and asking Him to walk beside us through our ordinary days. I understand now that the more truth we know about God during our ordinary days, the more He can speak it back to us during our trials.
I now try to spend my days getting to know Him more so that when He again stands beside me in tragedy, I will no longer be so surprised at how faithful He is.