The words, "We will lower you through the roof", spoke loudly to me the month of December 2007. In a season of hope, joyfulness, and soon to be new birth of a baby girl, my world was about to turn upside down.
I am ashamed to admit, but I do have a controlling personality, especially when it comes to my home and family. I feel more confident & stable when I am holding onto the reins of my own life. I struggle with this personality default often because our Amazing Creator is the One who I want to take the reins and lead me toward His good and perfect plan...rather than my own!
This particular December, I was behind on preparing the nursery for our Baby Lydia's arrival. There was so much left to do and only three weeks remained before the scheduled cesearen. With this time crunch, I was on a mission. I had to make curtains, bedding, & all the pink fufu things that go into a daughter's room.
But, before I could begin, one of the biggest ice storms in Joplin hit. Everyone seemed to be affected by the power outages whether it was living without electricity for one hour to a few weeks or having people stay in their homes to keep warm & sane.
We experienced seven, long days without electricity and because we were the only ones on the block that didn't have electricity, the Electric Company told me that we were not their top priority.
Ok, so tell me, what does a 9 month pregnant woman who is also a mom to a three year old do at night? Well, cry of course! I held our 3 year old close and snuggled him tightly in between my husband and myself. Oh, I had the "woe is me" attitude and it was coming on strong! There was so much that I had to do...the nursery, laundry, deep cleaning (nesting), and just mentally prepare!!
We woke up on the 17th and I looked at Sergio and said, "I don't think it can get any worse!". (Side note...never say those words, because it can!)
He gently kissed me and left for work. Our electric was restored and I was thrilled...ok, more like overwhelmed with joy! I even thanked God for getting us through a rough time. My attitude was extremely self-centered.
That same evening, I received a phone call from my little brother, Randy. I answered, "Hello". Silence. "Hello", I repeated.
"Jackie", his voice cracks, "tell me it's not true. TELL ME IT'S NOT TRUE!"
I had no clue what he was talking about. My mind raced through all the possibilities in a matter of seconds. I sat down in the kitchen.
"Randy, what is wrong? What happened?"
"It's Dad!" And the sobs continued from his end.
"What? Where's Dad? What happened?
"He's dead, Jackie. Tell me it's not true!!! TELL ME IT'S NOT TRUE!"
I told him that I had to call Grandma and that I would call him back.
After speaking with my Grandma and to those who found him, the pieces all came together. My Dad was a mechanic and worked at the same place for 15 years or longer. He left work, grabbing tape, a pipe, and maybe even a pen and paper. He drove up in the salvage yard to which he decided would be his resting place. He taped up the air vents, connected the pipe to the exhaust, and taped up every crack that he could find....killing himself by carbon monxiode poisioning.
With the car running, he sat there and wrote out his last words. There were words to his coworkers, his friends, and to Grandma. He even wrote, "please tell my kids that I love them". And then shortly later, he was gone.
That night, I packed up our things as well as a bag for Lydia who was only two weeks away from being delivered. I didn't know what to expect or even how I was going to handle seeing my Dad for the last time.
That week was spent planning his funeral while wishing for just one more day with him. I wanted him to meet Lydia. Why could he not wait to meet her? I was selfish in my thoughts even at this point. I did not fully understand the mental illness of depression. I could only think about my kids not knowing their Grandpa and how I would never hear his scratchy voice again...or see his grease stained hands....or feel his scruffy beard when he'd kiss me goodbye....or even drink Pepsi with him while watching TV.
Christmas came and went as a blur. I have no rememberance of this day.
It's now December 31st, Lydia's scheduled birthday! I thought, "Ok, Lord, now we can have some joy come into our life! Now we have a reason to celebrate!" I was trying to believe this, but in reality, how could I celebrate life when I was still mourning death??
The first few hours were hard for me. Would she always be a constant reminder of my Dad's death? Believe me, I really did try to move on. I tried to love her, to hold her, and to look at her like every mother should look at their newborn child, but my grief was still overwhelming.
Four hours after the cesearen, the nurse came in and realized that her color had not changed and that she was not doing well. She was whisked away. We later realized that one of her lungs collasped and the other had pneomnia. Things were not looking good for our sweet, Lydia. She had to be transported to another local hospital where the NICU could take care of her. I had one minute to say goodbye. I could not hold her because she was in an incubator. I just looked out her and saw the blood coming out of her chest from one of the tubes. I could do nothing but cry.
I'm sure that everyone on that floor heard my loud sobs. I could not take it anymore. I just lost my Dad....and I thought that I had lost my daughter.
Once released from the hospital, we checked into the Ronald McDonald House where we'd stay for the next seven days. Luckily, my mom came up and stayed with our son, Josiah, so that Sergio and I could be with Lydia.
I remember leaning over Lydia with my husband and we were both crying. He covered her back with his tears and her feet were soaked in mine. Sergio looked at me and said, "I don't know what to pray!" I didn't have any words either. He just said, "Oh Lord".
It was after 10pm when our friend, Tracy, got up to the NICU. She handed us some Scripture verses and looked us both in the face and said, "Your friends are lowering you through the roof".
I knew what that meant.
Luke 5: 17-19
"One day as he (Jesus) was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus."
I was weak and had no strength left. I could not even arm crawl to our Father, but in a deep time of need, our friends were carrying us to Him and lowering us down the roof to be next to him.
I had lost all control of my surroundings. I had no grasp on any aspect of my family's life. It was time to trust. To be taken to the Only One who never left me, who never forgot me, and who loves me deeply. He is the Almighty God who comforts, heals, and gives peace. And what did I find? I found a Gentle Father and I rested in His arms that evening....for the first time in a long time.
I leaned on the words written by John found in Revelation 7: 9-10, 14-17....
"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'
These (in white robes) are they who have come out of tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore,
'they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes!"
And I now hold onto His hand tightly, because He tightly holds the reins of my life. He tells me, 'Behold, I am coming soon! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.'
Whatever happens in between...He IS and ALWAYS will be the One who sits on the throne and I will forever worship Him....no matter what this life brings.
I do think about my Dad daily, but in my sadness, my King comes in, whisks me off my feet, and gives me comfort.