I know what I want for my birthday every year now. Another year with my husband. I’m soooooooo thankful to God for sparing his life and can’t bless his name enough. I don’t take for granted that I get to cry happy tears tonight instead of grieving, anguished ones. Thank you, Jesus.
I have some time (Gabe’s resting and watching football, and my mama is with our girlies at home) so I’ll try to share a bit more of Gabe’s story.
We were at a Fall Festival that our church hosted for the community Saturday night. We had a chili cook-off, lots of goodies, games in the gym, a real-life firetruck w/firemen, and ended the night with trunk-or-treat.
I needed our van keys to open our trunk, so I walked over to the end of the gym where Gabe and 5 buddies were deep in a game of 3-on-3 basketball. I asked Gabe for the keys, took one look at him and said, “Did you get hit??” He said no. I knew something was wrong. He had an awful look on his face like, “I’m in pain, and I’m not happy about it, and don’t talk to me. “Are you okay?” He said no, but shooed me away. I tried not to be offended and went to pass out candy.
As I was throwing candy at little munchkins, he came outside and leaned his head up against the van. He looked awful. Pale, sweaty, and not just-played-basketball sweaty, but cold, clammy sweaty. “Are you okay?” Another no, and “I don’t want to talk.”
I suggested he get in the van and lay the seat back. He did. A minute later he was back. “I can’t catch my breath.” The kiddos were winding down the trunk-or-treat. “Do you need me to do something?” No. Then a minute later he said, “I need to go to the hospital.”
I freaked a little. How? Where? What do I do? Scanned the crowd for Pastor Rich, found him immediately. “Gabe can’t breathe very well. He says he needs to go to the hospital.”
“Let’s try to find a physician,” he said. He runs up to a couple people. I see him talking to our friend Chad. “I’m calling 9-1-1,” Chad says.
Well, that’s a little dramatic, don’t you think? (I don’t say this out loud.)
Gabe sits down beside me in the “trunk” of our mini-van. Our girls are there. A bunch of men somehow circle around us. Rich prays. I cry. The girls cry. I’m not sure at what point I start telling Jesus that I can’t do life without him (Gabe), but I told him that a lot over the next half hour.
The squad arrives, followed by the same firetruck the kids had climbed on 20 minutes earlier. They wouldn’t let me in with him. I stood outside and cried. One of my friend’s husbands rubbed my shoulders. Guys prayed. (all of the women were still “manning” the stations at the festival) The EMT told me I could ride up front or follow the ambulance. Our friend Harlan offered to drive me. I picked Harlan over the dude who wouldn’t let me in the ambulance with my husband.
The fire engine escorted us to the hospital. Harlan dropped me off and parked. I walked into the ER waiting room. So surreal. I felt really calm. Gabe wasn’t in the computer yet. I sat down. Twenty seconds later, they called me up. “He’s in room 52. Go left, right, left.”
I start walking. I turn left, right, left and see doctors and nurses running. Running. One of them says, “I need a something-something in 52. Stat! We’ve got a something-something…”
I can’t really describe that moment. It was awful.
I walked in the room. Gabe was on a gurney, shirtless, cords and wires and IV’s everywhere. Pale as a ghost, in obvious pain. People scurrying, shouting, pulling his clothes off.
Doctor: “It’s a probable heart attack. We’re taking him to the cath lab.”
They hand me his clothes and shoes. I dig in his jeans pockets for his phone. Mine is at home. Dumb. A receptionist takes me to a waiting room. Tells me that calling 9-1-1 was the smartest thing I ever did. I didn’t tell her that it wasn’t my idea. At all.
I sit and wait for Harlan. I need to call Gabe’s dad and brother. Gabe’s mom is in Africa. Gabe’s phone is dead. I don’t know their cell #s by heart. Harlan gets me water. He tells me I can call the operator and they’ll put me through. He’s going to find a charger for Gabe’s phone. I call my mom. No answer. Call my dad. Get “Carrie’s” voicemail. Somehow remember my dad’s real number. He answers.
“Dad, I’m in the hospital. They think Gabe had a heart attack.” I can’t really talk. Dad is in South Carolina with Mom. No one knows Tug or Rock’s number. The phone rings. It’s Tug. Harlan had found a charger and called Tug. Rock and Tug are headed to Columbus.
Harlan and I chat about life. I learn more about him and his amazing, beautiful wife Wendy. I hold back tears. Pastor Rich comes. Then our friends Will and Donna. The doc comes out. Gabe’s left anterior descending artery was 100% blocked. They unblocked it, put a stent in, he’s doing well.
Heart attack. Primary artery. Also known as the Widow Maker.
We go meet him in the hallway and go to his CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Unit) room. Well, he went to the room, we went to the waiting room. Rock and Tug come. And our friends Pam and Britt. We get to go to his room.
Lots of hugs and tears and some powerful, powerful prayer. God is so good. It was an amazing moment.
I think I’ll stop there. This is all still so surreal. Gabe just said five seconds ago, “Did I really have a heart attack?” He’s doing so well. This is going to change our lives a lot, but we can do all things through Christ.
One of our biggest prayer requests right now is for wisdom about our trip to Cambodia. We’ve gotten some conflicting advice from different nurses. “You can still go.” “You really shouldn’t go.” “You could go, but it would be a huge, huge risk.” Please, God, give us your perfect peace and wisdom. We want to bring you glory, whether that means stay or go.
And friends, I can never thank you enough for all the love and support and encouragement you’ve been showering us with in the past 30 hours. It’s enough to make me bawl. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We love you all so much!
God, you are so, so, so, so, so, so, sooooooooooooooooooo good.
So, yeah, I don’t need anything else for my birthday. Unless you have an extra prayer or two. Thank you!!