I remember fifteen years ago this August, we were getting ready to take our son to college. It was a Monday morning. We would be leaving on Wednesday to get him all settled in his dorm room. It was a big deal for mom and her firstborn. . .well somewhat for dad also. I remember the phone ringing early that morning and it was Holly’s mother telling her that Holly’s dad had a heart attack and was in a medically induced coma. Our plans suddenly changed, but getting our son to the college and not letting this negatively affect the excitement of a new chapter in his life was still important to us. So, with hearts that wanted to be in two places at once, we quickly came up with a plan.
We still left on Wednesday to drop David off at college. Fortunately, where he was attending was about halfway to Texas where Holly’s dad was. I remember getting David settled and then driving the ten hours on down to the hospital. We got there after visiting hours, but we were let in through the emergency entrance and up to the ICU. We didn’t get to see him that night, but we did visit with Holly’s mom. The next day during the limited ICU visiting hours we were able to see him. Twice a day for the next few days we would wait to see him. Doctors brought him out of the coma and we got to talk with him and spend some time together. After a few days of this, he seemed to be stable and since we had left our then 16 year old Hannah back home with a friend, we figured it was time to go back to Illinois.
A week later he was dead.
About six years ago I had a large bump of sorts on the inside of my left forearm. When it wasn’t going away, I decided to stop by the clinic to see if I should be concerned about it. They sent me off to a specialist. I remember, before seeing the doctor, the nurse saying, “Oh”, when she saw it. It wasn’t a tone that gives you comfort. The doctor arrived and decided to biopsy it right then, which is never a good thing. We were told it was a very rare form of cancer with tentacles that can wrap themselves around the muscles and tendons of the arm. Before they did anything they needed to send the sample off just to make sure.
He then proceeded to tell me how things would most likely go forward. At the very least there would be some damage to the muscles as they cleared the cancer cells out. In a worst case scenario, there could be amputation. Needless to say, I was hoping for the better of the two outcomes. We would know in a week and then the surgery would be scheduled.
I remember Hannah visiting during this week and me practicing with one arm. I would go get gas and just use one arm, wondering if that may be all that I was going to have going forward. Getting dressed, eating, so many things we take for granted. Then I remember exactly where I was sitting when I got the news a week later: it wasn’t a rare form of cancer, but a rarer form of growth that mimics cancer and should go away on its own over time.
A week later there was relief.
Jesus entered Jerusalem, on what we call Palm Sunday. A week later He had risen from the grave, death could not hold Him. In that week He had taught in the temple, had that last meal with His followers, was crucified and then rose from the dead. As you go thought this week leading up to Easter think about what that last week was like. Think about this week: who you can invite to join us, if not for Easter some other time. What a difference a week can make. Sometimes, it can even be a matter of life or death.
A lot can happen in one week,