I believe that God and I spoke that evening. Bent over my daughter’s bed I insisted that she was going to survive and be fine. I insisted not because that’s what I wanted, although it clearly was, but because she had important things to give the world yet and she was not finished. Hunched over her poorly responsive visage I believed I was right.
Hours earlier a phone call from her interrupted a presentation I was giving. She had a severe headache and she was scared. Something in her voice alerted her mother that something was wrong and, I believe remembering the death of my mother several years earlier from an aneurysm, she told Gillian to go to the ER. She had to be driven to the ER blocks away because she was unable to concentrate.
We arrived at the ER and they told me Gillian was in CT. The weight of a million moments laid across my shoulders as I approached her gurney to find her unconscious and the ER doctor telling me she had had a seizure. Her boyfriend was pasted against the wall in a state of shock. As I examined her I realized that things were seriously wrong. I helped load her onto the CT scanner table and moved to the console room to see the scan results.
Blood. Everywhere. Down to my knees I felt the life drain from me like air from a balloon. You must understand, the death rate from this is high and the severe damage leaves most others minimally functional. It was all over and our lives would be forever ruined. Families are destroyed by these events. My perfect baby girl. Telling myself I needed to get to work I stood and went to her. A neurosurgeon, a breathing tube to help her brain swelling, medicines to decrease swelling. There were so many things that had to happen.
The hardest moment of my life to date came meeting my wife at the door of the ER. “It’s what happened to Bee.” We sobbed together and went to see our daughter.
What followed were hours of holding Gillian’s hand and asking God to remember her positive and infectious spirit, her caring and supportive nature, and her earnest desire to help those around her. She was a person the world would need badly in the years to come.
I believe in prayer. Not because two years later my precious daughter is a sophomore at George Washington U and her plans to help the world will occur. Not because the AVM that threatened to take her life appears to have closed after treatment. Not because I can email her every day and she isn’t impaired. Because I needed to say those things to someone whose limitlessness could encompass all that was and is and will happen and tell me not to worry. I believe prayer is a gift to those who pray. A gift of limitless strength when we have not enough in the moment.
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