The phone rings around 11:45 pm. Unusual. Late. I answer.
"Davey?" My brother. "We're at the Emergency Room and they're saying Diane's not going to make it." Diane's my sister-in-law; I refer to her as Sis.
This has got to be a joke. Last I talked with my brother Len, Diane had given birth to their third child, Catherine. That was only a month ago. As a matter of fact, we were going up to see them as soon as Len got back from a teaching assignment in Oklahoma.
"Slow down, Lenny. Tell me what happened."
Through tears. "Diane came up with the kids last night to stay the weekend. She got sick and started throwing up. Before I knew it her fever went sky high. By the time we got to the hospital, she could barely walk."
He talks. I listen.
"Davey, they're saying she has Toxic Shock Syndrome. Their saying she's going to die."
Please Lord, no. This can't be happening.
I'm on my way to Oklahoma. I haven't been on an airplane since I sobered up three years ago. I could use a drink. Instead I fish out my Bible Promise Book and go through some Scriptures. I close my eyes and I pray for Diane. I pray for Lenny. I pray for myself.
Lord, give me the strength.
The plane lands and Len is waiting for me. We ride in silence to the hospital.
The elevator opens and immediately there are faces starring at Len and me. Red faces. Concerned faces. Faces that show sadness, sorrowfear. A few quiet hugs and whispered greetings from family members and some people I've never seen. Len introduces me. Finally, it's time for me to go in and see her.
I can't believe this is my 'full of life' sister-in-law. Her face is so swollen I don't recognize her. My cousin is in the room holding her hand. Through tears she pleads to Jesus for her life. I stay for another moment before I have to get out of the room. I find a place to be alone. I cry. I pray.
I stay in Oklahoma for three days. Len and I sleep at the hospital. We find a small room close to where Diane's room is and move in. The doctors, nurses, attendees, everyone is so helpful and caring.
Diane is getting progressively worse. They amputate her feet.
My Uncle comes to see Len and Diane. He's a Pastor. I have a minute to be alone with him in the little room where Len and I are sleeping. I have my Promise Book open. I can't get enough of the Word. It's my Rock, my Comfort.
I close the little book and look at my Uncle, whose head is bowed. Seems I only see him when someone is sick or has died.
"Uncle, Floyd." I must ask. "Why?"
He looks up at me. I'll never forget his answer. "There comes a time, when you have to realizethat it just doesn't matter." He lowers his head.
What does that mean? I stare at him, confused.
Diane holds on for a month and then dies.
It almost killed me to watch my brother go through what he had to go through. I didn't think he was going to make it. He did. He's remarried now. I think maybe he's starting to find his way back to the Lord. I think he's going to be okay.
My Uncle never explained his words to me, but I have thought about them often. There comes a time when you have to realize that it just doesn't matter. I believe that he was trying to tell me, that through the circle of life, we must cling to the fact that we are not in control. That through the valleys and on the mountaintops, the good and the bad, the laughter and the tears, times of prosperity and times of poverty, times of sorrow, and times of joy we must realize that God is God. We serve and obey the laws and the love of a Higher Power. His ways are not always our ways. He gives and He takes away.
We are to fear Him, and we are to trust Him. Our hope can be in Him, but in the end we bow to Him, cause try as hard as we maywe are not Him. He and He alone is God. He and He alone, gives life. And He and He alone, can take it away.
Praise be the name of the Lord.
All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He has the power to do as he pleases among the angels of heaven and with those who live on earth. No one can stop him or challenge him, saying, "What do you mean by doing these things?"
- Daniel 4:35 (NLT)