Miracle Moments Miracle Moments with Family

RAYER HAS LONG BEEN A PART OF MY LIFE but wasn’t real to me until recently. Miracles were something that happened to others—only an idea to me. In December of 2002, however, my family and I learned the power of prayer and of miracles. I can remember my sister calling and telling me that Mom was taking Dad to the doctor because he wasn’t feeling well. To anyone else, this may not seem like a big deal, but my father is not one to be sick. Ever.

My dad went to the doctor and was quickly admitted to CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital because of pneumonia. He hadn’t complained of any pain earlier that week. Nevertheless, he was ill, and by 6 p.m. that evening, my whole family knew it was quite serious. When I arrived at the hospital, my once stalwart father was barely able to stand and unable to even say hello. Things began to spiral downward, and we were asked to leave the room. A team of nurses, respiratory therapists and a pulmonologist worked with my father. Alarms in the room began going off, and fear took hold of us all. It wasn’t too much longer until my sisters and mother were in tears and the doctor was explaining that my father had become septic.

My father was admitted to surgical intensive care and placed on a ventilator due to the severity of his illness. We all made our way to the waiting room, still unsure of what had just happened. Family members were called, and the pastor was asked to come to the hospital. Things didn’t look good. That evening was long and tiring. My father was stabilized and put on a heavy dose of antibiotics. His blood pressure was OK, but his temperature was high. We figured it would take 24 hours for the medication to take effect. Feeling there was nothing more to do at the time, everyone but my older sister and mom went home.

The next day arrived and my dad hadn’t made any vast improvement. Still thinking the medications needed time, my fiancée and I ran errands to pass the time. Those plans were quickly interrupted with a phone call from my younger sister informing us that Dad wasn’t getting any better. “Why is this happening to my dad?” I asked myself. “Why my family? What’s going on?” My thoughts raced as I rode the elevator up to the ICU. My immediate family was gathered in the waiting room silent, tearful and most likely asking themselves the same questions. Hours passed, and the reports on my father weren’t improving. His blood pressure was very low, and his body wasn’t responding to the antibiotics, as evidenced by his temperature, which was below 98.6. My family and in-laws gathered in the waiting room and did the only thing we knew to do—pray. Only a few of us voiced our prayers aloud, including my fiancée. She prayed for my dad to get a fever. At the time, it seemed off-key, but we would later realize that it was exactly what needed to occur. After that, I lost it. I broke down and began crying like I never had before. I went to my brother and sobbed for what seemed like hours, clinching his coat with all my strength.

Around midnight, a specialist was called in to discuss the possibility of dialysis because my father’s kidneys were failing. The chance of his other organs, shutting down was a major concern. The specialist said it would take a miracle for my dad to live. Things so badly deteriorated that my mom gathered us four children in a small room to discuss keeping my father alive with a machine. My sisters and brother agreed that that was not what Dad would have wanted. I said we should hold out and be strong for my dad. He was to be my best man in one month. I needed his guidance and support. Most of all, I needed his love. Until now, I hadn’t experienced life with the absence of a father. Why now? My mom went back to be with him as we remained in the waiting room, weeping and eventually falling asleep from exhaustion.

The waiting room door opened and there stood my mom, not crying from anguish but with joy. I’ll never forget her words, “We got our miracle!” She told us that my once-dying father was responding to medications. His lung had collapsed, and a chest tube was inserted, which allowed fluid to drain from his lung and oxygen to reach vital organs again. Also, he had a temperature, indicating he was fighting the infection.

My father has recovered from his near-death experience. We all have taken heed of this event, realizing several things along the way. There is power in prayer. Though it may not happen right away, God does provide for us. He hears our concerns and knows what is best. Miracles do happen. They aren’t a foreign idea that only occurred to Abraham, Moses and Isaac. They are real and happen each day all around us. We may not even see or experience them, but they do happen. And when they do, your life takes on a whole new meaning. My parents both instilled in me my faith in God and, through them, I know He is real. When my dad was dying, I thought, “Why, God? Why my family?” I now say, “Thank you, God. Thank you for my family!”

Gary Miller
Son of Mary Miller, social worker
W. Temple Weber Cancer Treatment Center at CHRISTUS St. Michael