It is extremely hard to begin to write again after having spent the last four weeks in and out of an intensive care unit for the first two and in and out of the neurological ward for the last two. On Friday 12th of March as my husband and I sat watching a film and having a glass of wine, I received the dreaded phone call that we all hope and pray we never get: “Mum has had some sort of stroke and is now in a comma”. My family are Spanish and so live hundreds of miles away from me, so ever since I moved to the UK, I feared that one day this kind of news would arrive and I would have to rush back to my homeland in a panic. My husband managed to book us all some flights for a few hours after receiving the news, and the very next morning we arrived in Bilbao, my home town.
The direct flight to Bilbao was not til that afternoon and so we decided to fly to Madrid and hire a car from there to Bilbao, which took us just over three hours. I am not very good in panic situations. I am one of those people who will freeze when faced with physical danger to another’s life or to one’s own, either that or I will freak out to such a point that the adrenalin levels hits the ceiling and my instinct to act then takes over. I admire those people who under extreme pressure manage to keep calm and collected. I do however believe that though being a hot-blooded person may in a panic situation become an obstacle, it is also a trait which may become a real blessing in other areas of one’s life, such as parenting, relationships, work, and certainly as one who, like millions of others, aspires to become the hands and feet of Jesus in this wretched old world. You need to have fire in your belly if you are going to fight for the things you believe in and the people whom you love. No passion, no victorious living!
On our journey from Madrid to Bilbao we drove past a gigantic billboard which read something along the lines of : “Walking on water”. My husband missed it or if he saw it he thought nothing of it, but I immediately felt God speaking to me and reassuring me about His power being made perfect in our weakness, about his ability to heal when healing falls within his will. It is clear that though God is a healing God, it is not always His will to heal people, for many suffer strokes and do not live to tell the tale, whilst others recover from these and other very severe conditions and illnesses. Who can fathom God’s ways? They are so much higher than our ways.
I remember the children behaving so appallingly in the car, not realising the full extent of my mum’s condition. Having been used to travelling in Spain on countless holidays and visits to the family, it could not enter their minds that this time the purpose for our trip was not leisure but if I can put it bluntly: hell and heaven mixed together! the darkest of darkness and the brightest of light all experienced in one and same moment.
I remember arriving at the hospital, a hospital which despite having lived in Bilbao for the first 20 years of my life, I had been blessed enough to never have to visit, not for myself or anyone I know. As we were driving into the Intensive Care Unit’s car park, my oldest brother (I am one of 5 children) who lives an hour away from Bilbao, phoned me in a panic asking whether I had heard anything more as the rest of the family had promised him to be in touch with the latest and he had not heard anything since. With that thought in mind I walked into the hospital not knowing whether I was already too late or whether I would have the opportunity to see my mum alive maybe for the last time. At the information desk a lady told me that my relatives were upstairs with my mum and pointed me in the right direction, but as I headed towards the lifts, I broke down into tears as a result of the tension that had accumulated since the previous evening. The lady was very kind and asked me whether I would like her to accompany me to the intensive care unit where my mum was. She took me upstairs and rang the bell for me. I had never been in this situation before. I have visited people in hospitals before and been a patient myself a few times, but never something of this gravity and urgency. I was absolutely petrified. In those moments you begin to look back at the years that have gone by and in a split second you begin to judge whether you have behaved fairly with that person; whether you have loved them enough, and let them know that you do love them much, whether you have done for them as much as they have done for you, whether you will be able to continue once they are gone, whether you will change forever if they pass away, and above all whether the faith that you have professed so passionately will sustain you as you hoped and prayed it would.
to be continued in Part 2