i've had more tears than words today, as i've laid here in this hospital bed. until i'm able to better string my words together, this is something my Granddaddy wrote today. his preacher's heart beats raw as he pleads for some mercy from the God he has so faithfully served all his life.
as for me, though the past year has made me feel like a fool for doing so, i fearfully dare to try and hope for my precious baby Lyla Mae.
Encouraging Words from Phillip Morrison, #56, March 17, 2014
Oh, Dear God in Heaven, Please….
I don’t know whether to begin this special issue of Encouraging Words with an apology or an alert, but think I should tell you that this one is different. Ordinarily I would be thinking of words of encouragement I might pass along to you, but this time I’m crying out for your words for my family. I seldom cry, and when I do my sobs are usually so muffled no one knows. But this morning, on this day that has such special meaning, in the shower, I wept tears I could not control, tears so copious they seemed to rival the output of the shower head.
Ten months ago today, my daughter Bryn and her children made the most heart-rending, gut-churning decision any human being has to make for another. For four days husband and father had been barely alive. Physically fit, active men in the prime of life are not supposed to suffer fatal strokes, but Keith did. Every test, every high-tech image, every consultation with Mayo Clinic doctors ended with the same conclusion: Keith would never again be Keith – not in this world. Heroic medical efforts and fervent prayer efforts combined were not enough. With a courage I had to admire from a distance, Bryn, Emmy and husband Nick, Joe and wife Melissa, Annie, Jesse, and Abby said their goodbyes, allowed Keith’s life to end naturally, and organs to be harvested to enrich and perhaps save the lives of others.
That was ten months ago today. And today Keith’s daughter – our granddaughter, Dr. Mary Emily Kreidel Fleming – is lying in a hospital bed in the mammoth San Antonio Military Medical Center where she is an Air Force physician. She is in her twenty-fifth week of pregnancy with her first child and our first great-grandchild, and will have to maintain bed rest for at least another eight weeks. I am so glad that when Emmy and Nick knew they were having a baby girl, they went ahead and named her Lyla Mae, because her name reminds us all that she is a real person. Not quite ready to leave the safety of the womb or the security of the umbilical, the ultrasound clearly shows a person, a lithe, feisty baby girl, eager to get on with life. We’re not praying for a blob of tissue, or even for a fetus; we’re praying for baby girl Lyla Mae.
My prayer in the shower this morning was hardly the longest or most eloquent I’ve ever uttered, but it was without doubt the most honest – Oh, dear God in heaven, please… please… please.
I don’t mind telling you that when our prayers for Keith were not answered to our liking, our faith was strained if not shattered. The fact that God apparently did not answer the prayers of his servants long ago or even the prayers of his own son in Gethsemane did little to ease our pain. I’ve tried to learn from the Old Testament book of Job how to act when family is taken, but how does family act when their Job is taken?
Both of our daughters were students at Abilene Christian University when Keith called one night to talk with me. “I would like permission to marry your daughter,” was his nervous request. It didn’t help him a bit when I blurted out, “Which one?” We quickly sorted that out and gave it a special place in our family lore. I always introduced Keith as our son-in-law so as not to confuse people, but we really thought of him and loved him as our third son. We don’t expect to ever get over the pain of Keith’s death, but by the grace of God we will get through it.
Thirty years ago, when Emmy was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where her parents were missionaries, Mary Margaret and I made our first trip to see our first grandchild. As we were leaving to return to our home in Memphis, a scene from Alex Haley’s television series Roots kept filling my mind. Remembering how the slave Kunta Kinte had held his baby daughter Kizzy high above his head and told her she was seeing the only power greater than herself, I took Emmy to an uncrowded section of the international airport in Rio, held her over my head, and pledged to always live before her in a God-honoring way, and to always remind her that God is the only power greater than she. Lyla Mae doesn’t know it yet, but she has a date with her great-granddaddy.
There’s something about the tribal custom of a Kunta Kinte that reminds me of the aged Simeon holding the baby Jesus and praising God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation…” (Luke 2:29-30).