On a trip I took not too long ago, I brought along a book to read while I was on the plane to my destination. Little did I know it would hit close to home.
I boarded the plane and settled down into my seat and broke open my newly purchased book, 'Heaven Is For Real.' You see, a month earlier I was at home on the farm and was planning on going to see the move by the same name - but before my friend and I made it out the door, he told me his local church was reading the book and were planning on making a movie outing to go see it. This got me thinking - I wanted to read the book first too, before I went to see it in the theatres. (So we skipped the move and went with dinner instead).
So here I am in my seat on the plane, diving into the first chapter of the book. I made it ten pages into the book before we reached max altitude. That's when it hit me. The beginning of this little boy's story was much like my story when I was his age.
Colton, the 4-year-old boy that the book is about came down with an illness and wasn't getting better. No matter how many times his parents took him into the hospital for help, they were always sent back with no help. The one time the local doctors even told Colton's parents that 'He must be coming down with the stomach flu.' It wasn't until it was almost too late that the doctors found out he had a ruptured appendix and was going septic. The rest of the story gets better - I promise. You may shed a few tears, but the kid lives.
As I'm reading this story, memories of when I was 4-, going on 5-years old, I had a bad, very bad bicycle accident. That was the summer that my family moved to town to live, while the new house on the farm was being built. My parents were gone that evening leaving us kids with my oldest sister to babysit. All was fine until I left on my bicycle with two of my older siblings to go a few blocks down the street to visit my uncle working at the Co-op. On our way back to the house, I managed to somehow crash my little purple bike and land on the handlebars as I went crashing down.
At the time, no one thought any damage had occur. Just to be safe, I was taken to the local hospital. My parents met me there, and was told by the doctor that there wasn't anything wrong with me and I was free to go home.
I remained in pain the next couple of days and wasn't looking any better. Mom kept on the hospital asking what she could do for my symptoms. They told her that I must be coming down with the stomach flu. It wasn't until 3 days later that going against the doctors wishes, mom took me back into the hospital to get looked at and x-rayed. This would be when the doctor found out that I had ruptured my pancreas from the bike accident 3 days earlier and I was now going septic. As if the yellow-green color I was turning, my stomach being firm and bulging and the fact that I couldn’t keep anything down and was dehydrated didn't give it away. I was immediately taken to Children's Hospital where they undergone surgery the moment I got there.
By the time the doctors were done with me, I had tubes coming out of me from every place imaginable. Feeding tubes, drainage tubes, even a port in my chest so they could draw blood from me. I had numerous visitors both family and famous. Many of the foods I crave today are all thanks to that hospital stay. The love of potato soup, lime Jell-O and sorbet, and a big juicy Big-Mac. (The Big-Mac was because I remember seeing commercials about it and when I could finally try one for myself much much later, it was just as good as they promoted).
So back to my plane ride - I finished the book teary eyed, absolutely relating to the little kid. Except when I was his age, I didn't remember much of the accident. Maybe because it was very traumatic for me and I just chose not to remember. I spent the next couple days contemplating the book I had just read, and on my arrival home - I was met with the devastating news that a friend I played sports with was shot and killed earlier that morning.
I couldn't help but thing about the timeliness of all the events that had just unfolded in the days before. With just recently reading that book, I had a calm but sad feeling that my friend was okay and in better hands. And I can't help but to picture him with no glasses and big wings, because as the book says - "…no one is old in Heaven, and nobody wears glasses….and everyone has wings"
I am happy to say that 25 years later I have no complication from my accident and even thought it was traumatic - I have no issues with getting on a bike and riding. Nothing will keep me down. I will say though, my outlook in life has changed some - I am ever more hopeful and certain now that 'Heaven is for real.'