Survival Mode

June 2nd was glorious. Family from out of state came for a brief yet sweet visit. It was as perfect as June can be with a grill, swing, and family time. On June 3 around 3 am, our sixteen year-old giant comedian Luke had fallen and hit his head when he went down the hallway. Once medics arrived, the seizures became apparent. Within twenty-four hours his brain had swelledso significantly he had to be rushed into surgeryto remove a large portion of his skull to allow for the swelling. Otherwise he would have been declared brain dead and he would have died due to herniation. This began his eight-month journey that included multiple hospitalizations, surgeries, tests,and challenges beyond our wildest nightmares.

June was a blur. Luke was hospitalized twenty-six days the first time. When he improved enough to come home, he told us that he felt like an “old, fat king” due to all the prayers, calls, support, visitors, and love he was shown. Within days, prayers had reached around the globe thanks to social media. He would never be alone again at home or even at the hospital. Luke was eager andable to go to Ohio Senior High Camp, NAYC in Indianapolis, and General Conference in Kansas City. He was so thankful.

Even at his worst and unable to move alone, he was thankful. He endured procedures and tests that would have caused many to become agitated or angry. With his last hospitalization, he was no longer able to breathe on his own without the aid of life support. Thanksgiving Day would be the very last time we heard his voice. We stood at the bedside of our Luke we loved as we faced insurmountable challenges, but prayer became our lifeline as prayer warriors surrounded us. What Hell meant to cripple our faith, God used to increase our faith through the family of God.

There came a steady stream of prayers, calls, and encouragement. In the beginning,the physicians believed we were fighting anautoimmune encephalitis where his body had responded to an initial infection and then began attacking his own body, taking it out on his brain. He would not respond to the treatment courses recommended by specialists from around the country. On January 24 at 7 am, we were called in to speak with several specialists, our neurosurgeon, and epileptologist. The results were in from his most recent surgery—it was gliomatosis cerebri, an aggressive, malignant, untreatable brain cancer.

His whole brain became the tumor. How on Earth does God make all things good? We had experienced God’s Word come to life while making these life and death decisions. When Luke was asked if he would like to see Jesus, he was only able to barely blink his eyes. His response was yes. All those at his bedside spoke words of hope, prayers, and adoration as we stopped.

No more machines. No more escalation. No more rescuing by medicine or intervention. The last song, How Great is Our God, was ending. We sang, prayed, and cried. These were not tears of pure sorrow
but rejoicing that he was no longer tethered to a body that could no longer function or even communicate. We have hope beyond this world that we will see him again, but next time will be around the throne, just beyond the gates of pearl. This is not our home. We are only passing through.

Luke was escorted from this life on Thursday, January 25 at 9:08 pm. On this side of that ordeal, we are thankful for God’s Holy Spirit that gives us strength every day. We learned that God is a good, good Father! We learned the family of God is great. We are learning that griefis variant. Some days are filled with more tears than others, yet every single day is filled withthanksgiving because all our hope is in Him.

One day we will all be rejoicing around His throne.«