It was 8:59 the morning of Jan. 19 when my classroom phone rang with a different ringtone than usual. It was a longer tone, a more menacing ring than the short rings signaling a call from the office or a fellow teacher. That type of ring meant an outside call was coming in; somebody needed to get a hold of me pronto. Next to my laptop sat my iPhone pushed to silent. Little did I know that eight minutes earlier an urgent text message had popped up on my phone.
I answered the classroom phone and heard my wife’s voice say a string of words that I will never forget, words that caused my world to shrink and grow fuzzy at the same time: “Your dad had a major stroke, he’s sedated and on a ventilator. I’m on my way to the hospital.”
With my school principal driving, we sped to Saint Agnes Medical Center, an angst-ridden 35 minute drive filled with many, many prayers. Would my father be alive when I got there? Could it be that I will never have a conversation with my dad again? Will we never again talk baseball and the Los Angeles Dodgers or sit in his backyard and talk about life?
After arriving at the hospital and seeing my dad laying in ICU fully sedated with tubes and more tubes coming out of his body, monitors beeping, and nurses and doctors rotating in, I knew then our family’s world had changed in the blink of an eye. My father, Craig, the sweetest and kindest and greatest man I know was in dire shape. My stomach was in knots, my heart was beginning to break.
The next two weeks were filled with many emotional ups and downs; he went from barely being able to open his eyes to some movement on his left side (he can’t move his right side) to nodding in agreement when asked questions to squeezing the heck out of my hand to now opening his eyes for up to five minutes at a time. He is still non-verbal, however baby steps are certainly progress.
I talk to him, sharing about my day and what’s going on with my family. I tenderly caress his right arm, where his IV is inserted. When I leave, I kiss his forehead.
We are a family of faith, and though we may not know why this has happened at the moment – and yes it hurts – we hold on to hope knowing he is in the Lord’s hands. The community of support that has risen up has been a blessing, including many coaches, administrators, parents and concerned students here in Clovis. Your concern has been truly felt.
Before my father is admitted to a rehab center, they asked about his interests in life to help motivate him through rigorous rehab. We told them of his love for baseball, especially the Dodgers, so when he needs to be pushed in one of his exercises, they’ll say: “Craig, you’re Clayton Kershaw and it’s the bottom of the ninth. You need to give this everything you have!”
Obviously we want regular season Kershaw and not former playoff Kershaw.
So, as this next chapter of life is upon my family, I encourage you – whether you are a son, a daughter, a grandchild, a mom, a dad, a grandpa or a grandma – to reach out and let your family know how much they mean to you. A text message is good, a phone call is better, but there is no substitute for a bear hug and an “I love you.”
After all, we live with the certainty that love and hope conquers all.